Comedian Whitney Cummings didn't spend much time down the shore during her college days at the University of Pennsylvania.
The Washingon, D.C., native says she was too busy trying to make ends meet through modeling and stand-up gigs to get to the beach.
Today, Cummings is even busier, as the creative force behind two sitcoms - she stars in NBC's "Whitney," for which she also serves as executive producer and writer, and is the co-creator and executive consultant on CBS' "2 Broke Girls."
But with the shows on hiatus - and the fate of "Whitney" still to be determined by NBC - the Los Angeles-based Cummings is finally getting to Atlantic City. She's appearing Friday, May 11, at the Tropicana Casino Resort.
Ahead of her show, Cummings talks about her need to get back on stage; mining her life for sitcom moments; and why her boyfriend's ears will be burning during her act.
Q: What's it been like to run two big network shows at once?
A: It's definitely surreal. I feel like I did a lot of LSD - is this just a flashback?
Q: It must be tough not knowing whether NBC will bring back "Whitney." When will you learn its fate?
A: We will find out May 14 or something, but I'm feeling good. I have so much gratitude, it's hard to find anything negative about any of it.
I'm just psyched to have a hiatus, so I can get back to stand up.
Q: You could just stick to your TV jobs. Why bother doing stand up now?
A: That's what grounds you, that's what keeps you honest, that's what keeps you inspired and keeps you creative.
When the show was going on, I didn't have time to do stand up. I felt like I was kind of lost. I can't wait to get back on stage. I need to create and connect with people and complain.
Q: So stand up is a way to recharge?
A: When you're a stand up, it's always your safe place. I'm not saying it's healthy, but when you have that inherent need, and you stop doing that, it's almost like you get congested. There's so much to say and so much to yell about.
At this stage of my life, I feel compelled to share with people. Your fans are like your friends. I feel like I have a girlfriend I need to catch up with.
Q: How does your stand up influence what ends up on your TV shows?
A: So much of the process, so much of the sitcom this year is stuff I talked about on stage, and it's proven to be funny. I'm a big believer in testing things, and making sure they work before exporting it out to America.
Q: What material are you testing out this time around?
A: I pretty much stick to the area of sex and relationships - that's where I get inspired. I'm at a different phase in my life. I'm in a relationship, I'm no longer a slut out there on the front lines.
I live with a guy, and I've never done that before. I have a lot of questions, and I'm really pissed off, and I've grown a lot in the past year. I still have the same point of view, I'm still the same person, but I'm just in a different phase.
Q: How does your boyfriend feel about being fodder for your act?
A: He hates me, he completely hates me.
Actually, I'm lucky he has such a great sense of humor and is so awesome and supportive.
But he doesn't really come to my shows. If he knew what I said about him, he probably would be so pissed.
Turning up the (comedy) heat
The key to Whitney Cummings getting the attention of TV networks was her 2009 appearance on Comedy Central's roast of Joan Rivers, right, in which she ruthlessly skewered the guest of honor and a panel of comedy veterans, including Carl Reiner, Gilbert Gottfried and Mario Cantone.
Cummings says it's no secret why she was able to hold her own at the barb-laden event.
"Deep down, I'm just a terrible person," she quips.
In reality, Cummings sees the roast as an extension of the insults comics trade offstage on a regular basis.
"The roasts are just a televised version of what me and my friends do every night," she says. "That's how comics talk to each other. In the roast, I was in a dress and had makeup on, but that's how we treat each other all the time. I had a lot of practice - that's always how we act."
It also helped that no one really knew Cummings at the time, making the other comics unlikely to strike back.
"The expectations were so low, and I worked really hard. I love jokes. I was a writer on the roast for two years before I was a performer, so I knew how to do it.
"I think if I did it now, it would be a different story. I think being unsuccessful was a big advantage. I could go harder at people and be meaner."