comedians you should know

She’s Bubbly, She’s Spicy, She’s Danielle Perez

Photo-Illustration: Selman Hoşgör; Photo Courtesy of Subject

This week, we’re highlighting 22 talented writers and performers for Vulture’s annual list “Comedians You Should and Will Know.” Our goal is to introduce a wider audience to the talent that has the comedy community and industry buzzing. (You can read more about our methodology at the link above.) We asked the comedians on the list to answer a series of questions about their work, comedy during the pandemic, and more. Next up is Danielle Perez.

When did you feel that you were funny enough to make a legitimate go at comedy?
When I saw my BFF’s roommate perform stand-up and thought, He’s not funny. I’m funny. Then I texted my BFF, “So, how do we do stand-up?”

Describe your comedy in five words.
Funny, sharp, bubbly, spicy, dark.

What of your work do you think you’re best known for, and what of your work are you most proud of?
In 2015 I won a treadmill on The Price Is Right. The clip went viral because I use a wheelchair and don’t have feet. I made jokes about winning the awkward prize on Twitter, and the next night Jimmy Kimmel had me as a guest on his show. It was a very silly and surreal 48 hours, and I can’t wait to be back on Jimmy Kimmel Live! someday. I’m proud of a lot, but acting with Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiasm, including the season premiere, was a huge bucket-list moment.

If there were a ’90s-style sitcom built around you and your material, in which you had to have a different job than comedian, what would be the title and logline?
After her father is charged with running an elaborate Ponzi scheme and her family’s fortune is seized by the Feds, spoiled socialite Danielle Perez is forced to get a job at a waste-management company where she learns the value of hard work, friendship, and disinfectant. For a girl with no feet, she steps in an awful lot of shit. Rolling Downhill Fast, coming this fall to Fox.

What have you done for comedy during COVID that you thought you would never do?
Before the pandemic I was crawling up and down stairs for stage time, performing on my knees, and lifting my wheelchair onstage. I think the wildest thing I did during COVID is get just a little bit of self-respect.

Who are some of your favorite comedians right now? Who is putting out work that excites and inspires you?
I love watching Naomi Ekperigin, Laurie Kilmartin, Atsuko Okatsuka, and Maggie Maye do stand-up! Every time I see them perform, they’re digging deeper into a premise, making my stomach hurt in laughter, and absolutely charming the audience. I’m also obsessed with Benito Skinner and Jimmy Fowlie! Watching their hilariously unhinged characters on Instagram during the pandemic kept me sane.

What is the best comedy advice, and then the worst comedy advice, you’ve ever received, either when you were starting out or more recently?
Madison Shepard told me this and now I say it to everyone. “What is for you, will be for you.” It reminds me that all I can do is my best, so worry, stress, and anxiety outside of that is not just unhelpful, but futile.

The worst was once in the parking lot after a show, a comedian drove up to me as I was getting in my car and said, “I have a suggestion. Next time you should open with ‘Danielle … stand-up? Really???’” Then he drove away in his Prius.

Tell us one story from your childhood that is a good representation of your life.
When I was 8 I went to an office holiday party with my parents. There was a musician playing an electric keyboard and singing Christmas classics. I asked him if he took requests and knew “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” He did not. Undeterred, I announced that I would sing the song, unaccompanied. I stood on a chair, so everyone could see me, and sang all 12 verses. My parents were mortified. The lesson? Always be pulling focus.

What’s an embarrassingly earnest goal you have?
Sell and star in a show with my bestie, Madison Shepard.

If you had the power to remove anything from the comedy world right now, from trends with material to how the industry operates, what would it be?
I would get rid of sexual abusers.

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She’s Bubbly, She’s Spicy, She’s Danielle Perez