Interview: Comedian Peggy O'Leary, Delco Queen


Peggy O'Leary might be best known as the Manhattan-based comedian whose live drinking game show, Hard, Lonely & Vicious, has her playing messy host to NYC’s raw, boozy, stand-up comics. However, the blunt O’Leary is a native of Delaware County – a blue collar working class suburb of Philadelphia – that Comedy Central fans are getting to know courtesy of her old friends in Delco Proper. For our interview, O'Leary (a regular at the New York Comedy Festival, the stages of the Upright Citizens Brigade and as an opening act for SNL's Michael Che) talks about taking her liquor-laced act on the road and explains the allure of the mysterious Delco region.

A.D. Amorosi: Other than ‘practice’ and ‘2-95,’ how did you get from Delco to Manhattan stages so rapidly? Or is there a dramatic tale of heartbreak to tell?
Peggy O'Leary: If it’s directions to NYC you are looking for, I go Walt Whitman [Bridge]to Bellmawr, NJ to get on the Turnpike. If it is a comedy career, I started doing stand up in Queens, New York at a place called The Creek & The Cave nine years ago. But, before that, I was in a sketch comedy group with guys from my college called Bleak! Comedy. I started performing in the Philly area right away because all the local comics were great and welcoming. Now that I’m staying local for a while, I love the Philly comedy scene. Between Helium, Punch Line and all the great alt shows, you can perform every night. And there’s no better crowd than a Philly crowd. They are never offended.

A.D.: Between you and the Delco Proper guys from Comedy Central, that entire area of Delaware County has a hipness to it. What was so great about growing up Delco?
Peggy: First off, love the Delco Proper guys.  Tommy [Pope] and I grew up down the street from each other and he went to Bonner and St. Charles with my brother-in-law, B.J. Fun fact: the funeral home where they shot the first episode was mine. There is something so authentic and real about Delco and its citizens. I love that all the women are aggressive and tough. Even non-Catholics ask you which parish you’re from, I’m a Cross girl, Cross is Boss. People never really leave, and even when we do, we find ourselves being called back to the smoky dive bars and Wawa. I may never have had sushi until I moved to NYC, but I def learned how to tap a keg in the woods better than anyone I met in the Big Apple. We also have the funniest accent in the state.

A.D.: I didn’t grow up inside of a funeral home, but as a child my best friend's family had a funeral home where we played with the coffins. What was your experience like and what was the funniest aspect of that?
Peggy: My earliest childhood memory is watching my mom do the make up for our funerals and for McConaghy’s in Ardmore. Their funeral home was super fancy to me, so I would wander the halls and stair cases pretending I was a famous old silent movie actress. Sunset Boulevard was my favorite movie when I was younger.

A.D.: What are the greatest highs and lows of being an Eagles fan for most of your life? Or should I say all of your life?
Peggy: I am Eagles, ride or die. There hasn’t been, and will never be, a team that I’m more in love with. Honestly, I just want to be a comic famous enough to tour with them. I want to marry Fletcher Cox on the fifty yard line, with Dougie P. [Pederson] officiating it. Wait, what was the question? Oh right, one of the worst experiences as a fan was last year Eagles vs. Giants game at MetLife. We lost, and so many jerk Giant fans kept yelling and taking my hat off my head on the train back to Manhattan. I cried. My best friend was with me. She isn’t a big fan and she couldn’t understand why I was so upset and engaging with them. In retrospect, she was right and I was probably just drunk.

A.D.: What did you do for the Super Bowl win?
Peggy: I watched the game with my oldest sister Megan at her friend’s basement bar. It was the best. All the men cried. The next day, I celebrated at Chickie's & Pete's in South Philly with my friends. It was the best two days of my life. I’m still riding that high.

A.D.: With Hard, Lonely & Vicious, you entice comics and audience members to play a drinking game with you. How much liquor do you encourage your comedians to imbibe?
Peggy: To be honest, I used to run this show when I was sober, so it’s more for the audience to get loose and ready to laugh. Comics can drink as much or as little as they want. Now that I drink, by the end of the night, I am usually the drunkest and silliest, so it’s more of a show to see how drunk can the host get without ruining her own show.

A.D.: What is weirdest story to come out of the NYC event?
Peggy: I ran the show in NYC for five years, so I’ve had some of the funniest and craziest comics. However, my favorite story was when Seth Herzog, who works at The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, came on and played Truth or Dare with myself and my co-host Lucas Connolly. It was the first time we did that game and it was wild, he had to moon the audience and I kissed his butt cheek. We were all dying laughing and having so much fun, he didn’t even do any stand-up. We just played the game for twenty minutes.

A.D.: Who were your favorite comedians growing up – and why – and how do you believe they inspired the performance style you have now?
Peggy: I was a huge SNL fan, so my favorite comics when I was little were Molly Shannon, Chris Farley and Delco’s own Cheri Oteri. None of them are stand-ups, so it’s hard to say if they directly inspired my performance. They all seem so warm and goofy you just wanna be friends with them, which I would say is my style of comedy. I just want to be everyone’s best friend by the end of the show. Some comics pride themselves on being smarter and cooler than the audience. I am not one of them.

Peggy O'Leary’s Hard, Lonely & Vicious is Wednesday, April 18 at 8 PM at Helium Comedy Club Philadelphia, 2031 Sansom Street. For more info visit

Photo by Mindy Tucker

Posted on Wednesday, April 18, 2018