By Haley Frederick
Pittsburgh Current Managing Editor
I was hoping for nice weather, so that when New York-based comedian Carly Ann Filbin joined me at One Thirty One East for lunch, we could dine on the patio and look out upon Carnegie’s charming Main Street. But, of course, it’s one of the rainiest days of the year. We ditch our umbrellas by the door and take a seat at the table.
Filbin is in town to bring her show “Let Me Break You Up” to Pittsburgh at Club Cafe. It’s kind of the anti-”Newlywed Game Show” comedy show, where Filbin challenges real couples to see how well they know each other. And at the end of the night, the couple with the least points must breakup.
When Filbin mentions her mom will be at the show, I assume that means her family must be from the area. But, no. Her mom just comes to all of her shows.
“My mom is a really good sport,” she says. “Both of my parents have been really accepting of a lot—like, A. my personality, and B. the fact that this is what I want to do.”
I ask if she tells the audience that her mom is in attendance.
“Yeah, I have to. Just the juxtaposition that she’s in the audience and I’m like talking about sex, I just have to make her a part of it, it’s so funny.”
Carly Ann Filbin brings her comedy storytelling show “This Doesn’t Mean I’m Your Boyfriend” to Carnegie Stage June 13 through 16 at 8 p.m., 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets $20. carnegiestage.com
Before she moved to New York to attend Marymount Manhattan and study directing for the stage, Filbin grew up in a midwestern town that Pittsburgh loves to hate.
“I don’t know how loud I can say this, and I’m just going to apologize first before I say that I am from Cleveland.”
She leans in and whispers the C-word, so as not to offend any of the other diners.
We study our menus to decide what to order. I land on the korean beef bao buns, and Filbin wants the butternut squash soup and a flatbread with caramelized onions, apple, pear, arugula, asiago and bleu cheese. She’s been a vegetarian for almost ten years, and One Thirty One East has a fairly good selection of veg-friendly food.
“And if you wanted to split the deviled eggs, I wouldn’t say no,” Filbin says.
We start with an order of the sriracha devilled eggs. They’re a tasty snack, adding the sweet heat of the pepper sauce to the egg yolk mixture.
Our main courses follow and they’re tasty, too. One Thirty One East calls itself “a world fusion freestyle restaurant,” and their take on bao isn’t exactly authentic, but it is good.
We start discussing the New York comedy scene and I admit that I’ve based my idea of it entirely off of Pete Holmes’ HBO show “Crashing,” which was recently cancelled after three seasons. (RIP “Crashing,” gone too soon.)
But Filbin says her experience hasn’t been the norm. She didn’t start with open mics in grimey clubs or bark on street corners. Instead, she stumbled upon the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB).
“I was so broke, so I googled ‘free things to do’ and the big show at UCB is a show called ‘Asssscat,’ and back in the day it was SNL people that did the show for free on Sunday,” Filbin recalls. “And so I went because it was free and I was like ‘oh, this is what I want to do.’”
The next day she had two windows open on her computer, one was the UCB improv class and the other was her bank account. As the purchase clock ticked down towards zero at the top of her screen, she bit the bullet and spent almost all of the money she had on her first improv class.
Eventually, she made it onto a house team and performed improv for a few years. But she knew she needed to go out on her own.
“I have to do my own thing, I went to school for directing and I feel like I always have a vision of what I want to do and how I want to do it,” Filban says.
She wanted to take on a more presentational role, to talk to the audience and make sure they’re having a good time. So now, that’s what she does in three different shows.
The first one, “Let Me Break You Up,” her anti-dating game show, has been running for three years at UCB. Filbin channeled all of her dating-life angst into it at first.
“I didn’t date for seven years and I was bitter as fuck. I was so mad—anyone that was happy in love I was so resistant to. I was like ‘oh, well this is probably something,’” she says.
But Filbin isn’t bitter anymore, in fact, she’s quite fun to be around. I can see how her energy and openness makes for a good host.
“[The show] makes everyone happy—it makes people in relationships happy that they’re not the only ones with problems or secrets, it makes single people happy because they’re like ‘great, the joke isn’t on me,’” she says. “It’s a comedy show but people get really vulnerable, and once you share that vulnerability, it just feels better.”
Filbins also hosts a matchmaking show called “Young, Hot Sluts,” and her comedy storytelling show, “This Doesn’t Mean I’m Your Boyfriend,” is coming to Carnegie this June.