BOCA RATON – The way Lisa Corrao tells it, she simply snapped one day.
A middle school teacher at the time, Corrao had always been a fan of stand-up comedy.
“I had that thought, that same moment of, I’ve always wanted to try this,” Corrao said “Why haven’t I tried stand-up? Then I finally did and I was like, Oh man, I love this.”
That moment of clarity occurred nearly two decades ago.
In the years that followed Corrao abandoned her teaching career and developed into one of South Florida’s most accomplished comedians.
Corrao has toured with John Pinette and Louis Anderson, and featured for comedy giants Patton Oswalt, Kevin Nealon and Jim Norton, among others.
Most recently she toured with Gilbert Gottfried, featuring for him in Toronto at what turned out to be the final show prior to his untimely death in April.
“I just remember him getting off stage and the crowd was chanting Gilbert! Gilbert! Gilbert!” Corrao said. “And that was the last show that he did.”
Gottfried asked Corrao to tour with him after he and wife Dara caught one of her performances.
Corrao and Gottfried had performed about a dozen shows together, the start of suddenly cut short year-long tour that planned to take them all across the country.
“I feel so lucky that I got to do that and do his last shows with him,” Corrao said. “There will never be another Gilbert Gottfried. I’m like, ‘Man, how did I get so lucky to get on these shows?” never thinking these were going to be his final shows.”
Even though Corrao knew Gottfried had health issues, his death still came as a surprise to her.
“It’s kind of crazy to be mourning someone you really cared about – I got really close to his family and they’re amazing – to mourn them, and also at the same time your income goes to zero,” Corrao said.
Gottfried’s death prompted Corrao to take a sabbatical from the stage.
“I’m not the kind of comic to jump right back on stage,” Corrao said. “I know a lot of comics are so great and can do that. I like to isolate and stay home and process things.”
Now a couple months removed from the loss of Gottfried, Corrao is emerging from her self-imposed hibernation. Thursday’s performance at the Biergarten in Boca Raton marked her third show in recent days, with a fourth coming Friday night at the Doghouse Theater in Delray Beach.
At the Biergarten Corrao’s bubbly personality and sharp, sometimes self-deprecating, wit entertained with stories about her time as a teacher, dating an astronaut, and all things German.
“I’m trying out a lot of new jokes, which is always fun to do,” Corrao said.
Corrao plans to perform around South Florida for the next couple of months. After that she’s heading to Mexico intent on finishing a screenplay.
“It’s about a lady,” said Corrao, becoming a bit guarded for the only time in a 20 minute conversation. “That’s it. That’s all I’m saying.”
She also plans to perform several times in Mexico.
Turns out, even when she’s supposed to be doing something else, Corrao can’t get comedy out of her mind.
“It’s been an interesting ride, but I’ve still done it and it’s still brought me all the coolest adventures in my life,” Corrao said. “I got to work with Gilbert Gottfried. Do you know how cool that was – to just hang out with him? How interesting a person he was? Aside from my family, all my favorite people I’ve met because of comedy. It’s incredible to me. All my favorite experiences are because I did comedy.”