I’ve been a fan of Laurie Forster’s half hour radio show The Sipping Point for the past two years. I knew she had a budding standup comedy career in addition to her wine consulting and have long hoped that she would bring her performance to Chicago. This Friday, April 4, she appears at City Winery for 7:00 p.m. (already sold out) and 9:30 performances. Tickets for the second show are (for now) available here.
Let’s meet Laurie and learn about how she finds the humor in wine, a topic that often brings out the Serious in many of us:
You have a unique niche – combining wine knowledge with comedy. Which do you think is more accurate: Are you a comedienne with wine as her theme or a sommelier who happens to be really funny?
I’d say a little of both…I am a certified Sommelier with training from the American Sommelier Association, Wine & Spirits Education Trust and more. Growing up I was always the one to crack a joke to diffuse a stressful situation so it’s part of my authentic self. Growing up in New Jersey you had to a have a quick comeback and sarcastic humor is just part of our DNA there.
When I switched careers from software to wine I found lots of things in the wine world seemed funny to me and foreign so I always found a way to laugh at that as well as any faux pas I made! Like tasting notes from the wine critics always seemed more like reading a Harlequin Romance novel or some of them Fifty Shades of Grey!
Have you been developing your wine knowledge and comedy chops at the same time or did one come before the other?
Formally I started studying wine in 2002 and started The Wine Coach in 2004. I’ve always incorporated humor into my classes because it’s who I am but my formal comedy training was at the DC Improv in 2010. The best material we are taught is found in your real life which for me includes the wine business, being married to a chef and a mom to a ten year old daughter.
Tell us a little about the wine show you host every Saturday morning.
I host The Sipping Point radio on WBAL 1090AM which is broadcast in the DC/Maryland area live Saturdays at 12:00 noon eastern time and can also be heard in my free mobile app. The Wine Coach as well is podcast on iTunes. Each week we explore the recipe for a delicious life with features on wine, spirits, beer, chefs and more. Past guests include Robert Parker Jr, Jancis Robinson, Andrea Robinson, Robert Irvine and more.
Do you mention many winemakers, sommeliers as part of your routine, or do you try to avoid being that specific in the subject matter of your bits?
I love poking fun at the wine establishment especially critics and media as we can sometimes make wine too complicated for people. Winemakers are the heroes in my book and way more down to earth than somms!
Talk a little about your first exposure to wine, for example, did you family often serve wine and were they major collectors? Did you grow up around a lot of winemakers and somms?
Ha ha, I grew up in New Jersey where wine was usually pink or in a box! Honestly I saw wine at my house when we had parties but not at the dinner table…my first wine was at the drive-in and it was Boones Farm Strawberry Hill. No, I don’t remember the movie!
Have you ever tried making wine yourself; would you be interested in trying?
I have the greatest respect for the craft of winemaking but honestly I know how much work it takes so no, I prefer tasting wine!
There’s something about online/mobile content that makes wine a friendly subject, but it hasn’t really developed strongly in “mainstream media”, do you agree? Do you see this changing?
My whole goal is to change the way wine is viewed by the public and the media…it can be FUN with a capital F. Unfortunately most people approach it in a way that is anything but entertaining–I promise to change that with my perfect pairing for wine–COMEDY!