Comedian Mary Tischbein’s self-diagnosed “meeting disorder” led her to comedy. She dealt with excruciating shyness and social anxiety; the kind that made her turn beet red and get sick to her stomach. So, Tischbein prescribed herself a comedy class at McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre along with some cures for the symptoms: mineral powder, Xanax and Imodium A-D.
“But I’m off all of those now,” she says. “Except the mineral powder — I snort two lines before every show.” Tischbein laughs at her joke, which she likes to use as an opener for her smart, clean, comedy routine.
Since her first time performing standup at the close of the comedy class, she has been performing regularly at open-mic nights, comedy nights and at festivals around the region — she’s been to eight states, so far.
In 2011, she was named Florida’s Funniest Comedian in the Sarasota division. And, the last weekend of July, she returned from the Cape May (N.J.) Comedy Festival, where she was one of three Florida comedians out of nearly 100 performers.
In just five years of performing, she is now recognized at supermarkets and the airport, which she thinks is strange.
And, she’s just finished filming a pilot for an untitled program on Comedy Central for writer Matt Harrigan (“Late Show with David Letterman”). The pilot, deemed “Untitled Cruise Ship Project,” centers on corrupt employees of a cruise-ship line. They filmed it in West Palm Beach, and she thinks it will premiere this fall. Tischbein plays the principal role of Grieving Wife.
Tischbein only does comedy-related business on the weekends or when she takes a vacation from her day job as the junior accountant for the Exceptional Student Education for Manatee County School District.
In 1998, she moved here from Long Island, N.Y. with her twin sister, Margaret Keller, whom she refers to as “my skinny twin.”
“What’s it like having a skinny twin?” she asks. “I had to distract with jokes.”
Tischbein’s plans for moving here were to take care of her mother, Margaret, because her mom wasn’t doing well. Her mother is doing better than she had expected, and now the 87-year-old is her biggest fan. Tischbein loves seeing her in the audience.
“I feel like I know a million people and someone’s always got a relative in the hospital, a lost dog or a breakup, and if you are able to gently add humor to the moment — you can see the pain come out of their face,” Tischbein says.
For more information on Mary Tischbein (and where you can see her perform) check out her website: longislandmary.com.