Loni Love wasn’t supposed to be a comedian. Her pursuit of an engineering degree from Prairie View A&M University was proof of that. But while in college, hard up for money for books, she participated in a local bar’s competition in which the person who could tell the best story would win $50. She took home a crisp Ulysses S. Grant, along with the comedy bug.
That first time on stage led to a consistent side hustle in stand-up as she completed her college degree. Upon graduating, she got a job in El Segundo “because Fred Sanford was from El Segundo,” she said.
“Yes, that’s how I picked my life choices,” she laughed.
She worked at Xerox as an engineer for eight years, unhappy along the way. After a fateful night at the Comedy Store, however, when the lineup consisted of just one woman, Love got back into the comedy habit.
“I was doing comedy at night and working at Xerox during the day because I still wanted to eat,” she said.
Her first big break came after an HBO open call for the Aspen Comedy Festival:
“I snuck out of work and went down there. I was No. 253 and had 90 seconds to try and get a spot. There was only one spot for 600 people. I talked about how when I went to Korea they thought I was Aretha Franklin. I got the spot, went to Aspen, got best stand-up and got a deal.”
But Love was still working at Xerox. Then, when the company had layoffs, “I went to my boss and said, ‘Please save a job and lay me off.’”
“That’s how I became a full-time comic.”
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