Comedian Amber Preston was born and raised in Fargo, but now feels she's put some distance between herself and her hometown, figuratively and literally. "I've been away from Fargo longer than I lived there," she explains. "I graduated from high school, and then moved to Minneapolis and lived there for 15 years. Then in January, I moved to Los Angeles. I'd been wanting to for a while and, finally, one of the girls I'm living with now messaged me on Facebook. There were a bunch of Minneapolis comics moving out there at the time, and it was winter. This past winter was horrendous, so I figured, 'This is the time. Let's go for it.'"
Returning this week to do a series of shows at the Joke Joint provides an affordable way to come back and visit family and friends. "Any chance I get to get paid and come back and see them, I'll do it."
Growing up in North Dakota's largest city, Preston was interested in comedy, but not necessarily standup. "In high school I did musicals," she says, "and then I went to the University of Minnesota for theater. I did improv in college, but was usually doing musical theater and more of the funny stuff. I liked standup, but didn't think it was a viable option until a few years later when I decided to try it and, like a drug, I got sucked in."
Standup isn't her be-all and end-all now, though. She still does improv "just for the sake of having something different," she explains. "And being in L.A. with the UCB [Upright Citizen's Brigade] theater -- if I'm going to take an improv class, I might as well take it where lots of funny people come from. Anything I can do that can get me further along in my career to where I can do more standup, I'm all for it." Preston also enjoys being able to flex some different comedy muscles by doing improv.
The ultimate goal though is to increase the size of her standup audience. "I think I would love to get on TV and do something, and then have the luxury of saying exactly when and where I could perform standup," she says. "After you get your face on the screen, you can really call the shots on where you want to perform. I just never want to have to sit in an office." Well, with one exception, of course. "If it was in an office writing on a show, I could do that. I just always want to be doing something creative."
Being in Los Angeles gives her more options to do that, of course. "I enjoy acting and there are so many possibilities out here. I'm not going to turn anything down. I want to work. I know I can always hit the road and do standup. I've got that in my back pocket, so I can try other things and keep those skills sharp for when I need them." Living in L.A. with three roommates has also stimulated her creativity.
"I've done sketch with some groups in the past in Minneapolis," she says, "and some of the people I did that with moved to L.A. four or five years ago, so I might strike back up with some of those folks. I live in a house with a woman who wants to write for TV and an actress, so we all sit around and bounce ideas off each other. I also host a show in Los Angeles with another Minneapolis comedian, Andy Anderson. We have a monthly standup show. I'm out and about trying to keep busy out here and seeing what happens."
IF YOU GO:
The Joke Joint Comedy Club
801 Sibley Memorial Hwy., Lilydale; 651-330-9078
8 p.m. Thursday through Friday, 10:30 Friday; 7:30 and 9:45 p.m. Saturday