How I Get It Done: Comedian, Actor, and Co-host of The Real, Loni Love

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Photo: Rebecca Clarke

Loni Love is one of the hosts of talk show The Real, a stand-up comic, and a writer; she’s appeared in dozens of movies and TV shows. She worked as an engineer for the first half of her career, though, before she decided to become an entertainer. Now she films her talk show during the week and performs stand-up on the weekends. She just came off a 60-day detox that she says helped her not feel tired all the time, and she has one great trick for people who travel a lot. Here’s how she gets it all done.

On a typical day in the life of a comedian-meets-talk-show-host-meets-all-around-entertainer:
I’m a talk-show host and I’m also a stand-up comedian, and we’re currently in sweeps for my show The Real, so my day started at about 4 a.m. I woke up, made sure there was nothing that had happened overnight that I could mention on the show, and then I had to pack because I was catching a red-eye that night and needed to have everything ready to go. At six o’clock I took my shower and got ready to go to the studio, which is about an hour away.

We’re taping three shows in a day, and throughout, I’m conducting other business. I have a late-night pilot that I’m working on. We have an hour break, and I work on that kind of stuff then, like taking phone calls when I need to. The third show that day was running late and my flight was at 9 p.m.; I was stressing. I was running everybody through the segments so I could make this flight. I got out at 6:30, and went from Burbank to LAX, and I just barely made my flight.

I was going to Baltimore to talk to the affiliate because of sweeps. When I got there, I went straight from the airport to the station: I did three on-air interviews, I did radio. Everything that I need to do to help promote The Real, I do. But I had a flight at two to go to Boston because I had four stand-up shows. I got to Boston around five o’clock. At this point, I’d been up for 24 hours, so I finally got to sleep on Thursday night. I woke up at 5 a.m. to do press for the Boston stand-up shows, to do radio, and I was still taking phone calls during the day for my show, my late-night pitch, and all this kind of stuff, and then Friday night I finally got to do the shows.

My first show was at seven and my next show was at nine, and I did great in both of them. I got to my hotel room, I slept, I did the same thing again on Saturday. I woke up on Sunday at 4 a.m. and caught a flight back to LAX at 6 a.m.

On the trick she uses to get her travel routine down to a science:
I have three different identical toiletry bags, and I rotate them so I don’t have to think about it when I’m packing. They are all pre-packed and ready to go. I have a standard outfit for my stand-up show, so when I pack to go on the road, it’s easy. I know what I’m going to wear. I also have three premade makeup bags that I rotate in and out. All of it helps me get my bags packed faster.

On how she can survive on so little sleep:
I’ve totally gotten off caffeine, but what I do if I need something to wake me up is drink a tea of some kind. Sometimes I’ll try to do a smoothie, or some almonds, just so I’ve got some natural sugars to get me going.

If I know that I am going to get sleep at certain times, I can get through those long days if I have to. When I went to Baltimore, I made sure that I slept on the plane because I didn’t want to get there and say something crazy to the general manager. If I can get a good three hours in before I have an event, I’m good — I take naps here and there, and make sure to catch up on the weekend.

On why she puts so much value on planning:
This is what I’ve always wanted to do, so I have learned to deal with having a lot of things to do all at once. Planning is really so important. I don’t let it stress me out. I do have a great management team and a great PR team, and they keep my calendars for me when stuff comes in so I don’t have to worry about it. I have people to help me with certain things so I can focus on the creativity.

I keep what I need minimal: If I can’t handle it, I just don’t do it. People always want me to go to red-carpet events, and if I can go, fine. If I feel like it’s going to be too much, I’ve learned to say no. That is what keeps me from getting anxiety.

On how she integrates her talk-show-host life with her stand-up life:
Some of the jokes that I do on the television show, I can use in the stand-up show. It works out in my favor. I can make it a little bit spicier, so it’s not so daytime-friendly. Getting up in the morning and reading the news really helps me to come up with fresh material. I always have some type of material prepared, obviously, because I have my old-faithful jokes — but to keep it fresh for me and fun for the crowd, I like to try out new stuff, jokes that are relevant.

On how she likes to spend the little downtime she has:
The holidays are coming up. In the industry, I love the holidays because everybody takes off. Come December 15, we’re done with those last shows and we get two weeks away from work. I go check in on my family. Last year, I went to Europe. I do get some time where I just totally veg out and chill out. I catch up on movies, catch up on the shows I haven’t seen.

On what she did when she got “tired of feeling tired” all the time:
I was tired of feeling tired. You use the excuse “It’s because I’m traveling a lot,” but I had two months where I hadn’t started filming The Real yet and I wanted to do something different. I gave myself one weekend to try doing a detox. That one weekend turned into 60 days.

No alcohol, no caffeine — it was hard. I lost 15 pounds, but it wasn’t even about the weight loss; it was more about the energy. I had been on the road for 15 years. Comics eat bad food. We drink every weekend. When people saw me on the show that week, they were like, “Your skin is different.” I felt different.

For exercise, I get to the studio a little earlier and I’ll do a 15-minute walk in the morning all around the studio. When I’m staying in a hotel room, I make myself at least go to the gym. I don’t do more than 45 minutes, but I do incorporate it. I also started to do a weekly body massage — that has helped me a lot. I always tell people to do the exercise you love: If exercising is going to stress you out, it ain’t gonna help you.

On the biggest challenge she has faced in her career:
The most challenging thing for me is letting people know that I’m happy. People look at me and say, “You’re not married, you don’t have children,” and I have to tell them that that was my choice. For some women, that’s what they wanna do in life: They want to be a devoted mother and wife. I’m a devoted auntie and entertainer. Sometimes it’s challenging because people don’t believe me, and I have to tell them, no, I’m fine. I’m okay. It’s not the end of the world because every woman is not married. That doesn’t define every woman. I enjoy children and I’m not anti-marriage. When I was in my 20s, I decided what I wanted to do with my life and that’s what I’m doing. In your 20s, decide what you want to do. If you want to get married, work on that. If you want to have children, work on that. That’s the hardest thing: convincing people that I’m okay. I’m happy with me.

I have an engineering degree, so for eight years, I was an engineer. It was a natural progression for me because my mom taught me to get my education, to get a job, and to get a husband. But I realized that I wasn’t really happy. It was coming close to the point where I was going to be getting married, and that’s when I decided to change what I do. I knew that being a female comic was a hard role. It’s not that women aren’t funny, you just don’t see a lot of women out there because it takes so much to survive being a female comic. If you have a kid, you can’t be on the road every weekend with your kid. I processed all that and I made that choice and I’m happy.

On the thing she’s proudest of in her work:
The biggest triumph for me is getting to work on this TV show that inspires and impacts so many women. We gave away a car to a woman who needed a car. We help women that are in need, single mothers. To me, that is where I’m seeing a little bit of payoff. For me to be raised in the projects then to be able to be in the White House interviewing the president, that’s the payoff.