Miriam Zinter, 55
The juggling act of being a mortgage officer and a stand-up comedian
By Christine Green
Where did you grow up?
I’ve been an Upstate New Yorker all my life. First Syracuse then Rochester. I even went to school at SUNY Geneseo, Pratt and then RIT. My mother is from Haiti — so, not counting Canada — it was the first place I traveled to out of the country. I love to travel and have been to Ireland, Jamaica, Malaysia, France, Bermuda, Mexico, Germany, Austria, Switzerland as well as over the eastern seaboard of the United States, Alaska, and Hawaii. I graduated from Fairport High School in 1981.
You have worked for many years in the housing/housing lending world. What is your favorite part of your job and why?
I love seeing an old abandoned building or a trash strewn vacant lot and see that someone noticed the potential in the site and invested time, money, and effort in it to make it become something wonderful. I love going to the project when it’s complete and seeing the people who live there enjoy the space. Improving a community without gentrifying it is an absolute joy.
How did you get into stand-up comedy?
I remember being in a room full of women at college and describing how hard it was to walk to class in the winter. I got the whole room laughing and it felt great to make people laugh. Ever since then I’ve been interested in comedy. Then I took a comedy course at Writers & Books and started doing some open mics. I signed up for the Funniest Person in Rochester in 2015 and did a set. Comics have family and friends come to the open mics and vote on who they want to move forward. The judges also have the ability to vote people through, and it’s called the “Wild Card.” The night I was scheduled to perform, I had a final exam in statistics for my MBA. I chose to take my final and gave up my spot.
What is the “Comedy Through the Ages” show was all about?
There are seven comedians. We perform in order of age with the youngest going first. Each member performs a seven-minute set. I try to make mine about being in my 50s, married, with kids, aging parents, menopause, trying to keep in shape, etc. Phyllis Reed is our leader and is in her 80s. She does hers about the AARP yoga. Everyone brings a different perspective.
What is the best part of doing a comedy show or stand-up gig?
The best part is when people laugh. There’s nothing worse than a quiet room. After some of my shows, women come up to me and tell me it was nice to laugh about caring for aging parents. I like to make things funny that typically aren’t any fun at all.
Do you practice your jokes/comedy at home with your spouse and family?
No! My family is always surprised that people laugh at what I have to say. I like to work with other comics to make my stand-up better which is why Writers & Books and the Fringe Festival is so important. Other comics really help me work through my routines and hone them.
Photo: Miriam Zinter is a mortgage officer with nonprofit lender, The Community Preservation Corporation (CPC). She is also a stand-up comedian. Zinter lives in Brighton with her family and her dog Mr. Tippy. Photo courtesy of John Schlia Photography.