L.A.-based, Boston-area-raised comedian Valerie Tosi’s star was on the rise before the pandemic. She was touring all over the country, appearing in a viral commercial for Lyft – alongside Kevin Hart and Ice Cube – and was featured on The Joel McHale Show. She even performed a hilarious set on Conan in late 2019. And then, a few short months later, the pandemic hit.
Rather than wallowing in her sorrows – OK, maybe there was a tiny bit of sadness – Tosi found a way to fuel her spirit, and in turn her comedy, by giving back. Inspired by human connection, she was able to use what could have been a career setback as an opportunity to write, record, and release her debut comedy album, Beach Trash, now available via Blonde Medicine.
The album is hilarious, and a bit heartwarming, as Tosi explores the ups and downs of the on-going COVID saga, conversations with her parents – now “living their best lives” down in Florida – and the struggles of being a bisexual woman.
“I feel like there’s something for everybody on the album. I really tried to hit a bunch of different topics because I know that everyone is sick of hearing about COVID. We’re all just so over it. But, I do feel like the material that’s on there about it is from a unique perspective and it isn’t just like the same thing you’re hearing everywhere else,” said Tosi by phone prior to the Beach Trash‘s release. “It’s funny because the album is half things I wrote during quarantine and the other half is things that I’ve been doing on the road for a long time, so I think it’s a nice culmination of both the before times and the after times.”
Tosi always loved connecting with people on stage and off. After the pandemic hit, she volunteered at a vaccination site and an election polling place to “stay sane and also try to help.” Through genuine connections, Tosi became inspired to recalibrate, perform Zoom shows, and write new material that would eventually land on Beach Trash.
“I was trying to volunteer at other places and trying to do all of the things that I always wished I had time for, but I never did because I was always on the road and running around. I think that made me put things into perspective and allowed me to get back into writing again and doing some stuff over Zoom. And it didn’t feel like the world was over,” she explained. “I tell people when I started working at the vaccination site, it was like somebody turned the lights back on because I’m used to being social. I’m used to being around people and then all of a sudden that was cut off. To finally be able to be around people again was such a huge jolt of endorphins. It was exactly what I needed and I’m so thankful to have been able to meet so many really cool people at that site. It was great.”
Some of the funniest material on Beach Trash is inspired by Tosi’s interactions with her parents. From a canceled divorce plan to mispronouncing “charcuterie” to the joy of hoarding clams, Tosi details every hilarious conversation.
“Both of my parents are unintentionally hilarious,” she said. “I think there are definitely times where my dad likes to be a button pusher and he knows how to get a rise out of me, but my mom is such a funny foil to him. It’s very much like a modern day Archie and Edith vibe with the two of them. It’s just very funny.”
Beach Trash was recorded at The Comedy Attic in Bloomington, Indiana, and Tosi has relished the opportunity to perform in front of crowds again. She has tons of tour dates listed on her website and she has been “so happy” to return to the road.
“I cried after the first time I got back on stage. I really did. I tried to do one or two sets during everything and I just wasn’t comfortable. The first real set that I had was actually on my birthday. It was truly the greatest gift and I sobbed,” Tosi said with a laugh. “My adrenaline was crazy too because it was like, ‘Do I even remember how to do this?’ It was wild. I’m so happy to be back on the road and it’s been so fun. It’s wild when you live in a city like L.A. because we’re so locked up tight here and you go to other places in the country and it feels like COVID isn’t even really a thing. It’s such a mind warp to go from here to Texas or go from here to Georgia or wherever. People are just doing their thing and you’re like, ‘this is so insane.’”
It’s been challenging for comedians to navigate COVID material, to balance the line of comedy and tragedy, and Tosi does a masterful job finding the funny in the “before times and the after times.” Beach Trash is charming, thoughtful, and full of laughs.
Tosi said, “It’s so crazy, with all of us collectively living the last three years of insanity, to actually come out of it with something tangible. I feel very, very lucky.”
Check out Beach Trash on Bandcamp, Spotify, or wherever you listen to albums. Click here to see Tosi’s upcoming tour dates and keep up with Tosi on Twitter and Instagram.