By Arielle Dollinger
Once the girl beneath the bright red tresses and now the girl beneath the bubble gum pink strands, Commack native Carly Aquilino will take the stage of The Paramount on Sept. 26 – the stand-up comic's first-ever Long Island performance.
The 23-year-old comedian, who graduated Commack High School in 2008, worked as a hairdresser in New York City before turning her interest in stand-up comedy into a career.
“I never thought I would actually do it,” she said, noting that she had no stage experience before she started doing open mic nights and bar shows. “It was something that was really foreign to me.”
At age 20, Aquilino enrolled in a weekly class at Gotham Comedy Club – a venue whose stage, to date, has seen the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Dave Chappelle, Larry David and Roseanne – to expand her knowledge of the craft.
“I had always wanted to do stand-up, and I had been writing comedy, just little bits here and there for a few years before I actually started to go up on stage,” said Aquilino, currently a Brooklyn resident.
One open mic night brought in a man named Ryan Ling – creator of an MTV2 show called “Guy Code,” which allowed pop culture figures to speak candidly about the unwritten rules of interaction with other men – and the offer of an audition. Ling and Aquilino had met before, and after seeing her stand-up act Ling asked her to audition for “Girl Code,” the “Guy Code” counterpart.
She got a spot on the show.
“It happened really quickly,” she said. “The next thing I knew, I was traveling and getting to really experience the whole thing.”
Her self-described “brutally honest” comedic style seems in agreement with the style of “Girl Code.”
“It's just a bunch of girls talking about things that happen to us,” she said. “These things happen to all of us. We all have insecurities, we all get rejected, we all have friends, we all have frenemies... The best part about the show is that we're just allowed to be ourselves.”
In her stand-up, as well, she talks about her own experiences.
“I don't really candy coat anything, and I talk about things that are really relatable to people and I make them funny,” she said. “I like to keep it current, and I like to keep it to the situations that are really just going on in my life right now.”
Now years removed, Aquilino said that her high school experience at Commack was “pretty standard,” accompanied by a “pretty standard hate for school.”
“I was planning on being a hairdresser,” said Aquilino, who studied cosmetology at Wilson Tech during her high school years. “It's probably better off I wasn't, because I wasn't very good at it.”
Until she died it pink in recent weeks, her cherry-red hair was a high school artifact. Now, it is “pink-to-red ombre” – an effort to transition her hair to pink without burning it off with bleach.
“I felt like it's time for a change,” she said.
Shopping and eating habits in tact, Aquilino said that she finds herself missing “little things” about Long Island while on the road.
“I love Target, I love malls,” she said.
She looks for T.J. Maxx stores in different states.
“I just love little things like that,” she said. “It reminds me of home.”
And T.J. Maxx is a better shopping destination in places without many people, she noted – in Cleveland, because the merchandise has not been picked over, she will “buy the whole entire store.”
Aquilino's Sept. 26 Paramount show begins at 8 p.m. Ticket prices range from $35 to $50.