Kerri Pomarolli wanted to be an actress.
To put it more accurately, she wanted to be a famous actress.
“I got my degree in musical theater and knew that Los Angeles — not New York — was the route that I wanted to take,” said the Michigan native who recently relocated to Sacramento, Calif., after living in Los Angeles for 20 years. “And like all aspiring actresses, I was going to move to Hollywood and become a star.”
It worked for a time, as she landed recurring roles on popular daytime soap operas, including “Port Charles,” “The Young and the Restless” and “General Hospital,” as well as the film “Deadlock.”
But something didn’t resonate.
“I am a person of faith, and that’s a big part of my life,” Pomarolli said. “I didn’t find that to be a part of my Hollywood experience.”
Deciding to hone another skill, she tapped into comedy, cutting her teeth with the Second City and the improv troupe the Groundlings — known as the training ground for such comics as Will Ferrell, Ana Gasteyer, Kathy Griffin, Phil Hartman, Rachael Harris, Lisa Kudrow, Jon Lovitz, Pat Morita, Maya Rudolph and Mindy Sterling, among others.
“I just wanted to make people happy, and I found so much joy there,” Pomarolli said. “I felt like my comfort level and material and content worked there. It took off really fast.”
Today, the single mom of two divides her time between stand-up comedy and writing, collaborating with the likes of Jay Leno, Jim Carrey, Carol Channing and Jerry Lewis.
She has been featured on nearly every major television network, bringing her brand of comedy to “The Tonight Show” multiple times, in addition to appearing on Comedy Central, as well as CNN’s “Showbiz Tonight” and hosting “Laugh Break” on MOMTV. She also was featured in the documentary, “Hollywood on Fire,” exploring faith in the entertainment industry.
As an author, Pomarolli has written the books, “If I’m Waiting on God, Then What am I Doing in a Christian Chatroom?” — later published as “Guys Like Girls Named Jennie” — “How to Ruin Your Dating Life,” “Mom’s Night Out” (later made into a film of the same name), “Confessions of a Proverbs 32 Woman” and “She Rises Late and Her Kids Make Her Breakfast: Devotions for the Proverbs 32 Woman.”
She also pens columns for national publications and has had film scripts picked up by the Hallmark Channel.
Pomarolli serves as the Telegraph Herald and Her magazine’s Her Night Out keynote speaker this year, from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3, at the Grand River Center in the Port of Dubuque.
It includes shopping from local vendors, a fashion show, dinner, a cash bar and drawings for prizes.
While Pomarolli said her faith is central to her life, she doesn’t consider herself a Christian comic and said attendees should come prepared for her to dish about everything — though she does pride herself on keeping her comedy show clean.
“I just happen to be a person of faith who is a comedian,” she said. “I see comedy as empowerment. As a young woman especially, I found it as a way to take control of my career and my destiny. I could make my own road with it, rather than having to take my top off in Hollywood.
“Laughter is contagious, whether you’re 22 or 82. No topic is off-limits, as long as it’s funny. But I always say, I could take my mother to all my shows. My comedy is for everyone.”
Pomarolli, who juggles parenting with a busy schedule thanks in part to a “helpful ex-husband” — particularly enjoys connecting with women and makes women’s events a regular part of her national engagements.
Among those, she’s in her third year touring with fellow comedian Bob Smiley with her sold-out tour aimed at singles, “Single is Not a 4 Letter Word.”
On the home front, she’s also a regular at Los Angeles’ top comedy clubs.
“I kiss the ground for every opportunity and do a little dance, but I can’t lie, women’s events are my favorite,” Pomarolli said. “There is all kinds of material that is just funny for women or for groups of women. Especially after COVID, I think we’re dealing with a lot of women who are like me and have been locked up in the house with two kids and are just looking for a good time. We can laugh and feel better about ourselves. And more than anything, women can look at me and say, ‘Dang, I’m not the most messed up person in the room. This woman is much more of a hot mess than I am.’”
On the contrary, Pomarolli’s said her success in pivoting to comedy also can be a reminder to women in every stage of life.
“It’s never too late to achieve your goals, and you never have to follow a timeline,” she said. “That’s something that is made up entirely by us. Sometimes, we just need the reminder to ourselves that we can do it over and at any age, any time.”
Megan Gloss writes for the Telegraph Herald.