Interview with Robin Gelfenbien: Comedienne and Storyteller

Last month, I had the pleasure of performing in Adam Wade’s Whatever Happened To The Nerds storytelling show alongside the very talented and hilarious Robin Gelfenbien. She hosts and performs in a bunch of shows every month, has friends who are tax attorneys, and has been spotted on numerous occasions in a hot dog truck. Here’s more:

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Jen Bokoff: You’re a comedienne/writer/storyteller, but that means you’ve almost certainly had some weird jobs in between. What’s the craziest?

Robin Gelfenbien: I’ve done a lot of copywriting work, so I’ve been fortunate enough to be put on some unusual accounts including writing about ear and nose hair trimmers and toe fungus. I couldn’t bear to look at the photos. I’m exceedingly squeamish.

JB: Yum’s The Word is the most fun concept for a storytelling show ever. How did you develop the idea and make it happen?

RG: Awww. Thanks, Jen! I spent a lot of time thinking about starting my own storytelling show because I wanted to do something unique and memorable. Growing up, my family pretty much ate ice cream nightly, and our homemade ice cream cakes were a staple on our birthdays. I had been making ice cream cakes for years and one night at a party, I saw strangers’ reactions to my cakes. They were going nuts for them, and I realized I could blend my two passions; Yum’s the Word, at least in concept, was born. The next big challenge was finding a venue that had a freezer. That was the top criterion, and let me tell you, a surprisingly tall order.

JB: Who are your storytelling heroes, and what story would you tell if you were sharing the stage with them?

RG: Excellent question! Mike Birbiglia is, hands down, my storytelling hero, and one of my dreams is to have him on Yum’s the Word. Since he loves junk food, it seems like a perfect fit. I would be torn between telling the story of when I thwarted my high school musical from backstage [JB note: Could. Not. Stop. Laughing.] and the story of getting pulled over in the Wienermobile and searched for drugs. I also love Ophira Eisenberg and Adam Wade for their ability to be funny and vulnerable. I’ve actually shared the stage with both of them and told those exact stories.

JB: Having commanded a Wienermobile, I can’t help but wonder if you still eat hot dogs. Yes? No? 

RG: Yes, we surprisingly rarely ate hot dogs on board, so I never got sick of them. I love hot dogs, and I’m still brand loyal to Uncle Oscar. After all, that job saved my life.

JB: What current project(s) are you working on? Anything we should be looking out for?

RG: Absolutely! This Friday, November 9th Yum’s the Word will be doing a benefit show for Hurricane Sandy victims at Webster Hall with musical acts Lachi, iPhonic and iLLspokinn. I’ll be hosting the whole night, and Yum’s the Word will be kicking off the event at 7:00 p.m. with hilarious stories from 30 Rock’s Sue Galloway, Adam Linn, Scott Whitehair and yours truly. We’ll also have a raffle, live auction and silent auction items including a signed 30 Rock script, a signed copy of Tina Fey’s “Bossypants,” a Moth prize pack and more. A portion of the proceeds will go to GOLES.org, which is a NYC-based charity doing tremendous work down on the Lower East Side to help those affected by the storm. It’s going to be such a fun event for a wonderful cause! I’m also going to be doing a seasonal storytelling show this winter. More details to follow at www.robingelfenbien.com, but for now, mum’s the word. 

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I really encourage everyone in the NYC area to go to the benefit Friday; not only will it be a great show, but I really respect its charitable nature. I’ll make it easy for you; you can reserve your tickets here! Oh, and be sure to get there early for a piece of Robin’s homemade ice cream cake and a balloon anima! Doors open at 6:00 p.m. You can also find Robin on Twitter and at shows around the city.

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