When Caroline Rhea performs standup, no show is ever exactly like the one before it. The comedian and television personality, who is appearing at Suffolk Theater in Riverhead on Saturday, May 9, likens her act to hosting a dinner party, where the audience members play a big part in the evening’s success or failure.
“I know what I’m serving, but I don’t know who the guests are,” Rhea says, explaining how she feeds off the energy and engagement of the people who come to see her.
So, given the spirited nature of East Enders, guests at Suffolk Theater should expect the comedy equivalent of Wagyu beef, lobster and truffles—with a couple bottles of good Côtes du Rhône for truth and laughs.
After all, Rhea’s show is inspired by her real life experiences, which seem tailor-made for comedy. Often, one would imagine, the jokes write themselves.
For starters, in 2008, Rhea got pregnant and had a baby daughter at age 44. And, along with being her life’s “numero uno” joy, middle-aged motherhood has been a font of comedic inspiration. Just recently, Rhea recalls the rage and relief after nearly getting hit by a car with her 6-year-old, Ava, who quickly diffused the tension, asking, “Mommy, is Justin Bieber still alive? It was probably him driving that car.”
Before Rhea became a mother herself, her own mother was very supportive of her career and she remains a powerful source of inspiration for her jokes. “My whole career started because my mother is so hilarious,” the comedian says, noting that her early standup was often about her mother’s antics.
That history, her still hysterical and supportive mom and her own journey into motherhood makes Mother’s Day especially significant for Rhea, and to honor that, she’ll be performing some all-new material about her mom at Suffolk Theater.
“I love when people bring their mothers [to shows],” Rhea adds, hoping to see some people celebrating Sunday’s holiday a little early on Saturday night.
In addition to her standup and storytelling, Rhea’s show will include what she calls an “audio-visual” section, complete with slideshow. “I’m determined to do my own one-woman variety show,” Rhea says, revealing that she’s slowly working toward doing a big theater piece, probably off-Broadway.
The new show, pieces of which will surely appear in some form at Suffolk Theater, will likely be called “50 Shades of Rhea” or “Middle Rheage,” because, Rhea says, at “40-10,” (51) she’s starting to embrace her age and become a comedic voice for women of her generation.
Clearly, there is no shortage of people over 40 who will relate to her struggle with technology, social media and a multitude of other digital conundrums.
For now, Rhea is having a blast with her return to standup comedy, which follows years of success on television, acting on shows such as Sabrina the Teenage Witch, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and The Drew Carey Show, hosting her syndicated daytime talk show, The Caroline Rhea Show, voicing cartoons and appearing as host or contestant on a long list of reality and game shows, including NBC’s The Biggest Loser, Hollywood Squares and Bravo’s Celebrity Poker Showdown, to name just a few.
Saturday’s show represents part of Rhea’s latest professional evolution and a chance to see her offbeat-yet-accessible brand of humor live. This is not one to miss.
Caroline Rhea performs at Suffolk Theater, 118 East Main Street,in Riverhead on Saturday, May 9 at 8 p.m. (doors, bar and restaurant open at 6:30 p.m.). Tickets $47 at suffolktheater.com or by calling the Box Office at 631-727-4343 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.