Comedian and actor Leanne Velednitsky is currently appearing Off Broadway in “Puffs,” at New World Stages. Photo: Courtesy of Leanne Velednitsky
By Joshua Nasser
Leanne Velednitsky is a New York-based actor, writer and comedian. She graduated from NYU Tisch’s Experimental Theatre Wing in 2016, and has studied sketch/improv at UCB and the Magnet. She’s worked at Full Frontal with Samantha Bee and the digital comedy company Above Average. She talked about her time in New York, the city’s different comedy “pockets” and what she thinks is next to come.So, to start this off, I’m gonna ask an easy question, do you think funny people are born funny?
Nah, funny people are born purple.Okay, interesting, so do you think you weren’t born funny?
Nah, when I was born, and I was purple.So I’m gonna take that as a yes, people can be born funny. I will say I don’t think you have to be born funny to be funny.
Haha sure I’d agree with that.But after being born funny, I guess my next question would be how long have you been doing comedy?
I’ve been enjoying comedy for a very long time. [Interviewer and subject both laugh.] Do you mean just mean doing comedy in New York?Yeah that works. I was thinking overall, but how long have you been doing comedy before New York?
I’ve been doing comedy for six years now! Although four of those were while I was attending college at NYU in the city, so I guess we’ll say two years in the big bad world!What would you say has been the major difference between the two?
I guess what I mean is, you feel a difference doing comedy within the singular institution of college for a built-in audience of college students and doing it on a larger scale of ... well, for anyone.What do you mean?
Audiences. You’re playing to your bubble or you’re playing for the world. But I don’t think that’s just a comedy thing. That’s the major difference between college and after college — nothing is guaranteed or handed to you. You have to put effort into making your community and seeing things through. Especially as a freelance artist/comedian/person. There are far less deadlines.Sure, that makes sense.
And after all of that I’m doing it all over New York! Although I was taking improv classes outside of school when I was in college, so I was always kind of a part of that world.And where would you say you are now? Or rather how has post-college comedy been?
It’s been good! Right now I’m a cast member in Puffs which is playing Off Broadway!Oh I’ve heard of that show. It’s from the perspective of the Hufflepuffs, all throughout Harry Potter’s time at Hogwarts right?
Yeah!That concept is cool. What else?
I host a monthly variety show in Brooklyn, and I make videos with my production team Bad Apples. I perform improv, characters and I was on a sketch team at The Magnet. I do all this at various venues and shows. I’m having fun.What was the sketch team like? Was that one of your first post college comedy experiences?
It wasn’t my first but it was one that I’m very happy I was on!I’m just curious about what changed you from college comedian to comic in New York?
I got on a team at the Magnet in August of 2017. You audition for teams there and they have a really great policy where women and POC don’t need to have trained at the Magnet to be able to audition. I was happy I was able to audition, then I got onto a team which is called The Nitro Girls. I was on that team for more than a year. The Magnet is such a wonderful community and it was nice to meet so many comedians from so many different worlds of the New York comedy scene. It was nice because I think it’s easy to be accepted in your college improv team, but it felt really nice when I was integrated into the New York comedy scene. There are so many pockets of it.Oh what do you mean by pockets of it?
Just like different crowds you could be with and stuff!I see. I always think those are kind of interesting. You may belong to a specific pocket, but comedy’s just so huge in general. Like you could be a comic in the club scene, or do improv, or alt comedy and still barely touch all of the social circles. I’m rambling. Anyways how do you feel about the pockets and such?
I feel fine personally, I’ve always felt like a floater throughout life, whether it be socially or skill-wise. I like to do different things. My resume says I’m versatile, or at least that’s what i hope it gives off! [laughs] And that has led me to dip my toes into a lot of different comedic waters.From being in these different pockets, in what ways have you seen comedy change and what do you think you’re looking forward to the most with comedy in New York or with comedy in general?
I like the idea of more acceptance being pushed. People are caring for others in a very good way and it’s just nice to see. Recently you’ve been seeing more mics being run by women, LGBTQ, and people of color and that has been a huge shift from what the scene was like when I was in college. I was mainly doing improv and sketch back then, but I was on a stand up team at NYU, which was pretty much the only place I did stand up. NYU was nice but when I would venture out into the city you would see some mics that were run with a negative energy. Now that I’m out it’s been nice to see the changes that have happened in the meantime. There’s still a long way to go but it’s nice to know these spaces exist.That’s great that such a positive shift has happened throughout your career. Well thanks so much Leanne this was really nice.
Thanks for having me, this was fun!
Check out more of Leanne’s work at her website www.leannevelednitsky.com