PROVIDENCE – The comedian and actress Alyssa Limperis is from Seekonk, right outside of Rhode Island. But she went to La Salle Academy, and her mom’s from Cranston, and when she was doing a show in Providence one time, someone walked up to her afterward and said the following:
“Hi, how are ya. You don’t know me. I’m ya cousin.”
Limperis relays that anecdote in her solo show, “No Bad Days,” which premiered on the streaming service Peacock in August. And it’s a true story, she said in an interview Tuesday, one of the little bits of Little Rhody sprinkled throughout the hour-long special.
So, yeah, Limperis is pretty Rhode Island, even though she’s now based in Los Angeles. You might also know her from her viral “mom videos” inspired by her Crasntonian mom, Linda, or from her work in commercials, or her role on Showtime’s “Flatbush Misdemeanors.” “No Bad Days,” directed by Lance Bangs, is an hour-long comedy special that mixes jokes – about Rhode Island, about her Greek/Italian heritage, about navigating young adulthood – with reflections on losing her father, Jim, to glioblastoma in 2015.
Her solo show is in keeping with her late father’s ethos, down to the title of the show: Even through the difficulties of brain cancer and the pain of loss, you can still dance and laugh.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
You started doing this show three months after your father’s death. But the performance we’re seeing on Peacock was your last. What’s it been like to let go of that?
The taping, I have never been more emotional. That day was so crazy emotional. I want to say, significantly more emotional than the day of his funeral. Talk about Rhode Island, I got so emotional in the car ride over, I called my (track) coach, Coach (Dave) Wright at La Salle, just to thank him for being such a great influence on my life. I felt overwhelmed with gratitude about my childhood and my life, and I knew that by ending this show, I was stepping out into adulthood. Age-wise, I’ve been an adult for a while, but it’s just the feeling that, it’s my life I’m living now, versus hanging onto my parents’ life or the life I lived when both my parents were alive. And I guess that comes with both sadness and optimism of a fresh start.
It seems like the show has helped you process your grief. You talked about having panic attacks after your dad’s funeral. This show feels like you’re dealing with it in a more productive way.
I did have my first panic attack after the funeral. Probably just absolutely no way to process anything, an overwhelmed feeling. Just looking at those two different experiences – my body didn’t shut down, I didn’t have a panic attack, I wasn’t freaking out the day of the show. It was just more emotion and tears.
And a big Zumba number at the end.
And a big Zumba number at the end. Which was always a very important element of the show – we can go through this big challenging thing, but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to dance to the end of it, because that’s what my dad would do.
There’s also some good Rhode Island content in your special. You joke about how you could send a package to Paulie, and the delivery guy would just need to ask, Big Paulie or Crazy Paulie? A lot of people have been responding with their own only-in-Rhode Island anecdotes. Do you have a favorite?
Oh yeah, I love them so much. I posted a little montage. “I mailed a postcard to a friend once as a test and just put ‘Meg – Block Island’ and it made it into her PO box.” I love that one. “If you drive anywhere in Rhode Island that’s over 20 minutes, you need to pack a lunch.”
That is true.
Yeah. The day my dad died, the minute my dad died, my entire Rhode Island family and cousins and second cousins were at the door. It’s both the vibe and the size of Rhode Island. It’s possible for them to get over that quickly because of the size, because it doesn’t take that long, but also because we’re all family, we go through this, we all go through it together. There’s a real sense of community in Rhode Island that you even see in the comments section of that video. It’s nice. There’s a really nice sense of community and home in the state.
Speaking of Rhode Island and family. How is Linda doing these days?
Linda’s doing great. She couldn’t be in the front row (of my special) because she came to my show so many times she started mouthing the words. I couldn’t have her too close because I would be distracted. I had a viewing party at this bar in LA and my mom flew in for it and my friends were sitting next to her, and they were like, “She filmed the whole thing.” She filmed the filmed thing. It’s already filmed. It’s on Peacock and she was there with her camera, filming the whole thing. Yeah, she’s doing great. She’s a great support.
You’ve done a lot of commercial work lately. You did a Hertz ad with Tom Brady. How jealous did that make all your Rhode Island friends? Crazy Paulie must have been going nuts.
Absolutely. Once I worked with Tom Brady, it was like, I don’t have to do anything else. I did it. My family will never be more proud of anything else. He was really fantastic. My dad was such an obviously big fan of him. To meet him and for him to be so excellent made me feel nice. Oh, Dad, you had a good hero, because this guy’s great.
So what’s next for you?
I’m in the show “Flatbush Misdemeanors” on Showtime. I really love acting. I have a TV show in development right now and a movie I’ve written with a friend who’s from Massachusetts, May Wilkerson, in development now. I really liked being executive producer on this project, meaning I get to have a lot of say in the decision making. I’m excited to keep doing things like that. ... Seeing all this love for Rhode Island, and this connection, I’m like, we’ve got to make a Rhode Island movie. This first movie isn’t one, but for the next one, we’ve got to make a local Rhode Island movie. Because there’s certainly an appetite for Rhode Island comedy and content.
Anything else people should know?
This is probably a hat on a hat, but I swear to God, I was walking in New York after the taping but before the special was out with my friend Justin Cappa, who helped a lot on the special. And this guy comes up to me and says, “You probably don’t know me, but I’m your cousin.” And me and Justin thought he was quoting the special. But he wasn’t. He just was also my cousin.