Irene Bremis finds her voice for comedy special ‘Sweetie’

At seven, Irene Bremis discovered her life’s work would be making people laugh.

Now at 57, the Boston native is showcasing her first standup special “Irene Bremis: Sweetie,” produced with “SNL” veteran Rachel Dratch.

“When I was maybe six or seven years old, I was making jokes. The reason was I have a severely autistic brother who was subject to ridicule. For me to get better along with people and not get angry when they were ridiculing my brother was to have a sense of humor. To make friends and use humor as a tool.”

Bremis went to Lexington High – where she and  Dratch were high school classmates – and then University of Superior (“There’s nothing superior about it, literally”) studying communication and arts.

“I wanted to move to New York City straight from college where I pursued writing and acting and fell into standup as a result.

“I was teaching a comedy cooking show, believe it or not, back then. It was called ‘Cooking Joes’ and I was pitching it to William Morris” – the talent agency. “They said to make a pilot and be in it. So that’s when I had to start doing standup.”

What did she find?

“You have to have thick skin. You have to be comfortable with rejection — which is different when you’re an actor.

“As an actor you may not be the type, the character has a different essence. But with standup you are showing your soul. You’re being personally rejected. That’s what makes standup unique.”

She was also starting in New York City, “which is of course,” she said in a phone interview, “the trenches of standup nationally. I remember bombing wildly at one popular comedy club and my friend Joey said to me, ‘You’ll never make it as a comic unless you bomb.’ I understand that now. Bombing happened a lot in the beginning because standup is all about finding your voice. Onstage you can’t grow unless you bomb.

“And if you keep bombing throughout your career,” she learned, “you might want to pivot to acting.”

Her breakthrough?

“I started cohosting weekly with John Fugelsang on Sirius XM, ‘Tell Me Everything,’ his own show. That opened up the world for me. I got my voice out there. It catapulted me to the next level.

“Finding your voice,” she discovered, “is just knowing who you are. It can be really hard for standups because we try to hide behind a certain persona onstage.

“I think my voice is unfiltered, truthful and, about my own family tragedy, through a personal lens. I’m a risk taker but it’s also important to be vulnerable and have sensitivity.”

“Irene Bremis: Sweetie” is available on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Google Play and other streaming platforms


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