Special to The Republican
Comedienne Vicki Barbolak used to go model home shopping with her grandmother to San Bernardino, California, where they would look at trailers.
Now she lives in one herself and it should come as no surprise that she has built her comedy routine around what she calls "trailer nasty."
The award-winning comedian, who was a Top 10 finalist on the popular NBC television show, America's Got Talent, is bringing her Trailer Nasty! Tour 2019 to Roar Comedy Club at MGM Springfield for three nights, Friday through Sunday.
While the judges - Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel and Heidi Klum - had a love affair with Barbolak, she said she never thought she had a chance on making the list of contestants for the show's 13th season.
"An old comedian friend of mine, who is now more of a Hollywood producer and is involved with the network for American's Got Talent, wanted me to submit a video to be cast on the show. I kept telling her that they would never take me. All too often I've heard you're too fat, ugly, too old, and you begin to believe that. But she went ahead on her own and compiled and submitted an audition tape for me using footage from YouTube," Barbolak said.
"The day of the audition I sat in my car and wrote down all the reasons why I should be on the show, then on the next page I thanked everyone who helped me in my life of comedy, then I went in ready for the audition," she added.
While Barbolak made it all the way to the show's finale and ended up placing sixth, she still considers herself a winner.
"I felt so grateful to be in the finale. It was a shock to me and I was filled with incredible gratitude. And I always thought that Shin Lim should win," she said about the close-up magician.
Barbolak learned, like many other contestants, that you don't necessarily have to be crowned the winner to have your life changed.
"My social media exploded and I found myself being represented by Gersh. Before that they wouldn't even allow me inside to deliver flowers," she joked about the powerhouse talent and booking agency located in Beverly Hills and New York.
"I'm just so grateful. They started my Trailer Nasty Tour around the country, which is mostly selling out. It's been so much fun and I always dreamed something like this would happen to me. But, I still peek out at the audience before a show thinking that at the last minute no one will come," she added.
It all started for Barbolak some 20 years ago, when she saw an ad for a stand-up comedy class. After a few years testing her skills at open mic nights, she was taken under the wings of Mitzi Shore, owner of The Comedy Store, where she further developed her talents as a comedian. Since then, she's been named a member of Jay Leno's NBC Laugh Squad, won Funniest Mom in America on Nick @ Nite, and has been featured by E! Television as the Next Breakout Star to come from The Comedy Store.
"My parents thought I was crazy to try to establish a career in comedy. They had a very successful business and were ready to retire and assumed I would take it over. I told them to sell it and keep the money for their retirement, that I wanted to do what makes me happy. So, I had kept enough money from a divorce and purchased an $11,000 trailer which I moved into with my two girls, Lily and Emily, now grown, who are still my life," Barbolak said, noting she always felt a trailer life was meant for her.
And the rest is history.
While on America's Got Talent, Barbolak was told by judge Howie Mandel, "I think you just came up with your own sitcom, and judge Simon Cowell told her he could see her in a reality show and intimated that he might pursue that opportunity with Barbolak.
"Nothing yet, but I did meet with Syco Entertainment founded by Simon. Development deals take forever. I've also been doing a few auditions and have talked with casting directors. Also the head of one of the big networks has taken me under her wing and I have done some auditions and met with casting directors which is super fun," she said.
Today life is great for Barbolak, 60, who bought a new trailer while appearing on America's Got Talent and lives in the Rancho Calevero Mobile Home Park in Oceanside, California, with her husband Lou Barbolak, piano player at the La Jolla Comedy Store where they met.
She spends what little time she has left when not doing stand-up speaking at organizations and conferences on ways to bring appropriate "funny" back into the workplace. She is also the creator of Wedding Chapel to Go. Realizing that weddings can be stressful and expensive, Barbolak, an ordained minister, designed a service for couples desiring a romantic, fun and truly unique ceremony without the high cost of typical weddings.