Jo Firestone is a comedic mad scientist. The New York City-based performer, producer, and host is constantly creating new shows and spectacles. These range from esoteric one-offs like the Tiny Comedy Club — where aspiring comics can enter a tiny closet and perform a standup set to an audience of 30 baby dolls wired to laugh — to the wildly popular monthly wordplay competition, Punderdome 3000. Punderdome is a pun battle, during which contestants are given 90 seconds to come up with as many puns as they can on a given theme. (For “poisonous things” a contestant declared “I’m a little out of my element, but I’m doing asbestos I can.”) Her rapidly growing fan base includes the likes of Michael Showalter (Stella, Wet Hot American Summer) and Danny Tamberelli (from Nickelodeon’s Pete and Pete), both of whom have served as judges at Punderdomes past. Though her shows have been featured in The New York Times, the New Yorker, and many other media outlets, she’s stayed largely out of sight of the entertainment industry and produces her shows independently. Wag’s Revue contributor Chris Duffy sat down with Firestone at her home in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.
Chris Duffy, WR: Your last name is Firestone but you’re not connected to the tire company?
Jo: No, not at all.
CD: Or the guy from The Bachelor?
JF: We’re not related to him, either. What happened is, our name isn’t really Firestone. My great grandma got a divorce from this guy who was named like “Fierce Steen,” or something like that... She was like, “I’m changing that,” and she made it sound nicer.