Mini Q+A with Atheer Yacoub

Atheer Yacoub is a New York based comedian, writer, and podcaster. Her comedy is inspired by her Palestinian-Muslim upbringing in Alabama. Atheer has appeared on Gotham Comedy Live, and is also a writer for The Breakdown with Mehdi Barakchian and Passport control with Mehdi Barakchian. Along with Leila Barghouty, Atheer co-hosts The No Fly List Podcast which features funny conversations with other brown comedians, artists, and interesting people. Check out where you can see Atheer live and follow her!

Favorite response to a heckler or troll?

I usually like to shut them down by putting them on the spot.

Describe your worst gig.

When I first started out, I did a show for a Muslim charity during Ramadan and I went up right as the food was coming out and people were starving and waiting to break their fast and no one was paying attention to me, which is totally understandable. I was the only thing standing between them and a huge buffet after an 18 hour fast and I can’t compete with carbs. My 30 min set ended up getting cut short because the sun went down and it was time to break the fast, which I was perfectly okay with, considering how it was going.

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

Talk about things that matter to you and have a unique point of view. Don’t pander or cater to anyone. Do jokes that are true to who you are you will build an audience who appreciates your humor. Just make sure to present it in a way that’s relatable.

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

My immediate thought is “that person is ignorant and has probably never seen women do comedy.”

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

Having good comedian friends to go to open mics with and people I can write with helped me feel like I wasn’t completely on my own. It’s also really important to surround yourself with positive people as comedians can get really jaded and negativity is contagious.

Best comedy advice you ever got?

Don’t compare yourself or career to anyone else and be patient. Don’t worry about what shows or things everybody else is getting, because everyone has a unique path. Just focus on becoming the funniest version of yourself. Keep your head down and work hard and it will pay off.

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

I’ve gotten comedy mansplained to so many times by open mic male comedians who think they know best. Worst advice is probably not to talk about my culture or ethnic background, which is a huge part of who I am.

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

Being a woman in comedy is constantly having to answer the question “what’s it like to be a woman in comedy?”

Feelings about the word “comedienne”?

Yuck! It feels like an unnecessary distinction, as if the word comedian or comic defaults to males. I think the word comedian should be universal.

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

I think having a good sense of humor helps me not take life too seriously and keep things in perspective. It’s also a great way to connect with people and help break down barriers. I’d also be lying if I didn’t say it also serves as a coping and defense mechanism.

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

Be your funniest self at open mics and treat it like a show. People who run shows will be there and see how funny you are and ask you to be on their shows. Apply to festivals, contact bookers, and have a tight 5 min tape you can send them.

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

There was really no one person, but I grew up watching old sitcoms like I Love Lucy and Mary Tyler Moore. I think seeing strong, funny women, going against the grain helped me realize that it was a possibility to become a comedian myself. As a grew older, I started watching Sarah Silverman who I think is wonderful and hysterical.


Atheer Yacoub is a New York based comedian, writer, and podcaster. Her comedy is inspired by her Palestinian-Muslim upbringing in Alabama. Atheer has appeared on Gotham Comedy Live, and is also a writer for The Breakdown with Mehdi Barakchian and Passport control with Mehdi Barakchian. Along with Leila Barghouty, Atheer co-hosts The No Fly List Podcast which features funny conversations with other brown comedians, artists, and interesting people. Check out where you can see Atheer live and follow her!

How to get a job as a (TV) writer and comedian

Alison Leiby is a comedian (Bridgetown Comedy Festival) and writer on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Prior to writing for your fave comedy, she contributed to The President Show, The Opposition, and Triumph. Alison will be performing at Ladies who Laugh comedy fundraiser Tuesday, July 30. Get tickets here. Follow her!

Photo via: Alexandra Genova


What’s your job/job title?

Writer and Comedian

Did you always want to do this job?

Once I learned being a writer was actually a job, I knew one day I would do it. Before I knew it was a job I think I wanted to be like, a fashion designer/dolphin trainer hybrid.

What do you love most about your job?

I get to watch TV when I’m home and call it “research.”

What skills are the most important to have for it?

Creativity, flexibility, ability to live off of snacks for most of the year.

Are they skills that can be developed in other jobs?

Depends on the snack situation, but overall yes.

What is most challenging about your job?

Getting writer’s block when you’re in the office and not being able to go to Nordstrom Rack and browse for an hour to get through it, which is my cure when I’m working at home.

What, if any, are the particular challenges in your job related to your being outside the straight-white-dude norm? BONUS: How do you manage or overcome them?

It’s nice to realize that every year I notice those challenges less and less. I don’t know if that’s the world changing for the better, but I hope it is. There will always be jobs or shows or situations where straight-white-dudes will say they don’t “get” the jokes you’re making or they don’t think that reality shows or makeup tutorials or romance novels are worth making comedy about. You just have to know that they are extremely wrong about that and keep making the kind of comedy and writing the kind of things you think are funny. And if those things are “female” in nature or whatever, all the better. Oh, I also make a point of mentioning when my sick days are for my period cramps because it’s time everyone acknowledges what a nightmare that is (and very valid illness!).

What is the most important thing a teen or young job-seeker can do if they want YOUR JOB?

If you want to write, specifically comedy, it’s a skill like any other, so the more you do it, the better you become. Try and write something every day, even if you think it’s not good, it’s making you good. Also read, watch, and engage with as much of the world as you can. The more you know about the world, the more interesting things you’ll have to say about it in your work for the rest of your life. Also, don’t wait for someone to give you permission to write, just start writing (or performing, same rules apply)


Alison Leiby is a comedian (Bridgetown Comedy Festival) and writer on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Prior to writing for your fave comedy, she contributed to The President Show, The Opposition, and Triumph. Alison will be performing at Ladies who Laugh comedy fundraiser Tuesday, July 30. Get tickets here. Follow her!

Read Cassandra’s bio here.

Mini Q+A with Karen Chee

Karen Chee is a Brooklyn-based comedian and writer for Late Night with Seth Meyers. Karen’s TV writing credits include the 2019 Golden Globe Awards and the upcoming Reductress pilot on Comedy Central. Karen contributes regularly to The New Yorker and has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, McSweeney’s, and more. Catch Karen’s upcoming shows + follow!

Favorite response to a heckler or troll?

Aw, there are so many better things you could be doing with your time. Bowling, soccer, pottery. Maybe try one of those instead?

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

Lots of supportive friends and encouraging strangers and really enjoying the work.

Best comedy advice you ever got?

Go with your gut. Do what you think is funny! Never punch down.

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

It’s like being a woman anywhere–it’s hard and it sucks and it’s also somehow the best.

Feelings about the word “comedienne”?

lol


Karen Chee is a Brooklyn-based comedian and writer for Late Night with Seth Meyers. Karen’s TV writing credits include the 2019 Golden Globe Awards and the upcoming Reductress pilot on Comedy Central. Karen contributes regularly to The New Yorker and has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, McSweeney’s, and more. Catch Karen’s upcoming shows + follow!

Mini Q+A with Kate Robards

Kate Robards is an award-winning writer and performer based in New York City. Kate’s play trilogy Mandarin Orange, Ain’t That Rich, and PolySHAMory have racked up awards and performances across the country and abroad. Kate is a graduate of UCB improv and the one-year professional acting program at The Barrow Group.  She performs stand up and improv regularly in New York City, and has a standup series called Strawberry Milk. It’s just as good as it sounds.

Buy tickets to the monthly Strawberry Milk: A Standup Comedy Show on 7/26 here!


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

Start your own show and book the people you love the most! Know that there is no right or wrong path to making your way in comedy. It is just sticking with it!

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

Allow yourself to change, always.

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

Lauren Weedman. Even though she doesn’t identify as just a comedian, she’s a performer, writer, actors and she’s hilarious. I saw her solo show BUST at Studio Theatre years ago and was blown away by her work. The comedy and drama of it all made me say, I want to do that. Plus she’d written this hilarious book “A Woman Trapped in a Woman’s Body.” I was and continue to be in awe of her and her work.

How has being funny helped you in your offstage life?

I waited tables and worked in restaurants in high school and undergrad. I was literally using my personality and jokes for tips.

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

Fun! I’ve found strength in my fellow female comedians. I have started two female helmed comedy shows in NYC. I love it!

Describe your worst gig.

I’ve bombed a lot. I don’t beat myself up about it and instead I just celebrate every time I get on stage. I constantly remind myself ART AIN’T FOR THE FAINT OF HEART. Yes, comedy is art.

Best comedy advice you ever got?

Trust your instinct. Your jokes may not work initially but don’t abandon them. Tweak your premise and see how you can get the audience. Trust yourself.

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

You should wear sweatshirts. Don’t dress like you dress because women won’t laugh at you because they’ll be jealous that their date wants you not them. Of course this was from a male comedy club owner.

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

I’m still coming up, but my most essential trick to stick with comedy is to surround myself with good, kind people who believe in me and encourage me. This is crucial. There are some people who don’t get it. You can love them, but put your blinders on to negativity. My mom wrote me an inspiring email that has become a mantra after I was a finalist for Sundance Episodic Lab but was ultimately rejected. I have it memorized. The subject was- Keep on truckin’ The body of the email just said, “You are strong and work hard. You are in a business that does not necessarily reward being good. Much of it is based on luck, a twist of fate, or something strange that cannot be planned. Keep on going. Adjust when you need to. Remember to be kind to yourself a well as others. Love you”

Favorite response to a heckler or troll?

Thanks for listening, contributing, coming. If you want me to work with you on your performance, I do coach aspiring comics and performers. Hit me up after!


Kate Robards is an award-winning writer and performer based in New York City. Kate’s play trilogy Mandarin Orange, Ain’t That Rich, and PolySHAMory have racked up awards and performances across the country and abroad. Kate is a graduate of UCB improv and the one-year professional acting program at The Barrow Group.  She performs stand up and improv regularly in New York City. She performs a monthly standup series called Strawberry Milk. Buy tickets to the monthly Strawberry Milk: A Standup Comedy Show on 7/26 here.