From the first moment, Vanessa Hollingshead hit the stage, waiting well over 4 hours at an “Open Mic” to do 5 minutes of comedy…..she knew she was “home.” She would temp all over the city during the day as a word-processor and be in the clubs at night to perform. She often slept in the bathrooms at work, or on her lunch hour. Vanessa never looked back. It paid off. After two years, she was able to make a living being a working comic.
She often jokes about real things. As a child, she spent a year at Millbrook Mansion with her father, Michael Hollingshead, who introduced Timothy Leary and Sir Paul McCartney to LSD. “I don’t have childhood memories, I have flashbacks.” At five years old she took LSD by accident.
She was in and out of different homes and schools. Her mom was smoking pot and taking amphetamines, which she, of course, gave to Vanessa to help clean the apartment. She lived briefly with her dad in Boston, England, then in Scotland. By 18 she was back in NYC and got a scholarship to study at the Lee Strasberg Theatrical Institute. Vanessa was always like a sponge and could meet anyone once and impersonate them. She found humor in daily life and that was what created her angst on stage as a comic. She divides her time doing stand up, acting, playwriting, painting, and playing keyboards and Karaoke.
Vanessa was recently on VH1’s Lords of the Revolution, has had her own Comedy Central Presents, has taped her second DVD at Gotham, “American Anglomaniac” and is taping her third DVD, “Drunk” at Stand Up New York, October 17th. She was one of the first comics to go out to the Middle East when the war started. She has performed for Comedy Central in Australia, as well as numerous shows in the UK and Amsterdam, she also has had critical acclaim with her one-woman show “Flashback”, and just complete her second one person show, called “The Hold”.
When not working, twittering, face-booking, she is active in helping people that have had serious drug/alcohol problems and performs in prisons and institutions, and for the VA Hospitals in the NY Area. Her husband Lucien Hold passed away from complications due to Scleroderma, and she is active with that organization.