Mini Q+A with Adrianne Chalepah

Adrianne Chalepah is a standup comedian, writer, and mother of four. Raised in Kiowa/Comanche/Apache territory in Oklahoma, she began her career in entertainment at age 20. She has been honored to open for First Lady Michelle Obama and share the stage with comedy legends such as Margaret Cho, Dane Cook, and Jarrod Carmichael. She is author of Funny Girl, an anthology of women comics and writers, and founder of the all-female indigenous comedy troupe Ladies of Native Comedy. In 2019, she was featured in the Netflix series Larry Charles’ Dangerous World of Comedy. She is a member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma.


Describe your worst gig.

Laughlin, Nevada. Old rich retirees apparently aren’t into my jokes.

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

Be unapologetically yourself.

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

Your mom is funny.

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

I needed it for sanity.

Best comedy advice you ever got?

Do your thang.

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

Wear a tutu on stage.

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

I don’t know. I’m not convinced I’m a “real” woman.

Feelings about the word “comedienne”?

Meh.

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

Network. It don’t matter how funny you are if you don’t know the right people. Unfortunately, being an introvert, this is hard to do… Good luck!

What single word always cracks you up?

Fuddruckers

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

My dad. He’s a funny guy and he schooled me in film and comedy.

How has being funny helped you in your offstage life?

Humor is therapeutic. I come from inter-generational trauma as an indigenous person whose ancestors survived genocide. Comedy is ingrained in us. We survived because we never forgot to laugh.

 

Photo via: Ceylon Grey


Adrianne Chalepah is a standup comedian, writer, and mother of four. Raised in Kiowa/Comanche/Apache territory in Oklahoma, she began her career in entertainment at age 20. She has been honored to open for First Lady Michelle Obama and share the stage with comedy legends such as Margaret Cho, Dane Cook, and Jarrod Carmichael. She is author of Funny Girl, an anthology of women comics and writers, and founder of the all-female indigenous comedy troupe Ladies of Native Comedy. In 2019, she was featured in the Netflix series Larry Charles’ Dangerous World of Comedy. She is a member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma.

How to get a job as a TV (comedy) production assistant

There’s Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, Hulu, and hey, if you don’t find anything there, remember YouTube and Apple stream shows now too. So many shows, so many production assistant jobs—right? Yes and…even so, they’re still hard to get. But not impossible!

I’m here to give you hope that, yes, there’s a possibility you could be locking up the set while Midge runs across the street with Lenny Bruce or while Number Five is jumping through time to stop the apocalypse. Over the course of summer 2018, I was a production assistant for a variety of gigs, which eventually led to an opportunity to work on Orange is the New Black, otherwise known as OITNB, or GGE (GREATEST GIG EVARRR). Here’s what I learned about how to get there:

 

So What Does a PA Job Even Look Like?

You’re the grunt of the group, running here and there for whatever the show may need.  A good chunk of your time, especially as a first time PA, will involve set lock-up during taping. When a scene is rolling, it is the PA’s job to keep people from walking into the shot. This could include people working on set or pedestrians on the street.

I’m not going to lie, set lock-up will take up the majority of your time, but you may also be asked to run errands, help with crowd control, equipment setup, and craft services. Sometimes your responsibilities will depend on the level of production, whether it is a high- or low-budget project. On the lower budget sets, you tend to have more duties (a.k.a. take the small jobs too)!

It may not be the most glamorous role on the set, but it’s still an important one. If you hang in there long enough, opportunities will open up to move up as PA to more specific areas, like roles as Costume, Office, and First Team PA’s. At the bottom, you’re there to learn, work hard, make connections, and explore what interests you the most in production!

LinkedIn, LinkedIn, LinkedIn

GOLDMINE! All the contacts you could ever need are on there! Did you find someone who is a production secretary for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel? Great! Message them. If you find someone who is a producer or a writer, definitely message them too! Keep in mind, though, people who are just a step or two ahead of you, like a production secretary, are probably looking to move up too and are more likely to check their messages and sympathize with your plight. Ask them to help a girl out! Introduce yourself, your experience, what you want to do, and ask them if they’d be willing to talk on the phone or over a cup of joe. Do not ask them for a job, but rather for advice. You’d be surprised how many people want to talk about what they do, especially if it’s something they love.

I messaged many, many people. A lot I did not hear from, but an occasional few took pity on my sorry self. One contact added me to social media groups where low- and high-budgeted projects post PA gigs. I applied to a super low-budget, unpaid PA gig and got it. Do not say no to those projects unless you have a good reason to (like food and/or shelter) because you just never know. A couple of the connections I made on that set worked for OITNB. They saw the good work I did and dragged me along with them on a few other projects until one day they asked me step into the holy ranks of OITNB.

 

Be “annoying” (sic)

We often confuse annoying with persistent. Do not be afraid to be persistent. Look, the people you’re messaging are busy. In fact, they probably did see your message and decided they’d answer later, but forgot. Can you message them again? Of course! I recommend waiting at least a week. Many times I’ve had people respond to me a week to a week and a half later. If you’ve messaged them again and still don’t hear back after a week, then you can probably drop it.  

This persistence applies to current contacts too. If you’ve built a solid relationship with past supervisors, reach out to them! Ask them if they want to catch up. Always, always, always touch base with connections every few months. If a job opens up at their company/show, light bulb! You’ll be fresh in their minds. A motto you will become very comfortable with this in this process: You just never know.

 

Keep your friends close, but your peers closer

Everyone starts out differently in the entertainment industry. Don’t fret if you don’t get that first PA job fresh out of college (not many get so lucky). And don’t get jealous when a former fellow intern or co-worker of yours does. Instead, be excited! Cheer and praise them and then slip in there and use that connection. I interned with The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in spring 2018. It changed my life because I was suddenly surrounded by all these other interns who were interested in the same career path as me. And they have the drive to pursue it too. Their connections become yours and vice versa. You can be friends and value their industry connections.

I know it’s daunting. It’s still daunting to me! But keep in mind these aren’t the only things you can do. They just happen to be avenues I found helpful. I know people who were agent assistants who found the experience beneficial for work at production companies. People start as PA’s in news and broadcast and find connections in television through that. Don’t let the grind wear you down or make you doubt yourself. Don’t pass up opportunities that could lead to bigger things just because it’s not how you imagined beginning. Be fearless and proactive because, that’s right: you just never know. As Nicky says on OITNB, “You’re tougher than woodpecker lips. You’ll be okay.”

 

Photo via: Orange Is the New Black Wikia/Netflix


Erin Kinkley originates from the great state of Ohio and is an alumnus of The Ohio State University (hail Brutus!). Her interest in comedy and entertainment includes experiences in television as a former intern at The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and as a set production assistant. Currently, Erin is attempting to unravel the inner workings of J.K. Rowling’s mind. What’s the formula for making the bestselling fantasy book series of all time? That’s what Erin plans to find out.

How to be funny on Twitter, Vol. 3

Being funny on Twitter is an ART. It is TOUGH to squeeze your genius into 280 characters, but it’s worth it: no matter what, it’s great practice for concise, show-don’t-tell writing, and a perfect place to test out your jokes. That’s why we’ve already written about the beautiful hellscape that is Twitter here and here—and we STILL have more to share!

 

This time, let’s talk about: the comedy devices people use to be funny on Twitter. Sometimes they’re flash-in-the pan memes that fill your timeline with short-lived riffs or giant cows. But some are the comedy gifts that keep on giving. So when you’ve got a funny thought but aren’t sure how to shape it, look here for ideas!  

 

And if you don’t see your favorite one here? Please DO @ us!

 

Compare and share

Comparisons can be an excellent source of content, and you make them all the time without even realizing it. Use the tweet styles below to draw attention to the comparison you want to make.

 

Me… Also me

This format is great to use when you realize you have made a funny self contradiction or are doing something you know you shouldn’t. Alternately known as the “evil Kermit” meme.

 

Time jump

This tweet style is great for drawing a comparison between the differences in yourself or others at different ages. For teens who may not have that many years under your belt yet, you can structure it as “Me at 13 vs. Me at 18.”

 

Me, an intellectual

Faux-intellectualism is always funny. Bonus points if you can combine it with another device or meme, like the tweet below:

 

Product suggestion

This one is great for when you have an addition or “improvement” to an already-made product. The more absurd you can go with these while still suggesting a semi-desirable new thing, the better. Structure: “Those [familiar product], but [joke].”

 

Log of dialogues

Although people often use Twitter as a place to monologue about their thoughts, don’t forget to incorporate dialogue into your feed. These back and forths can be a simple way to get a point across.

 

You vs. your body

This tweet style puts you at war with… yourself. What does your brain argue about with the rest of your body?

 

Interrupting Cow

Obvs, the famed “interrupting cow”  joke but in tweet form. It’s great for when you want to demonstrate how a common-sense point keeps getting shot down for stupid reasons.

 

Baby talk

Do you have a short message you want to make that doesn’t need a lot of context? This dialogue format between a parent and a baby is a solid option. Works best when your message starts with a “D” for “Dada” or an “M” for “Mama,” but you can get creative with your baby’s first words!

 

A picture’s worth a thousand tweets

Got a great GIF, picture, or video you want to post but not sure how to frame it? Use one of these!

 

ONE JOB

Have you seen something so counterintuitive (read: epic #fail) that you just had to take a picture of it to prove it was real? Now you have ONE JOB: post that pic with the “You had ONE JOB” caption, and let hilarity ensue.

 

Passive aggressive prayers

This one is tricky to do successfully and without shaming anyone, but if you notice a friend or family member that resembles someone/something else, you can plug it into the “Pray for my ____, there’s nothing wrong with him, he just ____” format. When in doubt, check with them first!

 

General GIFfery

Have a funny GIF or video that you want to post, but not sure what to say about it? Set it up so that your GIF/video is the answer to a question! The example below frames it within an interview, but your answer can be to your mom, friend, teacher, or whoever makes the most sense.

 

Re: Retweets

See a tweet that you just GOTTA respond to, but you’re not sure how? Here are some devices you can try out.

 

Check your spelling

See a tweet that misrepresents fact or a news story so blatantly that you can’t help but respond? Use the “You misspelled ____” device to write out what the tweet SHOULD have said. (Also known as “Here, I fixed it.”)

 

Staring contest

This device is perfect for when you want to use your specific background—your race, culture, sexual orientation, etc.—as the focal point of your response without wanting to get too deep into minutiae. Not sure that “stares” is the way you’d respond? Try out “laughs,” “scoffs,” or “nods” paired with your background.

 

Said no one ever

Similar to Check Your Spelling above, if you see a tweet (or quote in an article) that is laughably wrong or one that you know many people would disagree with, just quote tweet with a simple “…said no one ever.”

This + that

You’ll see a lot of these “this + that” Twitter formats that often go viral, where you can really let your creativity and humor shine through your retweeted answer. Don’t be afraid to push the format limits, like this run-on reply did here.

 

 

Tweet tags

These devices are great when you have a topic or idea that feels fairly fully formed already, but you’re not sure how to end it.

 

TED Talk time

Use this one when you have a strong opinion that you know is #hottake OR, if you’re being silly, the opposite. Pop a “thank you for coming to my TED talk at the end” and you’re golden! Note: if you run out of room, this one’s common enough that it’s funny to just trail off, as in: “Thank you for coming to my Ted ta”

 

In this essay

Similar: Have a counterintuitive or unique point to make and only 280 characters to do it in? Write as much of your idea out as you can to get your point across and then end with an “in this essay I will” to show that you could go on long enough to fill a scholarly journal.

 

Don’t @ me

Got a controversial or unconventional point to make? Slap “don’t @ me” at the end of your tweet and prep for a debate.

 

Asking for a friend

Any silly questions you want to ask the Twitter-verse work best when you are “asking for a friend.” This is also a great way to make thirst tweets more palatable: you’re not lusting after Shawn Mendez’s new Calvin Klein pics, your “friend” is!

 

*checks notes*

This device works well when you want to highlight hypocrisy or a piece of information that should be obvious, and is often used with a picture or retweet. A great choice for political opinions and satirical takes as well.

 

Grab bag

These devices don’t necessarily fall neatly into one category, but they don’t have to when they’re as funny as these are.

 

Yeah, sex is cool…

When you want to draw attention to the best moment or feeling in the world, just point out how much cooler it is than sex and voila! Viral tweet activated.

 

Don’t say it…

Have something you really really wanna say, but also have a chorus of people telling you “don’t say it” in your head? This device turns that thought process visual, and has the added benefit of helping you put out your favorite dad jokes, puns, or other silly thoughts into the world.

 

Rupi Kaur poetry slam

Oh Rupi Kaur, what would we do without your beautiful yet formulaic poems? Turn them into a tweet, of course! Copy her poetry style for your short takes that sound deeper than they actually are.

 

Personal reasons

We all have our own personal reasons for doing things, but now you can leverage them as the setup for tweeting about anything that typically occurs regardless of personal reasons.

 

When in doubt

If you’ve made it to the end of this list, you know that there are so many different formats you can use for all your tweeting needs, but if you are ever really and truly stuck, use the tried and true “just gonna leave this here” tweet. Then you can post anything—and we mean ANYTHING.

 


Alex Wolfe is an Atlanta native with two native New Yorker parents, which basically just means she’s a Mets fan who also says “y’all.” Alex is a recent graduate from Vanderbilt University, where she was managing editor of The Slant, a humor and satire publication. She also helped create Vanderbilt’s first performance outlet for standup comedy, the biannual Standup Showdown event, in which she also performed. @alexwolfepack

Mini Q+A with Brittani Nichols

Brittani Nichols is a writer, comedian, and actor living in Los Angeles. Words With Girls, a comedy pilot (based on the web series of the same name) that she created and starred in, was produced as part of Issa Rae’s Color Creative TV and premiered at HBO/BET’s Urbanworld Film Festival. She co-hosts Brand New Podcast with fellow witch and comedian Ariana Lenarsky. Suicide Kale, the feature she produced, wrote, and starred in, is currently available on SVOD after winning numerous awards including the Audience Award at Outfest and Newfest. Brittani has appeared on Transparent and Take My Wife and her writing credits include StrangersTake My Wife, MTV’s VMA’s and the celebrity rap battle show Drop the Mic. Brittani is currently writing for the recently announced A Black Lady Sketch Show for HBO.


Favorite response to a heckler or troll?

You’re boring.

Describe your worst gig.

Every gig is terrible because I’d rather be at home.

On your deathbed, what transcendent advice would you croak at a young (female/LGBTQI) comedian? 

Get comfortable with the discomfort of saying no to things.

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

I live a life in which I avoid this scenario.

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

My friends coming to shows. If you’re not funny, and your friends have self-respect, they will not repeatedly come watch you be unfunny.

Best comedy advice you ever got?

All you need is a beginning, middle, and end.

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

You should be able to make everyone laugh.

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

I’ve used humor as a comping mechanism since before I knew what a coping mechanism was. Being able to talk about things via jokes before I was in a place where I was willing to be vulnerable enough to talk about them plainly helped me make sense of myself, the world around me, and the things that happened to me.

What single word always cracks you up?

Whilst

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

I don’t know that there was a period between wanting to be a comedian and becoming one. It was just the decision of, “Oh, this is what I’m doing now.” But Dave Chappelle was the reason I became invested in comedy and appreciated every aspect of it before I decided it’s what I would do.

Feelings about the word “comedienne”?

The only people I see use that word are men trying to be funny by putting it in their Twitter bios.

 

Photo via: Robin Roemer


Brittani Nichols is a writer, comedian, and actor living in Los Angeles. Words With Girls, a comedy pilot (based on the web series of the same name) that she created and starred in, was produced as part of Issa Rae’s Color Creative TV and premiered at HBO/BET’s Urbanworld Film Festival. She co-hosts Brand New Podcast with fellow witch and comedian Ariana Lenarsky. Suicide Kale, the feature she produced, wrote, and starred in, is currently available on SVOD after winning numerous awards including the Audience Award at Outfest and Newfest. Brittani has appeared on Transparent and Take My Wife and her writing credits include StrangersTake My Wife, MTV’s VMA’s and the celebrity rap battle show Drop the Mic. Brittani is currently writing for the recently announced A Black Lady Sketch Show for HBO.