Mini Q&A with Naomi Ekperigin

 

Favorite response to a heckler or troll?

I have the talking stick, sir!

 

When you were coming up in comedy, what helped you stick with it?

The small victories, the 5- and 6-minute sets where I got laughs. Or when the crowd wasn’t so into it, but one or two people would approach me afterwards and say, “you were so funny!” or “I loved such-and-such joke.” It let me know I was connecting with someone, even if it was just a couple of people.

 

On your deathbed, what transcendent advice would you croak at a young comedian?

Don’t date any fellow stand ups in your early years. It’ll distract you from the work and add more drama/anxiety to what’s already a tough job to pursue.

 

What’s your first impulse when someone says “women aren’t funny”?

Ugh, go away.

 

Worst gig?

A bar in New Orleans where the five locals in attendance were just there to drink, not see comedy. Me and the other comics had to really fight to win their laughs.

 

How has being funny helped you in your offstage life, either recently or when you were younger?

Humor was crucial to me fitting in at my predominantly white, wealthy private school. It’s where I learned to find the common ground among disparate groups and use jokes to make connections. Now it helps me navigate the business. Making contacts can be easier when you have humor to grease the wheels.

 

What advice do you have for how to level up from open mics + bringers to actual SPOT-spots?

I think hosting your own show can help you get your name out there among fellow comics. Not only do you provide yourself with a weekly or monthly venue for working out material, you also put yourself in the position to trade spots with other comics. I also think that bringer shows should be used sparingly, only when you have a great set you want to have filmed in a nice setting, or if there really is going to be powerful industry in the crowd (and again, you know the set you’ll do is killer). It can be so exciting to perform in a club, but to go up there in front of that audience when you’ve barely strung a set together does yourself a disservice and doesn’t gain you any favor in the eyes of the club booker or show producer.

 

Was there one person who inspired you to become a comedian?

No, no one in particular. I’ve always loved Chris Rock, but it never occurred to me that I could do what “the people on the TV” were doing. It wasn’t until I tried it in college (a pretty easy space) that I thought I might be able to do standup.

 

Feelings about the word “comedienne”?

It’s very antiquated. Am I Shirley Temple?

 


naomiekperigin.weebly.com

Twitter @blacktress

Instagram @blacktresscomedy

Naomi Ekperigin is a New York City-based actor, stand-up comedian and writer who has appeared on VH1, MTV, and FX‘s “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell” and been published in TheHairpin.com, The Huffington Post and VanityFair.com. Most recently Naomi worked as a staff writer on season 3 of Comedy Central’s hit show“Broad City” and “Difficult People,” starring Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner.  In 2013, she was listed as one of “7 Reasons Why SNL Should Hire a Black Woman” on Buzzfeed.com and one of “8 Black Comediennes Who are Ready for SNL” by Essence Magazine.

 

Photo Credit: Ben Esner

 

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Mini Q&A with El Sanchez

 

Favorite response to a heckler or troll?

“I’m sorry, you’re right, I interrupted you. Go on?”

 

When you were coming up in comedy, what helped you stick with it?

I want to say determination, love of the craft or a strong work ethic, but honestly it’s just my competitive nature. I know the odds are against a fat, queer, gender non-binary, POC to be on late night TV. I’m stubborn. I want to beat those odds.

 

On your deathbed, what transcendent advice would you croak at a young comedian?

Take the mic out of the mic stand.

 

What’s your first impulse when someone says “women aren’t funny”?

To stop talking to that person.

 

Worst gig?

I once drove 30 minutes out of town with a friend to do 15 minutes at a hookah lounge to 8 bored 18 year olds. The “stage” was a milk crate you stood on in the middle of the room while holding a microphone attached to a tiny speaker. A DJ played loud hip-hop the whole time so you had to shout over the music. I found out at the end of the night that our payment was free strawberry hookah to smoke and a beer from the bar across the street. I learned at that point you don’t have to say yes to every gig.

 

Favorite response to “What’s it like to be a woman in comedy?”

I identified as a woman for the first six years of my comedy career. My response to that question would be: basically what it’s like to be a comedian, a roller coaster of frustration and elation with the expected amount of sexual harassment and underestimation.

 

How has being funny helped you in your offstage life, either recently or when you were younger?

I used to be kind of shy and introverted and very insecure. I am still insecure, but now I’m real outspoken and extroverted about it.

 

Best comedy advice you ever got?

“The only person you are competing against is yourself.”

 

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

“Don’t do any jokes about your p***y”

 

What advice do you have for how to level up from open mics + bringers to actual SPOT-spots?

Be undeniably funny at as many mics as you can. Producers will take notice and you’ll get booked.

 

Single word that always cracks you up?

Butt.

 

Was there one person who inspired you to become a comedian? If so, who, why, how?

Cassandra Peterson aka Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. I loved watching Movie Macabre and her straight-to-video hosted horror movies as a kid. I rented Elvira, Mistress of the Dark for every Halloween party I had. Cassandra was in the Groundlings and is VERY underrated as a comedian. I LOVE her sense of humor. It’s a perfect mix of self-awareness, self-deprecation, confidence, goofiness, and puns.  She knew she was a sex symbol, but you felt like she was in total control of it. I loved that confidence and don’t f**ck with me attitude.  I’m a legit card-holding member of her fan club.

 

Feelings about the word “comedienne”?

UGH.

 


A Seattle-based comedian, writer and comic book reader, El Sanchez has been performing all over the country since 2010. Their conversationally cynical, yet upbeat comedic style weaves together a unique mix of embarrassing personal stories, nerdy obsessions, social politics and possible overshares, making light of their own instances of social incompetence while also skewering oppressive social norms. They have been called “fearless” by City Arts Magazine, “a grumpy nugget of delight,” by writer/activist Lindy West, “a local favorite,” by Seattle alt weekly The Stranger and “a brilliant new voice everyone should know,” by comedian Hari Kondabolu. Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Kimya Dawson (The Moldy Peaches, Juno) has cited Sanchez as her ‘favorite underground Northwest comedian’ while W. Kamau Bell, comedian and host of CNN’s United Shades of America, once said, “El Sanchez is the truth.”

www.eliciasanchez.com

Twitter @el_sanchovilla

Instagram @elsanchovilla

 

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5 times online comedy instruction was sexist

 

There are lots of comedy resources online: how to be funnier, how to write a joke, how to effectively use the rule of three (SEE HOW I DID THAT?) That’s great.

Less great: In many instances, you are not so much the target customer as…the target of the joke. Like, the sample jokes they are presenting and analyzing—and I don’t mean “analyzing” in a bell hooks way—are straight up garden-variety dumb and sexist.

Whatever, brah. It’s not worth my comedy outrage. (And I’m not here to slam the particular instructors below; they’re just the ones I happened across, and their basic comedy guidance is sound.) For me the most telling thing is the obvious assumption that ONLY OTHER DUDES are reading/watching, which is not only THE WHOLE ENTIRE PROBLEM, but also questionable customer acquisition strategy.

See what I mean…

  1. To explain basic joke structure, this guy says: “Consider this joke from Jimmy Carr: My girlfriend said she wanted me to tease her. I said “alright, fatty”. Carr creates an assumption (that his girlfriend wants to be teased playfully) then subverts it (by teasing her maliciously.) It’s a classic setup/punch joke; the first sentence (setup) leads us in one direction, the next sentence (punch) reframes the setup revealing an unexpected twist.”
  2. Of ALL THE JOKES in the world that he could possibly deconstruct, this guy picks a blonde joke.
  3. Describing the vital comedy tool of surprise, this guy offers this example: “I woke up in the hotel this morning and the housekeeper was banging on the door, just banging. Finally, I had to get up and let her out.” In a later joke, he calls his ex a “chick,” which is not altogether surprising.
  4. This guy teaches the rule of threes with a dose of hacky transphobia: “Expected Trait/Expected Trait/Unexpected Trait (She was pretty, she was shapely, she was a man).”
  5. This guy, who is an adult, refers to the women he dates as “girls.”
  6. Same guy, explaining the logic of a Seinfeld joke, says, “You’d think more women wouldn’t wax their legs, but since they need to in order to look attractive to men, they do it anyway.”
  7. Comedy articles and lectures are full of examples. Almost every single sample joke? Written by a dude. Almost every single example of a comedian with a particular style? A dude. Often they’re great jokes/comics! But come on. Google harder.

 

Find an example like the above? Tweet it at @goldcmdy!

 

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OMG Rachel Bloom Talked to Us!

Notorious RB! As you likely know because you, like me, have been humming “I’m So Good At Yoga since October 2015, Rachel Bloom co-created and stars as Rachel Bunch in the buh-RILLIANT, joyous, and opposite-of-sexist Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, for which she has racked up impressive comedy awards include a Golden Globe and a Critics’ Choice.

Before that, our heroine toiled in the hilarity trenches: from head-writing/directing NYU’s sketch comedy group Hammerkatz to working at UCB to being ROOMMATES WITH ILANA GLAZER to creating a sidesplitting series of songs/videos/albums including the instant classics “I Steal Pets” and “Historically Accurate Disney Princess Song.” Then came Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and its magical journey from half-hour Showtime pilot to legit CW hit. Then came GOLD ComedyTM!

We asked, she answered, we died.

Why would you encourage girls and women to find their funny and share it with the world?

Women make up more than half the world yet still have a long way to go as far as representation in the media and in comedy. It’s only in the past few years that we’ve become fully aware of this—and now, there is a focus on giving women voices onstage, in front of the camera, and behind it too. Take advantage of it!

What are some things girls and women can do to find their funny?

The tips I’d have for women going into comedy are the same tips I’d have for anybody: find a community of people that you can both look up to and use to have a safe space to fail. Trying your best and safely failing are the only ways you get good at anything. Don’t be shy about letting your voice be heard. You don’t have to scream, but you do have to have inner confidence (even if, at the beginning, it’s a “fake it ’till you make it” type thing).

Favorite response to “Women aren’t funny”?

Uch, I can’t even waste my time speaking to you.

What would you tell your teenage self about why you do comedy?

Comedy is a way for me to flip the bird to all of the structures, norms, and stereotypes I felt like I had to fit into as a kid.

On your deathbed, what transcendent advice would you croak to aspiring funny girls/women?

Don’t be afraid because we’re all going to die anyway so nothing ultimately matters THAT much. Sorry, was that not helpful?

 

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