Teri Granahan: From Wilkes to comedy

Dominick Costantino, Staff Writer

Teri Granahan graduated from Wilkes University with a degree in communication studies in 1994. She first tried to pursue a career in acting after graduating, but got involved with stand-up comedy because she didn’t fit the Hollywood look. She has been doing stand-up comedy since 2000 and has been having a lot of success with it. Granaham will be opening for fellow Wilkes grad Dave Russo at the Laugh till You Cry act on Dec. 8.

 Why did you pick Communication Studies as your major? 

I originally wanted to go to school for theatre, but  my father would not allow me to do so. I decided to go into communications because it was the closest thing to theatre.

What was your involvement while at Wilkes?

I had Dr. Bradford Kinney for a public speaking class, and he kept trying to get me to join the speech and debate team. I joined temporarily, but then quit. I think I only went on one meet. The speech and debate team was a lot of work, and it felt like it was a whole other class. I did get involved in advertising for the newspaper thanks to my adviser, Dr. Jane Elmes-Crahall.

What advice would you give to current students?

Students should go to class and do their homework. They should take advantage of every practical experience that you can get while at Wilkes. These experiences give you the advantage over people who did not have those opportunities. The extra work now pays off later.

What did you do after graduating from Wilkes?

I moved to New York City. All through my schooling, I was the staunch C student. I was convinced that I was going to be an actress. Being an actress was my destiny. My thought was, “I’m going to be an entertainer, why should I pay attention.” When I got to New York City, I realized that I was too short and not blonde enough to be an actress.

When the dream of acting when down the drain, how did you get into stand-up comedy?

One of my friends told me that I should go do stand-up comedy and bring people with me to the comedy club.I started doing stand-up in 2000 and continued with it because I won competitions and I was actually good at it.

What was one of the first awards you won?

In 2003, I won the Best New Talent award at New York Comedy Club. I think I won this competition because I didn’t know I entered a competition. This was the first thing I ever won. I realized that maybe I am good at something and maybe this was a unique quality I had.

What was the prize for winning the award in 2003?

I was invited to perform in a show because I won the award. When I went to perform for the show, I blanked throughout the entire performance and my jokes didn’t work. I learned an important lesson from this experience: You have to run with cycles. Someday you are the best, and other days someone else is the best. You just have to stick to your chosen goals and your designated path. I learned that I’m not always going to be on top.

How did you and Dave Russo meet?

We were in some classes together while at Wilkes, but only knew each other to say ‘hello’. I was at a comedy event years ago and we reconnected. From that point on, he has given me so many opportunities. I owe a lot of my success to Dave. Whenever he is close to this area, he brings me along to open for him. God bless him for that!

How do men and women respond differently to humor?

I work hard to write material that has universal appeal. I tend to go with jokes that appeal to you whether you are a man or woman. Guys tend to perk up with jokes that are sexual in nature. Women like when I point that fact out.

You are performing with Dave Russo at the Comedy Event at Wilkes on Dec. 8. Did you ever perform at Wilkes before?

I actually have performed at my alma mater before. The performance was in the Dorothy Dickson Darte Center. It was a communications function and I opened for Dave Russo. Every so often I pull out the old VHS from this event. Watching this now gives me a lot of inspiration because it makes me realize that I have what it takes and I even had it way back then. Since Wilkes is my alma mater where I learned all about communications, it makes performing here even more special.

What was your favorite venue that you performed at?

In 2010, I was the feature comic gal in the middle for a Dave Russo performance at Gopham Comedy Club. This comedy club is the one seen on Comedy Central. Before this point, I was only at the emcee point. This was finally a paid gig in New York City.

Where do you get your material from?

I get my material mainly from conversations that I have had where something organically funny came out of my mouth on a particular subject. The art form comes in recreating that funny personal conversation into a joke format that wouldn’t end with the line … “I guess you had to be there.” My life filter is generally a humorous one. There is not much that happens in life that I don’t ultimately “crack wise” on. The more traumatic a personal event is for me the more material can be sifted out of it. It is cathartic, to say the least. I have long been someone who could crack a joke in the middle of a good cry at a funeral just to lighten the situation up. OK, not really at a funeral.

Where can we find more about your comedy or see you perform?
You can check out my website www.terigcomedy.com. I will also be opening for Dave Russo at the comedy event being held at Wilkes on Thursday, Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m. in the ballroom. Dave and I will also be appearing on WBRE’s PA Live! that day at 4 p.m.