Hooray for Carlawood!
By Chris Eggertsen
In the classic comedy "Working Girl," Melanie Griffith, dressed to the nines and aiming her big doe eyes at Harrison Ford, uttered this iconic line: "I have a head for business and a bod for sin. Is there anything wrong with that?"
This quote couldn't help but enter my mind whilst interviewing Carla Collins, Canada 's "Queen of Comedy" and a recent transplant to Los Angeles, as I was trying to reconcile those leading-lady good looks with her incisive wit. Soon, I found myself wondering how she might describe herself.
"Maybe like Don Rickles and Pamela Anderson had a love child?" she offered.
It's a perfectly apt characterization of Collins' brand of cutting humor mixed with long-limbed sex appeal, a combination that can be seen in her highly-rated television documentary series, Carlawood, airing on the Canadian network TVTropolis. The hit show, in its second season, deals with her recent move to Los Angeles and quest for recognition stateside.
"It's really lighthearted, and it's very, very honest", said Collins of the show. "And sometimes it's a matter of getting lucky. You just capture some great moments with some crazy characters. It's a bit of a fish-out-of-water show, and you know, there's enough crazy in L.A. that you never tire of all the colorful characters."
Collins described the experience of relocating to L.A. with a refreshing blend of practicality and good-natured humor.
"I grew up in Sault St. Marie, and Sault St. Marie is a steel town...and I always say I don't think L.A. 's that much different because it's a one-industry town", said Collins. "Everybody is looking for the same thing here, and they don't seem to give a rat's ass if you were big in Canada. I might as well say 'I'm huge in Lichtenstein'. You're playing with the bigger tennis players and with a bigger field, right? So you kind of have to prove yourself all over again. I do like that challenge."
So what can we expect from Collins going forward? For one, a feature film called The Hack, put together as a vehicle for her.
"It's about a trophy wife whose husband leaves her and gets in all kinds of trouble with the law, and she loses her whole life", said Collins. "So she decides to go into standup but she kinda sucks at it, so she starts killing other people for their material."
We might also be seeing her on the small screen soon - either in a Jerry Zucker-produced sketch comedy show (a part she quickly landed after receiving her green card last year), or in a sitcom being pitched in the New Year.
"[It's] called Greenie, [about someone who] tries to come in and green up a big corporation", she said. "I was going to be [lead character] Greenie, but then I got this call saying, you know what you'd be better at? Being [the villain] 'Beryl', who wears fur coats and chain-smokes. She does sound like fun! I won't be wearing real fur coats though, for the record."
Which brings us to Collins' other big passion: animal rescue. She's adopted three rescue dogs ("I'm becoming just like Angelina Jolie", she jokes); two of them alongside husband Tyrone Power, Jr., with whom she lives in Malibu. She is currently active with Bark Avenue Foundation, (www.BarkAvenueFoundation.org) a non-profit committed to ending pet overpopulation. In fact, she recently hosted a fundraiser for the organization at the Hollywood Improv.
"All the shelters really need funding, they need people to step up and save a life", she said. "Because they're all really overbooked. And I just wanted to do my little part."
All in a day's work for Collins, who along with everything else - her documentary series (which may be coming to the States in 2010), film and TV projects, stand-up shows (she's a regular at spots like The Laugh Factory and The Comedy Store), and philanthropy - is now also a published author, with her comedic motivational tome, hilariously titled Angels, Vampires and Douche Bags, headed for a May 2010 release.
"I just sort of separate the world into those three categories", said Collins. "And how to handle all of them - how to attract more angels, and control your vampires that are sexy and trendy but that ultimately suck the life out of you, and how to keep the douche bags at bay."
Along with being funny, attractive, and big-hearted, Collins has one other weapon in her Hollywood arsenal: she's a genuinely likable, authentic gal.
"I always think that the funniest things come from an honest place", she said. "You know what, you can try to stage something funny but usually the real stuff is way wackier than anything anybody can come up with."
I completely agree, and I'd like to follow Carla's example by offering up my own honest observation: this working girl seems headed for big things.
Visit Carla' website: www.CarlaCollins.com
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