What's a big Siouxland draw for comedian Lori Callahan? The pizza.
"It's been a while since I've performed in Sioux City," she acknowledged. "But I can't wait to perform there and have some of my favorite pizza."
Callahan, who has toured with Paula Poundstone, Jeff Foxworthy and Richard Belzer, will present four shows Nov. 2-3 at El Fredo Pizza.
Reflecting back over her longevity as a stand-up comedian, Callahan was not a "class clown" growing up.
"I was on student council. I tutored kids," she said. "What I would do is get other kids in trouble by saying things under my breath. Being involved in activities, I had to be on the down-low, because I was somewhat high profile."
Despite her high level of involvement in activities, including being named Winter Sports Queen and Miss Colorado United Teenager, Callahan initially had issues with getting up in front of groups.
"When I was going to give me speech for the Miss Colorado United Teenager pageant in 1976, I walked out there, saw the cameras, the 4,000 people -- the Platters were there -- and I said, 'Ladies and Gentlemen: I'm speechless!' and walked off the stage. I could see my mom and her best friend sinking in their seats," she recalled.
Somehow Callahan found her groove.
"In 1986, I told my mom I was going to enter a radio comedy contest and she said, 'Hell, no, you aren't! Don't you remember what happened in Washington, D.C.? I can't bear it if that would happen again.' But, to her credit, she reassured me and said she would support me if that's what I wanted to do," she said. "So I entered and was chosen to do three minutes. I was so scared, and somebody heckled me. And my mom stood up and said to that person, "That's my kid there for the first time and I will have you shut up!' I said to the crowd, 'That's my mom! The bouncer!" I won. I won $100 for that."
That was the defining moment for Callahan who continued to hone her stand-up routines.
"But I used to throw up before shows, I was so anxious," she confessed. "Today, I'm still anxious, but more so, I look forward to having fun with the crowd."
Callahan keeps her humor "clean," focusing on life-situations.
"I had shoulder surgery on Sept. 26 and my best friend, a physician's assistant, came over for brunch, which I made entirely with one hand and I told her the surgical site felt funny," she said. "She told me my stitches, from the inside out, were rejecting my body. Who does this happen to? And when I was talking to my boyfriend on the phone the other night, he fell asleep for about two minutes. I told him for sure that was going in my act."
However, life hasn't always been so comedic for Callahan.
"I lost my husband last year and was self-medicating until I decided comedy and my health were more important," she said.
Callahan's talents have led her to featured TV appearances on Showtime, Comedy Central and she won an Emmy Award for her work with ESPN's the "Lighter Side of Sports." And much like doctors in social situations, Callahan admitted, when people find out what she does for a living, they'll ask her to tell a joke.
"Whenever they ask me to say something funny," she said, "I just say, 'No money, no funny.'"