Out comedian, writer and motivational speaker Julia Scotti is releasing her first live comedy CD this month.
Recorded in Seattle and titled “Hello Boys … I’m Back,” the album is a sly reference to Scotti’s return to standup comedy after her transition, as well as the struggles the trans community has faced in recent years.
“I’ve been so fired up about the bathroom issues all over the country, not just North Carolina, and it seemed like a good way to make a statement to poke them in the side and let them know that I’m here,” she said. “And it has a double meaning because I’m back after being away for so many years. I actually was really happy with this one. I’m getting excited now that it’s becoming a reality.”
Originally from Fairview, N.J., Scotti spent the first 48 years of her life known as comedian Rick Scotti, touring and performing in venues all over the United States and Canada, as well as opening for artists like Lou Rawls, Chicago and Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.
In 2000, she left comedy to begin her transition and her new career as a teacher, where she remained for seven years. But everybody knows you can’t keep a good woman or a good comedian down. So after a 10-year hiatus, Scotti couldn’t ignore her calling for delivering outrageous humor and returned to the stage as ferocious and fearless as ever. She also channeled her talents for public speaking and teaching into lecturing on the subject of bullying and transgender youth.
Scotti went on to be named one of the Top Five Transgender Comedians in the country by Advocate in 2013. She was also the first transgender woman to enter and become a finalist in the Ladies in Laughter competition. But her biggest break came when she became a quarter-finalist and fan favorite on season 11 of “America’s Got Talent.”
Scotti said that level of national exposure has had a major effect on her career as well as her life, taking her from comedy clubs and bars to theaters and casinos across the country.
“It’s changed my life, hopefully forever, for the good,” she said. “When [‘America’s Got Talent’] first aired, I was getting recognized on the street a lot. That has sort of subsided. In terms of building and developing an audience, I got a CD out of it and signed to a record company. I’m performing in bigger and different places. We’re starting to see people coming out to see the show specifically. It’s been big stuff and little stuff.”
Scotti added that “AGT” has increased her popularity among comedy audiences and helped solidify the demographic of her fans.
“My demographic, you would think, would be nothing but old people, but it’s not,” she said. “The mean age is people in their 30s. Before the show, the demographic was a crapshoot. Now I’m seeing a demographic settle into place. Some people come back two, three or four times to see that show, which puts a lot of pressure on you to write new material. Now with the CD coming out, there’s more pressure.”
Scotti was a comedian long before she transitioned and, while she touches on that aspect of her life in her comedy, more often than not — especially in front of your average beer-drinking, straight-identified mainstream audience — that isn’t the basis for the majority of her material.
“After ‘America’s Got Talent,’ I felt a lot freer to talk about it because it was no longer a secret,” she said. “I do talk about it, but it’s not the bulk of my act because people would get tired of hearing that too. I may talk some more about it in the new hour that I’m writing. I’m going to set aside some time to deal with that too. It’s not all of what I do. It’s a really small part actually.”
She added that while the size of her following has increased dramatically since being on “America’s Got Talent,” her LGBT fanbase hasn’t grown at the same rate.
“I know this sounds silly but I don’t get a lot of LGBT folks coming to my shows and I don’t know if it’s because it’s in a mainstream venue,” she said. “And almost no trans people ever come out to my shows and I don’t know why that is either. I would love for more to come out and join in the fun. I have noticed an uptick in speaking events and performing for strictly LGBT venues, but those two worlds never collide for some reason.”
Scotti’s higher profile has also attracted the attention of filmmakers who are currently finishing up a documentary about her life and career.
“It’s in editing right now,” she said about the film. “They’re doing post-production work right now. We did the final shoot at the Friar’s Club in New York. They wouldn’t let me see it; it’s a very hush-hush thing. But it’s focusing on my life, including comedy.”
As for her future, Scotti plans to spend as much time on stage as possible while also pursuing any other opportunities that might arise.
“I would love to do another CD next year,” she said. “I’m working on a new hour now. I would love to get hooked into a regular [gig], like a TV series. You want to be out in front of an audience every week to build your name and reputation. I love doing standup. I’ll never stop doing standup. I like to do bigger venues in different cities. Whatever comes my way, I’d be excited to do.”
Julia Scotti’s new CD, “Hello Boys … I’m Back,” is slated for release Sept. 8 via Uproar Entertainment. For more information, visit www.juliascotti.com.