BEACON-NEWS - May 24, 1991
By Steve Lord BEACON-NEWS STAFF
This interview hosted at Boundary Waters Media
The next stage of evolution for women and comedy just might come together on stage in the form of Rhonda Shear. It became cool in the late 1980s for women to be stand-up comedians; now Shear proves in the 1990s, it's cool to be hot. The former Miss Louisiana, national pin-up star and Playboy model is breaking another stereotype that says plain, catty and dizzy are the only things that play for women in comedy.
"I was told, `You can't do comedy; you're too beautiful,' " Shear said in a phone interview from Los Angeles. "I'm aware that when I'm on stage, people are checking me out, my looks. But after a while, they listen to me.
"Women are my biggest fans. Some might think that I would be intimidating to women, but I'm not. In Seattle, right after Playboy (in which she is featured) came out, women asked me to autograph my picture because they said their boyfriends or husbands were too scared to ask me. I've had women tell me, `What you talked about, it sounds like you've had a microphone in my house for the last two months.' "
Women and men in the Fox Valley will get their chance to check out Rhonda Shear this weekend, as she headlines Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights at the Laugh Factory, on the ring road around Fox Valley Center, in Aurora. Shear will add her Laugh Factory appearance to a growing list of credits that includes: the somewhat forgettable movie, Basic Training; appearances on television in shows such as Happy Days, Cheers and Married, With Children; the USA Cable Network's version of Up All Night, a late-night, weekend collection of schlock movies which Shear hosts on the west coast; and a host of club and cable appearances.
Shear is not the first female stand-up comedian who is pretty. But Shear is not merely pretty, she is beautiful. And while Shear knows it -- at least enough to take those "dumb blonde bimbo" -type of roles when offered -- she admits she is insecure enough not to dwell on discussion of her looks.
"I know how to stand," she said, chuckling, when asked about her body. "I know how to look thin. I spoof it -- the beauty pageants, the modeling. I'm never confident. I'm a jealous person, even with my boyfriend. "People ask me, `What do you have to be jealous about?' But I am. Of all my friends, the ones who are pretty, or glamorous, seem to be the most insecure." Which is why Shear will joke about things like: Playboy's touching up of photos -- "She's 60, that's 20 in bunny years"; her modeling in Playboy -- "My mother asked me where my clothes were, and I said on the next page"; her beauty pageant background -- "I held the title of Miss Food Festival once, which is one you really want to be skinny for"; and her hairdresser, who was adding a little blond to her already golden locks -- "I'm a natural blonde...you can check Playboy if you don't believe me."
What Shear likes to talk about most on stage is relationships. It is that topic that makes her a hit with her own gender. "But I don't plaster guys," she said. "I don't put guys down." Shear's future looks as bright as her smile. She has a four-year contract with USA cable, which she said she likes because cable lets her do "anything you want." She is working with the Playboy Channel to produce a show on women in comedy, her first shot at production. And she continues to gain a reputation for what she said will remain her base -- stand-up comedy.
"One of my idols is Joan Rivers, and her theory is that you keep working, no matter what it is," Shear said. "I like hosting, but I'd like to keep stand-up as my base. I've always looked at things with a comedic eye."