Candice Guardino is a woman with many hats. Although we can’t find a picture of her wearing an actual hat, she’s still an actress, writer, singer, and comedian. A student of UCB and Second City, she’s also been trained in the areas of long and short-form improv. We recently spoke with Candice about her off-Broadway play Italian Bred which, just opened in LA but soon to return to its roots in New York, how drama comes easy for comedians and much more!
Hey, how’s it going? Thanks for taking the time.
Hi Blake, of course.
I was looking through your bio and I was kind of fascinated by the fact that you have been a part of UCB, The Pit, Second City, and more to name a few. Is that normal to be a part of that? I usually hear that people are just in one group, but you seem to be all over the place.
No, I’ve kind of done it all. For me personally, it kind of was cool to learn all the different styles, you know ‘cause each is just a thick group. UCB groups are really different from something like The Pit, it’s just a different brand of comedy. Someone like me, I enjoy doing all of it, so I was like “let me not get stuck in one way.” I really like it: long form, short form, making up characters, writing sessions.
Is there anything you prefer? Or you like all the stuff?
There’s not really one I prefer, but I love to actually sit in a character verses “let’s just improv 12 people on stage.” I would love more SNL-type sketches where they can be a character for 2-3 minutes and really live in that person. You find a lot of fun things, and I usually derive from people that I know. It’s like a version of my best friend, or a version of an ex-boyfriend. That was always really fun.
Speaking on that too, you write, you do stage shows, you act. Is there anything you like doing more in that realm?
Yeah, I’m a big fan, I love sitcom stuff, I love TV. Scripts and sitcoms as an actor, I love doing that stuff because there is so much in there that you can find. As I started to write my one-person show, I enjoy writing, I think it’s a lot of fun, but I wouldn’t say I’m going to be on a writing team depending on who it is. I also love to create, so I’m a creator. I come up with concepts and filter in lines, it’s a lot but I love it.
So you’re saying that you couldn’t just write something and you would have to act in it, or you could to step back?
I think I could step back if it’s the right project, it depends on the project. There are certain things that I’m way more passionate about and I’m like “I have to perform this,” and then there are other things that I’m like “I could totally just write the scenes, or I totally could just write the sketch, I don’t need to be in this.” I’m kind of a good team player like that, I love collaborating. I think if I’m more passionate about something, I’ll speak up and say “This is where I’m best at.”
I also have to ask about Italian Bred, how did that come to be?
Of course! I created Italian Bred, it’s a one-person show where I impersonate all of my family members, but more importantly I take you through an entire journey of how I grew up in a crazy household. What I love about it is that it is so relatable. Every time I’ve work shopped it, or performed it, or tried to present it to audience members it’s always “Oh my grandmother is just like that,” “Oh my father did that to me too,” and all those funny things. It’s kind of cool that this one show can invoke so many memories of so many different types of people; I mean you do not have to be Italian to enjoy it, and that’s what I want it to do, create something universal and relatable.
Its bi-coastal now too, it’s in Los Angeles, right?
It’s so exciting, yeah. It opened at the end of May in Los Angeles. We had some real interest in it and it’s at the time where it is probably going to be work shopped and used to some sort of developmental of TV shows. There’s a screenplay as well that I wrote that is based on these characters that has been getting a great amount of attention. I think it’s such a wonderful liftoff for the show, plus it’s been picked up for New York. After LA it then comes back to New York for its traditional big off Broadway opening in the winter.
I’m in New York, so I’m definitely going to have to go see it.
Yeah, we’d love to have you.
Have you seen a difference in fan reaction from LA to New York? Or has it been kind of similar?
You know what’s funny? There are a lot of people in LA who are East-coasters. So many people have been like “Oh my god I love them on the east coast,” or “I lived in LA my whole life but I totally relate to this,” I’m like “that’s so great!” LA is kind of like Staten Island, where I grew up, with palm trees. It’s the same thing, there’s traffic, there’s tons of cars, they are the same kind of people, and it’s actually kind of humorous that I’ve found that they are so similar.
Is there anything you had to change about the show moving it to LA, or is it the same thing?
The only thing I slightly changed was that there not a live band in LA In New York there is a live orchestra that plays the music incorporated in the show. I didn’t do that for LA because I was like “You know, the space isn’t the ideal situation for it,” and we decided to track all the music. You still get the benefit of hearing it, it still sounds live, but you just don’t see an orchestra. That’s the only thing, but it actually worked to our advantage because the Hudson Theatre has great sound so it kind of sounds like they’re right there.
Do you know where you are going to have the show yet for winter?
Yeah, it’ll be on Theatre Row, so it’s on 42nd street, it’s called The Clurman. There’s like five off-Broadway theaters on Theatre Row.
You were also recently honored, what was it like being honored for the Italian-American Woman Award?
The Italian American Women’s Association reached out to me and was like “We’ve been following your career since you graduated,” and they were like “and we’d love to have you, now that your show is really developing and things are happening, could you come and speak about women?” What I loved about it is that the show, yes there are men and women that I impersonate, but at the end of the day I love that there is one character that is so female centered. She is a strong grandma that isn’t this typical female, she’s crazy, and I loved that she is what brought me and grounded me as an adult. Now I’m just so excited to get that back a little bit, because nowadays it’s crazy how kids grow up. For me, I didn’t grow up with a cell phone. I got it later in my teens and twenties, and it’s just so different now. Everyone’s so crazy with being self-centered and it’s so nice to take it back and she did that for me with, this character. So being able to speak about how women are really strong, and they sometimes are the person pushing the guy forward like “go do it,” and they are really strong. I loved that I was able to give that back to them.
Another thing that I was fascinated about was that you do a lot of drama type roles in television, is there anything you prefer, comedy over drama?
It’s funny, I used to say “I only want to just do drama,” and then I started to realize as I was doing comedy and learning so much and people saying to me “You’re so naturally funny,” and I used to say “I’m not funny!” When you’re funny, or if you have that little bit of comedy in you, drama actually is easier because I think it’s harder to make people. I used to say, “If I’ve made you laugh, I scored, we did well.”
Do you do stand-up as well?
Yeah, what I do, and I say this loosely, is I respect stand-up comedians that do it every night, and I don’t do it every night, but I will get out some workshop material, and I get that a lot, I’m still currently doing that. I will just get up to an open mic and just try out some scene work, because I play all the characters it’s just me, so I’ll try it out. I also love storytelling slams, storytelling is probably my biggest passion. Like the Billy Crystal one-man shows where he literally just tells his story and makes you laugh for an hour and a half, makes you cry, makes you go through a journey. So I love storytelling slams of any kind.
What’s that experience like compared to other types of stage performance? Say storytelling compared to improv.
We all know improv is more or less staying within your group, it may be having a little rant, having a little fun, going off a bit. It’s not really going to take me too far on a journey, but it keeps me on my toes and I love that. I love in any way, in front of a camera or even on stage; you’ve got to be ready for anything. That’s what I love about improv, it always keeps me on my toes. What I love about storytelling is that I like to look out sometimes into the audience and you can feel or even see people going on this journey with you. Ten minutes ago they were laughing and now they’re tearing up in their eyes or they’re looking at you and almost seeing themselves, they no longer see me. There’s something really fun going on a huge journey.
What do you have next, besides the off-Broadway show, for the fans?
Exciting things I would say. I’ve been doing a lot of writing, and I’ve been auditioning. Now that I’m in LA., I’ve been getting called in for some exciting things so I think the next step is let the world see what I do in L.A. because I’m new here. I’ve never been there before; this is my first time out. I think once that happens, they can come and see what I do, and what I bring to the industry. That’s what I’m really excited about, to kind of emerge onto the scene.
And you have, can you tell fans about you have a website and Twitter and all that?
Yeah, I have a website and my show does as well. My website is www.candaceguardino.com and I’m just constantly updating, and putting on videos and sketches and stuff like that.
Thanks so much for doing this; I appreciate you taking the time.
Anytime, when the show’s in New York we hope to have you out!