Before actress and comedian Caroline Rhea was born her parents called Charlotte home. Her father did his residency at one of the local hospitals, and her mother was the librarian at Queens University during the 50s (the girls school in the really nice neighborhood? she remembers).
Rhea has always had a soft spot for the city, and shell stop by Comedy Zone Tuesday to lend her funny to a good cause. Proceeds from her show benefit The Martin Truex Jr. Foundation childrens charity as well as WSOCs School Tools campaign and Second Harvest Food Banks backpack program.
Mom to 5-year-old Ava, Rhea spoke to the Observer last week about her love for Robin Williams, aging in comedy, and her daughters contributions to her standup.
Q. You knew Robin Williams?
A. I knew him and genuinely loved him. He couldnt have meant more to me. One of the highlights of my life and something that changed my career was when I did Comic Relief and interviewed Whoopi (Goldberg), Robin and Billy (Crystal). Whoopi is my very dear friend (now).
He always went out of his way. I saw him once and I remember he was on the phone with someone that was terminally ill and he would go and visit people. He had this extraordinary gift to make people laugh and he felt the world so deeply. ...
Q. Youre here to raise funds for childrens charities just in time for school.
A. Thats actually one of the coolest things about having fame. Getting a table at a nice restaurant is a complete perk, but being able to do something constructive with it. When I was on Sabrina (the Teenage Witch) I use to go to a lot of childrens hospitals. They were happy to see you because they loved that show. We witches were a bunch of softies. Aunt Zelda (Beth Broderick) is the biggest softie of all.
Q. Has becoming a mom given you new material for your act?
A. Its the most amazing thing Ive gotten to do. Shes hilarious. It used to be I had to wait for my mother to say really funny things and now I just wait for Ava to say really funny things.
I pick her up from kindergarten and she says, Mommy Ive been farting all day Shes hilarious.
Q. You plan to work some Sabrina and Phineas and Ferb auctions into this fundraiser. Is there anything you wouldnt part with?
A. I gave away my original (Sabrina) jacket with my name on it to a little girl that was sick when I was on the show. And she totally recovered. I dont think Id hold on to anything if I thought it was going to raise a ton of money for charity. Its not like Ive got the stuffed Salem sitting in my closet. The first season he looked like an alcoholic rabbit wearing a hairpiece. I mean did (they) look at a picture of a cat when (they) were making it?
Q. You kept a lot from the show?
A. I have so many outfits that I wore on the show. I have my wedding dress and some beautiful pictures of all the actors. Its weird because I hear all the time literally, I grew up watching you. Its flattering, but it makes you feel like youre 100.
Q. Since youre still 49, do you think aging in Hollywood is any easier for comedic actresses?
A. I think all things experience ageism, but I also think you can accept that as a truth or not. If theres something I feel confident about its my standup. Society telling you that someone younger is better than you? Joan Rivers is 81 and could not be funnier. Don Rickles is a genius. Hes 88 years old. I dont think you can buy into it.
Courtney's blog: cltsoundbites.blogspot.com
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