Q. Mark Twain once said that the secret source of humor is not joy but sorrow.
A. True, in my case. Humor was a coping skill, I guess you could say. A way of responding to the intense agony of my family. Performing was a way of being O.K. in a world that largely disgusted me. A friend once told me, and it's true, that one foot onto the stage and you're suspended in another world, a world you control totally.
Q. Why the need to escape?
A. I grew up Jewish in Salt Lake City, a very conservative Mormon place,...