Influencer: Comedian Doreen Collins

The Rhode Island Comedy Hall of Famer talks being a funny gal in a guy-dominated business

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You perform on stage, TV, and radio – do you have a favorite way to entertain?

I love to entertain anytime, anywhere, but, I have to say, live is probably my favorite. That being said, I did love doing the TV show, Rhode Bytes, which aired on WJAR NBC 10 after SNL from 2009-2012, and still miss doing it. When you do TV, you get to do it until you get it right and you can control the finished product. You also have a broader reach, more people watching. Rhode Bytes used to average 60,000 households an episode. But you can’t hear the laughter. On the other hand, you don’t hear the non-laughter either. When you perform live, you get to feel the energy, hear the laughter, bask in the applause.

In 2015, you were inducted into the RI Comedy Hall of Fame and are still the only woman in that esteemed group. How does that feel?

It was a huge honor. I was being recognized for doing what I’ve loved doing for over 50 years. Yes, I’m old. A fellow comic once referred to me as the Ruth Bader Ginsburg of RI comedy. But I was also honored to be the first female to make the cut. I was warned that, “if I wanted to hang with big boys, I’d better be able to take a hit” – and hit they did during the roast. A roast is always rough, but when your roasters are two of RI’s most quick-witted sharp-tongued comedians, a sitting Congressman, a news anchor, an uncensored drag queen, your bitchy gay bestie, and your big brother, it’s a whole other level of heat. One of the best nights of my career.

Where is your favorite place to perform?

I love to perform in almost every venue I book. My favorites are the ones that are sold out! And the bigger, the better. It’s so much easier to perform in front of 2,000 people than it is to perform in front of two.

Is Rhode Island’s comedy scene different from others you’ve experienced, and if so why?

Laughter is laughter no matter where you are, but one of the things that made me fall in love with the state was the way Rhode Islanders enjoy laughing at themselves. I have gotten spoiled performing here. After all, this is the I-know-a-guy state, so once you’re “the guy,” people know, it’s easier to get booked. That’s everywhere, though. Look at Adam Sandler movies, or Martin Scorsese, or Spike Lee – they always use their buddies and it helps when your buddies have talent. I need to know better guys…

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