Just Asking: Lisa Valentine Clark
Comedic actor and mother of five Lisa Valentine Clark talks about her family life, her struggle with perfectionism, and her starring role in the web series Pretty Darn Funny, which premiers its second season next week.
Q: You’re most well known for your work with the web comedy series Pretty Darn Funny. Why did you choose to become involved with that project?
A: I feel very fortunate to be a part of Pretty Darn Funny. I chose to become involved with the project as soon as Jeff Parkin and Jared Cardon approached me about it. I had worked with them on a previous project, and I knew whatever they worked on would be fabulous.
Q: Being a mother of five is certainly a big part of your identity. How do you feel this impacts the work you do?
A: Being a mother has been the biggest focus of my life, so it impacts everything I do, especially the work I do. The funniest things that have happened to me, the saddest, the most desperate, have all come out of my identity as a mother. Parenthood is a great common human connector and in my work, I use that to connect with audiences.
Q: How hard is it to be funny and clean?
A: I don’t think it’s hard to be funny and “clean.” Lowest-common-denominator humor doesn’t appeal to me (I’ve raised enough 3-year-olds to really be over those kinds of jokes). Most of my humor comes from observations from real life, and that includes being a Mormon, so I don’t really compartmentalize what I think is funny. I’ve been very fortunate to work as a comedic actor and writer on a lot of different projects, and I am super lucky that I have a lot of extremely talented, dear friends who happen to be the funniest people on the planet, who make being funny look easy.
Q: In Pretty Darn Funny, you play Gracie Moore. How is she similar and/or different to you?
A: Gracie and I both share a love of doing fun things with our families, a passion for standing up for ourselves, and an unusual fondness for artificial cheese flavoring. We both started acting troupes and try to balance family life with our artistic pursuits. Gracie and I differ in that I have more children and am a little more easy going, and I try not to break into board rooms to prove a point.
Q: On your blog, you say, “I’m lowering the bar and being awesome. That’s it.” Briefly explain what that means.
A: I’m a recovering perfectionist who is trying to live the best life I can in a real and full way, and that’s my motto. Several years ago, I found myself pregnant with my fifth child in 10 years, cleaning up vomit on the living room carpet while my husband was gone (at the time he had a full-time job, a part-time job, was going to school full time, and serving in a bishopric), trying to remember when I had last felt well rested. I was evaluating my life decisions, and I decided that I needed to let go of what I didn’t need to do in order to survive. It was my way of telling myself to choose to be happy (awesome) now, and not wait for it. That means different things to different moms. To me, it meant less stuff in my house, less obsessive cleaning, and more junior bacon cheeseburgers, among other things.
Q: What are some things on your bucket list?
A: I don’t really have a checklist of things I want to accomplish before I die, because I don’t want to miss what’s happening now, when unexpected opportunities pop up. But I would love to make another movie with my friends, a sitcom, write an interesting book, and travel the world with my family.
Q: Do your kids think you’re funny? Does your husband?
A: I think my kids think I’m funny. They humor me because I feed them, and I’ll take that. My husband thinks I’m funny, but he also thinks I’m weird. Ours is not a dull house.
Q: Who are your heroes?
A: I admire my mother, the lovely and vivacious Shauna Valentine. She’s accomplished so much in her life with intelligence, grace, and a good sense of humor. So much of what I do and benefit from can be directly linked to her influence. She doesn’t get a lot of attention, but she doesn’t care about that, and she has directly impacted countless lives in meaningful ways with her service and example.
Q: Give us a sneak preview of Pretty Darn Funny season 2. How will it be different from season 1?
A: At the beginning of Season 2, time has passed, and we get a glimpse of how the comedy troupe is progressing. We also get more of a glimpse into Gracie’s home life and see how she balances the demands of family life and troupe life.
Q: What is your favorite hymn? Primary song?
A: My favorite hymn is a tie: “Jesus, Lover of My Soul” and “Come, Come Ye Saints.” My favorite Primary song is also a tie: “Nephi’s Courage” and “On a Golden Springtime.”
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received?
A: The best advice I ever received was from my dad on my wedding day when I asked him for advice, hoping to create a meaningful father-daughter moment. He said, “Be nice. You know how you can get.”
Check out this hilarious video the cast of Pretty Darn Funny made during season 1 last year: