Sabrina MatthewsSabrina Matthews wears comfortable shoes and lives “amidst the doughnut shops and dude-speak” of Los Angeles. All this makes great fodder for her comedy routine while providing a healthy perspective on money, the housing market and getting paid to do what she loves. Laugh, smile and enjoy!

1. What was your first big financial break in comedy?
I once heard David Bowie give an interview in which he said he spent years never clearing any real money: the debts he had racked up and the people he needed to work with ate up all the profits. If I remember it right, he said “Let’s Dance” was the first album from which he really made a nice chunk of change– and that was his seventeenth album… I love Bowie, and he said all that in such a casual, un-self-pitying way; I think I always knew from then on that you had to be absolutely huge to live the way most people think rock stars and tv people live all the time.

Anyway, I guess I’m saying that my first big break came the first time I was paid to do comedy, because that was the beginning of the path most artists follow, which is trying to make enough money at their craft to keep working at something they enjoy. I guess the next big break was my half-hour special from Comedy Central, which let me pay off some debts. I haven’t had my “Let’s Dance” break yet, but I do make a living doing what I enjoy, and that’s pretty great.

2. Are there economic advantages to being butch?
If there are, I hope someone will let me in on the secret.

3. What is your most significant childhood memory about money?
Having two old Volkswagen buses and riding around in the one that was working best until we could afford to fix the other, when that one would become the one that was working best… Or maybe selling our house because we couldn’t afford the taxes.

4. As an Aries, is it true your sign has you preferring fame to money?
I have no idea, I don’t know much about astrology, and I don’t crave fame or a lot of money. I want to be happy and do more good than harm, particularly environmentally.

5. How come there’s a “heap of letters from the IRS” on your desk?
Umm, it’s a joke.

6. What did your mother teach you about money?
That we didn’t have any.

7. Did you make any money from that Laughing Matters…More documentary?
Not much.

8. I understand that you just sold your home. How did you close the deal in this housing market?
I didn’t listen to anyone who said I couldn’t or shouldn’t.

9. Who should pay on the first date?
Whoever can offer without copping a resentment if the other person doesn’t have the manners to say thank you. Or go dutch.

10. Have you ever had a big fight about money?
No, but I know I’ve argued over decisions that had to be made or things that had to be missed out on because of lack of money. I don’t think most Americans actually fight over money: I think we fight because of the tensions caused by not having enough to do the things we want or even need. I also think this country has a dangerous mentality around consumerism. I think so many people here are unhappy and just chasing happiness– or unhappy BECAUSE they are chasing happiness– and we have constant input telling us a burger will make us happy, or a car, or a pair of jeans. Then you get that thing and you don’t become happy: you enjoy it, but soon you realize you’re not happy– but by then you’ve seen something else shiny that you think WILL make you happy… That mentality gives money an incredible amount of power in our society.

I believe that I have to find joy where I am– of course every moment isn’t a bowl of cherries, but if I can notice that I am healthy, or that I have a big comfy chair, or how much I love to go to the beach and swim with my dog– just try to be aware of all the little bits of joy that are there all the time. Then I can relax about money going where it needs to go and be calmer about what I can afford to do recreationally. And be sure that it is going to add to the ways I already know happiness.

So maybe that was my big financial break; realizing that I couldn’t let my happiness or idea of success depend on whether I have a big financial break…

More about Sabrina Matthews
Sabrina Matthews is an openly lesbian comic who relates the absurd in everyday life in a witty anecdotal style. “Sabrina’s brand of comedy is infectious,” says afterellen.com, and she “regularly draws out big laughs from both gay and straight audiences.”

Her credits include her hilarious half-hour comedy special, “Comedy Central Presents Sabrina Matthews”, a starring role in 2006’s hit documentary, Laughing Matters…More!, and semi-finalist in this year’s Last Comic Standing on NBC. After her television acting debut in “America’s Most Wanted” (yes, really), she has moved on to appear with Laura Kightlinger in IFC’s The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman, and in Margaret Cho’s 2007 film release, Bam Bam and Celeste.

Sabrina began her comedy career in the San Francisco Bay Area, and now appears regularly at clubs, colleges, cruises, and festivals around the world. On the rare days that she is home amidst the doughnut shops and dude-speak of Los Angeles, Sabrina spends her days scuba diving, teaching her dog not to eat furniture, engaging in her favorite game (Point and Laugh), and generally doing anything else to avoid rifling through the heap of letters from the IRS teetering on her desk in search of tiny, hastily scribbled comedy notes. All in comfortable shoes.

Photo credit: Angela Brinskele

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Some interviews in the Ten Money Questions archive with other funny ladies include Kate Clinton and Suzanne Westenhoefer.