The 'SNL' alum talks about her life in Miami as the wife of a cop and mother of two girls.
By DEBORA SHAULIS
Things have changed for baby-voiced comedian Victoria Jackson since she turned her world upside down nine years ago, trading her role on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" for family life.
Then again, some things haven't changed.
"I can still can hold a handstand even though I'm 411/2 years old," Jackson says proudly. She'll prove it while reciting poetry this weekend at Funny Farm Comedy Club in Girard.
Jackson's father was a gymnastics coach, so she spent a good deal of her childhood in gymnasiums. "If you kick up to a handstand for five years ... you learn how to hold it," she said, calling from her home in Miami, where she was attempting to potty-train her younger daughter's Yorkie puppy.
Jackson doesn't do arm exercises. "I do have big shoulders," she said. She can hold a handstand for almost a minute, "which is a really long time," she noted.
The stunt that landed her the first of 22 bookings on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson is a small part of her stand-up show today.
"Basically, my act is about how much I hate Miami," her hometown, she said.
Married high school sweetheart: Jackson was living in Los Angeles and making movies when she was reunited with her high school sweetheart, police helicopter pilot Paul Wessel. They had been engaged in 1976 but broke it off. Each married and divorced someone else. They married in 1992.
"I thought he'd move to LA ... I guess it never entered his mind," she said. For five years, she stayed at home in a Miami suburb with her two daughters. "I was kinda depressed -- very depressed. Even though I love my kids and everything, I was kinda getting bored of watching 'Barney' every day."
Then she got a call from "SNL" alum Kevin Nealon, who asked her to open a show for him. "That's when I decided I could do stand-up and still be a perfect wife," she said. There was only one problem: She didn't have an act.
"So I started thinking about" -- Jackson stopped, then sighed -- "my anger."
She talks about "what it's like to be married to a cop who's anal retentive" and brings his police personality home, she said. She talks about the three types of people who live in Miami -- "Cuban, retired and naked" -- and how she doesn't fit in.
She still sings ukulele songs, including one about death.
"Basically it's psychotherapy, but I get paid for it," Jackson said of her act.
Family: Jackson may joke at her husband's expense, but she's head over heels for him.
Her husband helped her to write much of the material while they were on a four-hour road trip. "I'm in love with him so I enjoy making fun of him. He enjoys it too," she said.
These days, Jackson travels about once a month. She maintains an apartment in Los Angeles, which she uses "when I need a little fix." The family will spend the summer there, once her two daughters finish school.
Jackson yelps. The Yorkie is biting her.
She's been trying to create new jokes based on her daughters. "I always thought of my kids as sacred ... [but] the things they say are so sweet and cute."
Jackson stops. The puppy needs a potty break. She pushes him toward some newspaper.
Asked if she'll accelerate her career once her children are older, "Yeah, I'm thinking -- good doggy! I'm supposed to praise him a lot. ... I said to my husband, 'Paul, when are you going to retire so I can move to LA and have an acting career?
"He said, 'When I'm 57.'" Hollywood loves 57-year-old women, she said sarcastically; maybe she'll be someone's TV mom in another 10 years.
In the meantime, she could teach that dog how to stand on its front paws.
kVictoria Jackson performs at 8 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Funny Farm Comedy Club in Holiday Inn MetroPlex, Girard. Call (330) 759-4242 for tickets.