There aren’t too many second acts in life like Julia Scotti is getting.
Having turned 69 earlier this month, Ms. Scotti rose to comedic fame back in 2016, when she reached the quarterfinals of the NBC hit show “America’s Got Talent” with her takes on aging and everyday life.
She’s currently the subject of an award-winning documentary called “Julia Scotti: Funny That Way,” which is getting rave reviews and is now available on iTunes and Amazon Prime.
She’s headed to the Milton Theatre on June 18 at 8 p.m. for a standup show in conjunction with Milton Pride Month.
A New Jersey native, for the first 48 years of her life, she was better known as comedian Rick Scotti. She toured the country, both as a headliner in comedy clubs and as an opening act for artists such as Lou Rawls, Chicago and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
In 2000, she left comedy to begin her transition to Julia Scotti and also to start a career as a teacher, where she remained for seven years. She was also a stockbroker for a time. But in 2011, after more than a decade off from comedy, she returned to the stage.
“I became a teacher and then a stockbroker, so I wasn’t thinking that (comedy) way. But a chance meeting with an old comedy friend, Chris Rich, who mentioned that she was working this club that I knew and was coming back to comedy. ... She said since she was there, why don’t I come in and do a set?” Ms. Scotti recalled this week.
“And comics can’t resist that. It’s like dangling a carrot in front of them. And little by little, once I got that first lift like that, I was hooked again.”
A few years later, “America’s Got Talent” came calling and asked her if she wanted to try out for the show after hearing her story and about her renewed success on the comedy circuit.
She passed the audition and appeared on the show, bowling over the judges, especially Howie Mandel and Simon Cowell. None of her initial routine mentioned her being transgender. As she explained, she wanted the material to stand on its own.
It mainly focused on her being this sweet, little old lady with a sharp tongue, who actually dropped an expletive during the show.
It wasn’t until the judges talked to her after her segment that she revealed that she had a life in the past when she was comedian Rick Scotti.
She said that wasn’t planned.
“I call it the ‘mother of all coming-out stories’ because how many people get to come out in front of 13 million people? So if you’re gonna go, go big or go home. That’s the way I feel,” she said.
“So it did have an impact on a lot of people, and I’m grateful for that. They left it up to me as to whether or not I was going to do the reveal. I know they wanted me to, but they didn’t force me to.”
She joked that if she didn’t reveal her story, “I maybe wouldn’t have gotten a second appearance.”
It all worked out for the best, she added.
“(The back story) is usually gold for the media, and I know that was a part of why they booked me on the show in the first place. The other part was that I was able to be funny on top of having the story. So there was no pretense about it. We each got what we wanted out of it. So that was nice,” she said.
Career-wise, Ms. Scotti said she is a comedian first and a transgender person second.
“I’m a comic who happens to be trans. I’m not a trans comic, and I keep making that distinction to people, but they keep writing ‘trans comic Julia Scotti,’ to the point where I think that’s my full name. And so I don’t talk a lot about it, but I do mention it. It’s part of who I am,” she said.
She appeared on last year’s “More Funny Women of a Certain Age” comedy showcase on Showtime, where she talked mostly about her age, saying all she got for her birthday was a 5,000-piece jigsaw puzzle “with mostly sky” and a pair of slippers. And that now, when she watches The History Channel, she just constantly says, “I remember that. I remember that.”
About two minutes of her 13-minute routine was devoted to her experience of coming out as a transgender person to her ex-wife and having her say, “Is there another woman?” And she responded, “Well, kind of, yeah.”
Her story, past and present, is on full display in the new documentary.
It goes through her experience with gender dysmorphia and having everyone turn away from her, most notably her children.
It also shows her journey back and her children reaching out to her after 15 years of silence.
Just last week, singer Cyndi Lauper tweeted, “Such a great story. Check it out.”
Ms. Scotti said she is very gratified by the response she and the movie are getting.
“I’m happy on so many levels. I mean, I’m happy that Susan Sandler, the producer and director and the writer of this movie — she didn’t need to devote five years of her life to doing this project. She had a very nice life as a professor at (New York University), and she’d written ‘Crossing Delancey,’ a very successful movie. And so she didn’t need the likes of me upsetting the apple cart for five years. But she approached me about it, and it’s five years later. It’s gotten great reviews, so we’re really, really happy with the reception it’s getting,” she said.
After being approached with the idea of making the documentary, Ms. Scotti thought long and hard about it.
“The decision-maker for me was I felt like this is a movie that needed to be made because there are people out there suffering with this. They feel alone and are literally killing themselves over the desperation of dealing with transitioning. And I thought maybe this movie would help people see that there’s light beyond transitioning,” she said.
People who have seen the movie have contacted her to thank her for telling her story.
“Somebody just the other day, sent me an email. They had seen my coming out on ‘AGT.’ And that was the thing that was the impetus that got them going, and they’ve just completed transitioning. So it’s a nice feeling to know that, in some way, I have been able to help people with it, either through my appearances on ‘AGT’ or with this movie,” she said.
In the film, her friend, Ms. Rich, noted that before the transition, Ms. Scotti was a “sad sack,” and now, she is full of life. The comic agreed.
“I thought that I was keeping my sad sackiness under control. Apparently, people were picking up on it,” she said.
“Now, I’m incredibly happy. But more importantly, I’m at peace with myself, and ... I think if you can find that, then happiness just comes automatically,” she said.
Tickets for her June 18 show at the Milton Theatre are available at miltontheatre.com. For individuals or groups larger than four, call the box office at 684-3038 for assistance.
The Milton Theatre is at 110 Union St.
Dogfish, Allen team up
Speaking of Milton, Dogfish Head, the “Official Brewery of Record Store Day,” is collaborating with Milton native and country music star, Jimmie Allen, on a limited-edition vinyl release and music video.
Dropping on Saturday’s Record Store Day, an annual celebration of independently owned record stores, the album features three of Mr. Allen’s hits and a new song co-authored by Dogfish Head founder and brewer, Sam Calagione.
Named for the brewery’s oat milk-centric hazy India pale ale, both the record and its leading track are titled “Hazy-O!”
“Each year for Record Store Day, we collaborate with a different musical artist, but this is the first time we’ve partnered with someone in the country music realm,” said Mr. Calagione in a prepared statement.
“Jimmie’s connection to Delaware — he grew up just a mile from our brewery in Milton — made this collaboration feel like kismet and effortless. Not to mention, he (like all of us at Dogfish Head) is a beer geek with a music problem. Having the opportunity to personally create a song with Jimmie was a thrill for me and we are super proud of the results.”
“Hazy-O!” is a four-track vinyl with the tunes “Hazy-O!” “Happy Hour,” “Slower Lower” and “Good Times Roll.” “Happy Hour” and “Slower Lower” were originally part of his “Slower Lower Sessions” in 2018, while “Good Times Roll” is featured on his critically acclaimed EP “Bettie James,” released in July 2020.
“It’s always cool working with Dogfish Head, it’s another chapter in a relationship we’ve built,” said Mr. Allen in a statement. “Looking forward to people hearing the record and seeing the music video.”
Dogfish Head will continue the Record Store Day celebration Sunday, with a plethora of music-centric events at its coastal Delaware properties.
From noon to 1:30 p.m., the Milton Tasting Room & Kitchen will have giveaways, music by DJ 45, a pop-up record shop from Extendedplay by Gidget’s Gadgets Retro Emporium and the release of Negronia, a farmhouse ale aged in Dogfish Head Distilling Co.’s Mellowdious Gin barrels and infused with botanicals.
From 3-5 p.m., guests visiting Brewings & Eats in Rehoboth Beach can also expect giveaways and a pop-up record shop from Extendedplay, as well as music by DJ Droid and the release of Normless Uniformity, an English-style beer with herbs and spices.
For more information, visit here.
The Firefly Music Festival made some news this week by revealing the schedule of artists for the event, set for Sept. 23-26 at The Woodlands of Dover and by announcing that a limited amount of single-day tickets will go on sale Tuesday at 10 a.m. on the Firefly website
Weekend passes are sold out.
Thursday night’s headliner is hit singer/songwriter Billie Eilish, making her undeniably the biggest name Firefly has had on a Thursday night.
Thursday also includes the likes of Marc Rebillet and Phoebe Bridgers.
Friday night will be highlighted by the fourth Firefly appearance by The Killers, along with Cage the Elephant and rapper Wiz Khalifa.
Tame Impala headlines Saturday night with Roddy Ricch, Diplo and Glass Animals.
Sunday night, Lizzo will wrap the festival up with a headlining set, along with Megan Thee Stallion and Machine Gun Kelly.
Times have not yet been announced. The full lineup can be found on the Firefly website.
New this weekend in theaters is the animated “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway” and the Lin-Manuel Miranda musical “In the Heights.”