Mini Q+A with…Chanel Ali

Chanel Ali is a standup comedian who blossomed on the Philadelphia circuit before moving to New York City in 2015. Her stage presence and story teller style make her a crowd favorite as she covers her upbringing, her world view, and life as a comedian who doubles as a polite person in real life. She was recently featured on an episode of Night Train with Wyatt Cenac and performs regularly at Caroline’s on Broadway and New York Comedy Club. Follow her!


 

Favorite response to a heckler or troll?

Right now, I’m a babysitter, just juggling babies and killing it at my job. You’re the guy, who’s bringing in mooore babies. Let me work.

 

Describe your worst gig.

I once had a gig at a bar that didn’t have a stage. They told us to stand near the pool table and gave us a wireless mic while the crowd was screaming watching the Super Bowl. Every comedian got one minute in before the boos took over. Afterwards, we could only laugh for having the guts to even try it.

 

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

Comedy is minutes, tiny bursts of opportunity on a show or a mic. Whenever you’re lost, get back on stage again, and again, and again.

 

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

Steve Martin has a book called Born Standing Up and I read it after the first time I bombed in front of a lot of people. He said that his goal was to be good. Consistently good. Which is a hard goal. Moments of greatness happen all the time in comedy but consistency? It sounded daunting. I committed myself to the idea and invested heavily in learning from my mistakes. I became meticulous about my sets, keeping notes, taking audio recordings, studying the good, bad or weird.

 

Best comedy advice you ever got?

Don’t get comfortable in how that joke goes. It could change overtime, it could get better or become different. The joke isn’t done until you say so.

 

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

Sometimes I try to get people to laugh in business settings. I’ll make a bill collector laugh on the phone and then make a better deal. It helps drop the tension in a lot of situations and creates an energy where people feel compassion.

 

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

It’s that old saying, dress for the job you want. Every time you get on stage you have an opportunity to showcase yourself and your work. Sometimes you have to use an open mic to showcase a complete set, to show that you have the material organized and that you are ready to be booked. Put yourself in the mindset of a booker watching a bunch of open mic sets. If you were booking a show you would want someone who goes up on stage with a plan and executes it. You’d want someone who seems polished and fun.

 

Feelings about the word “comedienne”?

Not my favorite honestly. I don’t want to be called that but I really don’t care if the next person does. I just like to be called a comedian. I think it’s gender neutral and I think it’s who I am, through and through.

 


Chanel Ali is a standup comedian who blossomed on the Philadelphia circuit before moving to New York City in 2015. Her stage presence and story teller style make her a crowd favorite as she covers her upbringing, her world view, and life as a comedian who doubles as a polite person in real life. She was recently featured on an episode of Night Train with Wyatt Cenac and performs regularly at Caroline’s on Broadway and New York Comedy Club. Follow her!

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How to get a job as a Digital Producer

…with Ana Breton, digital producer for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. 

Ana has 7+ years of working in film production. She was a camera operator for the movie “In Football We Trust,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015. On the side, you can find her working on comedy videos with The Box, the all-female comedy talk show at The People’s Improv Theatre. She was a member of UCB’s Digital Team The Council and the all-female Digital Team LASH. She was born in Mexico City, speaks Spanish & really likes tacos. Follow her!


What’s your job/job title?

Digital Producer at Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.

Did you always want to do this job? 

Digital producing is a fairly new job in television. I didn’t always know it existed, but I was interested in all the things it encompasses: producing videos, contributing to our social media accounts, building our show’s website, making a lot of behind the scenes content. I love letting people peek behind the curtain of the show.

What do you love most about your job? 

I love watching our show live! There’s a very special energy in the studio on Wednesdays.

What skills are most important to have for your job? 

Being versatile! In one day I could: produce a full video, take photos for the show, and/or contribute tweets for our show’s account. You never know what you’ll be doing that morning!

Are those skills that can be developed in other jobs, even outside of comedy?

Absolutely! There’s no school or major that teaches you how to produce online content. You learn bits and pieces from other jobs and experiences, and for me, it all came together here.

What are the challenges in your job related to your being outside the straight-white-dude norm? 

TV and film continue to be run by mostly white men. I feel lucky to work in a diverse environment, but even then your voice can be drowned out sometimes. My advice: Be confident in your point of view, and make sure it’s heard. If we want to change the media landscape, we have to continue to chip until we’re seen and heard.

What is the most important thing a teen or young job-seeker can do if she wants YOUR JOB? Well, not YOUR job, but a job just like yours. 

If you want to work at a political late night show, read up on politics and brush up on joke writing. Reach out to people you’re a fan of; you’d be surprised how many would be interested in mentoring you. Find internships or production assistant gigs, and most important, never give up!

What is most challenging about your job?

Because our show is a political late night show, we are constantly hyper-aware of what’s happening in politics. That can be exhausting. It’s important to take breaks from the news cycle some days!


Ana Breton is currently a Digital Producer for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.  Ana has 7+ years of working in film production. She was a camera operator for the movie “In Football We Trust,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015. On the side, you can find her working on comedy videos with The Box, the all-female comedy talk show at The People’s Improv Theatre. She was a member of UCB’s Digital Team The Council and the all-female Digital Team LASH. She was born in Mexico City, speaks Spanish & really likes tacos. Follow her!

 

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How to get a job in…comedy writing and production

 

“Comedy” means a lot of things. While many of you want to PERFORM comedy, many of you just want to be IN comedy, or NEAR comedy—as a writer, producer, manager or agent, club owner…so many options! We’re here to help you figure out how to get there…with people who ARE there. This week we chat with: longtime (and hilarious) Netflix TV writer and producer Nancy Cohen.

What’s your job/job title?

TV Writer/Producer at Netflix.

Did you always want to do this job?

I worked in TV production in my twenties, while dabbling in writing. I just didn’t have the confidence to pursue it seriously. I’m glad I waited because I collected many stories…just by living.

What do you love most about your job?

Writing a scene in, let’s say, a bakery. And then a couple months later a crew is hammering away, building a bakery. It’s insane. Also, there’s lots of laughing every day.

What is most challenging about your job?

Knowing when to keep my mouth shut and when to open it! That took me YEARS. People who are writers’ assistants learn this firsthand because they work in the room. I worked on set so I had no clue how the room worked. It’s also important to not take things personally. People tell me I have a thick skin, which also took years. In my twenties, I was the first to run to the office bathroom for a good cry.

Are there challenges in your job related to your being outside the straight-white-dude norm?

The challenges: those dudes stick together and have each others’ backs. I think women have to work harder to prove that we’re good at our jobs. But now, more women are getting staffed on shows because guess what: they NEED us. Now I feel like it’s a bonus to be female. We knew this all along but finally, they’ve figured it out! Embrace your POV.

What skills are the most important to have for it?

Having a unique voice and perspective and finding the funny in all situations.

Can those skills be developed in other jobs? 

We write as a team so being able to collaborate is key. If you can get a job as a writers’ assistant or P.A., you’ll learn how the TV machine works, which will be very helpful.

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

Get any job on a TV show. Do the grunt work and keep writing every day, even if it’s just a couple of paragraphs in a journal. Because when you’re older, you’ll go back to those journals for material! See movies, watch TV shows, read books, figure out how YOU want to express yourself then go for it. And then go for it again and again and again. The more you write, the better you’ll get. Also, remember that everyone’s first drafts suck; writing is rewriting.

Want more comedy inspo? Of course you do! Check out more mini Q+As.


After stage managing and fetching people things for years in New York, Nancy Cohen moved to Los Angeles to be a television writer. She has written on numerous shows, including The King of Queens, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Gravity Falls and Fuller House. She’s currently writing on a Netflix show, Alexa and Katie, which will premiere on 3/23/18. Nancy lives in Hollywood with her husband, Brian Frazer, also a writer, and puppy Hubbell, not a writer. In her spare time she tap dances.

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Mini Q+A with…Samantha Ruddy

Samantha Ruddy tells jokes, writes funny stuff, and weasels her way into your heart with her girl-next-door charm. At the age of 25, she’s headlined Caroline’s on Broadway and has been featured at national comedy festivals including New York Comedy Festival, San Francisco Sketchfest, and Bridgetown Comedy Festival and in shows including Whiplash at UCB, Night Train with Wyatt Cenac, and the Stella Classic Nightclub Show. Brooklyn Magazine called her one of Brooklyn’s 50 Funniest People, and BUST says she’s a comic “you should be obsessed with.” Samantha is a skilled joke writer and her comedy is clever, disarming, and sly. Read her writing on CollegeHumor, Someecards, and Reductress; check out a show; and follow her on Twitter @Samlymatters. You’ll be glad you did. And she will too!


Favorite response to a heckler or troll?

Something personal and devastating.

Describe your worst gig. 

Once I did a bar show that got double-booked with a funeral reception and the first comic tried to do crowd work with the grieving family. The reception wrapped up pretty fast after that.
The people who ran the show are great guys who were doing their best with a bad situation, but the people who owned the bar sucked. They were like “Sorry, I guess just do the show?” Great idea. Not awkward at all.

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

Use hard C sounds for punchlines!!! (Honestly, I have no idea.)

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

It used to make me angry but now I don’t really care. They’re probably being willfully ignorant and want a reaction, so I’m not giving it.

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

I just really like it. When I have a bad set, I watch a special I love to remind myself that I enjoy standup and that’s inspiring to me. Just getting to do something that you like can be inspiring.

Best comedy advice you ever got?

I feel like I heard this from Emily Heller via an article, but it always stuck with me, and it was to do your A material when you’re in a new city so people know you’re funny. It really helped me when I moved to NYC.

Worst comedy advice you ever got? 

Somebody told me once that if you mention being gay, you can’t be considered a clean comic. It still boggles my mind.

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

A nightmare!!!! No, it’s fine. It has unique challenges but I’m sure there are fields in which it’s even more difficult to be a woman.

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

The advice from above of doing your A-game when you get to a new city. I moved to NYC after my first year of doing standup in upstate NY, and I would only do my best jokes at mics and eventually I started getting booked on bar shows.

On shows, I would mix newer jokes in with ones that I knew worked. From there I was able to develop an act and keep getting booked. Building momentum early is huge so you don’t get stuck in a cycle of just doing mics. It sucks, but first impressions matter.

Single word that always cracks you up?

Debacle.

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

There were a lot of factors, but I remember watching John Mulaney’s New in Town in early 2013 and being really inspired by it to try writing jokes. By the middle of the year, I was doing standup regularly.

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

I was a chubby kid. Well, I guess I’m a chubby adult now, too. But I was way chubbier as a kid and I realized I could deflect any bullying by just being funny. That was when I was around ten years old.
As I got older, I started to realize I wasn’t attracted to boys like my classmates were, so humor definitely helped me deal with that. Granted, I didn’t understand I liked girls, but humor for sure helped me through the three-year span I thought I was like asexual. I just made being funny my thing. In retrospect, I was probably very annoying and I’m sure I owe people apologies.

Feelings about the word “comedienne”?

It doesn’t offend me, but it seems unnecessary. We all do the same thing. Why not have the same name?

Samantha Ruddy tells jokes, writes funny stuff, and weasels her way into your heart with her girl-next-door charm. At the age of 25, she’s headlined Caroline’s on Broadway and has been featured at national comedy festivals including New York Comedy Festival, San Francisco Sketchfest, and Bridgetown Comedy Festival and in shows including Whiplash at UCB, Night Train with Wyatt Cenac, and the Stella Classic Nightclub Show. Brooklyn Magazine called her one of Brooklyn’s 50 Funniest People, and BUST says she’s a comic “you should be obsessed with.” Samantha is a skilled joke writer and her comedy is clever, disarming, and sly. Read her writing on CollegeHumor, Someecards, and Reductress; check out a show; and follow her on Twitter @Samlymatters. You’ll be glad you did. And she will too!

 

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Mini Q+A with Lauren Mayer

Lauren Mayer is an award-winning songwriter and entertainer who can make anything, and anyone, funny (at roasts, parties, shows, etc., or on her critically acclaimed albums and videos). Watch her hilarious musical rants Dear Internet Trolls, I Didn’t Come From Your Rib (You Came From My Vagina), and Then You’re A Feminist—and her most recent viral smash, The Sexual Harassment Prevention Song.


Favorite response to a heckler or troll?

 

Describe your worst gig. 

Getting invited to an audition night by Mitzi Shore at The Comedy Store, doing my cute little songs, and then being followed by a guy who impersonated a penis having its first sexual experience.

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

Find your audience—they’re out there!—and hang in there. I’ve become an overnight success after 37 years.

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

“Are you kidding? We couldn’t deal with people who make comments like that without a sense of humor!”

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

I’m still “coming up”! But I’ve stuck with it because people send me comments on my videos, saying that I help them laugh at the news, or that my songs make them feel better.

Best comedy advice you ever got?

Take your time. (I tend to rush.)

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

You’re too old to do this.

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

“Like being a woman in life…”

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

Coping with everything! I recently survived pneumonia-induced sepsis, and I posted regular dark comedy essays as a way of coping…and I coped with being a total late bloomer in high school.

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

Tom Lehrer, starting when I was a kid. He wrote such literate, smart songs about current events.

Feelings about the word “comedienne”?

Mixed. It has a cool french feel and sounds smarter, but it’s also diminishing (like “usherette”).

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

Get discovered by your site! And hang in there—I’ve been posting topical comedy songs every week for 5+ years, and it just now hit for me.


Lauren Mayer is an award-winning songwriter and entertainer who can make anything, and anyone, funny (at roasts, parties, shows, etc., or on her critically acclaimed albums and videos). Watch her hilarious musical rants Dear Internet Trolls, I Didn’t Come From Your Rib (You Came From My Vagina), and Then You’re A Feminist—and her most recent viral smash, The Sexual Harassment Prevention Song.

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A Mini Q+A with Ladies Who Ranch

Ladies Who Ranch’s monthly show at Vital Joint features brand-new material from six female comedians who are veterans of the The Annoyance Theater in Brooklyn: Kelly Cooper (Ground Floor), Caitlin Dullea (Ground Floor), Rachel Kaly (Montreal Sketchfest), Maya Sharma (Annoyance) , Caroline Yost (Annoyance) and Sophie Zucker (Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), along with material from a rotating special guest. This show carries on the beloved Annoyance-style comedy with a kickass cast of up-and-coming female comedians. It includes sketches, standup, and multi-media performances. LWR is women doing it for themselves, together! We urge you to ranch with us. More info here.

Favorite response to a heckler or troll?

Caroline: I like to slowly walk out into the audience, wrap my arms around my aggressor, and hang on tight for at least 15 minutes because maybe it’s like a hug or maybe it’s like I caught them.

Describe your worst gig.

Kelly: When I was doing my set, the host of the show was having a conversation with their cohost directly in front of the stage that was as audible as the mic.

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

Maya: If you think women aren’t funny then 1. You are not paying attention to the comedy world at all (women are objectively slaying) so your opinion is unfounded, and 2. You’re a limited person and I’m tempted to play Ke$ha’s “Praying” in your direction. Sorry.

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

Caitlin: Never making friends with any women, because you just can’t trust them.

Best comedy advice you ever got?

Sophie: Find people you want to make stuff with, and grow out your bangs.

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

Sophie: Take the Producer’s Assistant job.

Feelings about the word “comedienne”? 

Maya: I feel the same way about it as I do the term “making love/love making”: I don’t like it but then again I do say it sometimes. No hard lines drawn in the sand, “comedienne” is fine.

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

Rachel: My sense of humor is the only thing I can consistently rely on to get through tragedy.

Single word that always cracks you up?

Caitlin: Poverty.

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

Kelly: Hosting a show is a great way to network, but overall if you’re a friendly person who performs good material you can’t go wrong.

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

Sophie: There was no one person that inspired me to become a comedian, but taking classes at Second City helped me realize I could become a comedian. Second City not only helped me hone my craft, but also laid out a path towards doing comedy professionally, and having those loose instructions made starting the process much easier.

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

Caroline: Very, VERY sexy.

 


Ladies Who Ranch’s monthly show at Vital Joint features brand-new material from six female comedians who are veterans of the The Annoyance Theater in Brooklyn: Kelly Cooper (Ground Floor), Caitlin Dullea (Ground Floor), Rachel Kaly (Montreal Sketchfest), Maya Sharma (Annoyance) , Caroline Yost (Annoyance) and Sophie Zucker (Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), along with material from a rotating special guest. This show carries on the beloved Annoyance-style comedy with a kickass cast of up-and-coming female comedians. It includes sketches, standup, and multi-media performances. LWR is women doing it for themselves, together! We urge you to ranch with us.  More info here.

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Mini Q+A with Rebecca Caplan

Rebecca Caplan is a sketch and satire writer living in Brooklyn, NY. She is currently a staff writer for CollegeHumor, and the director and writer of the short film Show Off. You can listen to her on Caught in The Web, and find her contributions to the Shouts & Murmurs section of The New Yorker. Rebecca was named one of New York’s top comedians to look out for in 2018. Follow her!

Best comedy advice you ever got?

“Do your thing and don’t care if they like it,” from Tina Fey’s book (by way of a story about Amy Poehler, I believe).

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

“You should try improv.” I’m bad at improv and should not pursue it.

Favorite response to a heckler or troll?

Muting them.

Describe your worst gig.

I gave a bad speech at my dad’s 60th birthday party. In my defense, there was an open bar. I’m still in comedy to this day.

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

Knowing my parents were paying for me to get a degree in “Television-Radio”, there’s not much to go off there.

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

I’ve never felt like being the “funny friend “was the hand I was lucky to be dealt because I wasn’t smart/pretty/cool enough to be the smart/pretty/cool friend. I just felt like it was the person I liked being. I liked that my humor was the quality that attracted people to me. Growing up, it felt good to have my self esteem bolstered with a quality I liked about myself. It gave me confidence growing up when other areas of my self-image might have been shaky.

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

I haven’t hung out with a person who says stuff like that since I was in high school. And that wasn’t really a choice; it was just, you know, homeroom.

Feelings about the word “comedienne”?

Not using that word is important to some people and using that word is important to some people! Some women or non-binary people might want to move away from what they perceive to be a gendered word. Others might feel empowered by having a title associated with femininity. I think both are valid approaches. As with anything regarding identity, the most important part is respecting the person you’re attaching something like this to. If you’re a person who thinks one way is right over another based on what makes yourself the most comfortable, as opposed to the person it might affect, then you’re coming at it from the wrong way.

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

I don’t like to respond to that question too often. The quota has been met on cis white women in comedy answering that question. Cis white women are not the Lorax for all women in comedy. Women in comedy, as with women in all industries, are not a monolith.

A standup’s experience is different from a screenwriter’s. To a larger point, a black woman’s experience is different from a white woman’s. Identities make up different experiences that can’t be summed up by one privileged person’s experience. And I often feel as if that is the point of this question, to wrap up the problems ALL women face in comedy in a neat little bow.

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

I genuinely hope I’m not spending my precious deathbed time doling out free advice to 20-year-old comedians instead of like, spending time with my great-great-great grandson. (I intend to live until I am very old.) My advice would be stop hanging out with old dying comedians and go do some comedy stuff. Also stop checking your Twitter follower count.

(main photo via: Hannah Grant)


Rebecca Caplan is a sketch and satire writer living in Brooklyn, NY. She is currently a staff writer for CollegeHumor, and the director and writer of the short film Show Off.  You can listen to her on Caught in The Web, and find her contributions to the Shouts & Murmurs section of The New Yorker. Rebecca was named one of New York’s top comedians to look out for in 2018. Follow her!

 

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Mini Q+A with Joanna Parson

Joanna Parson is a New York-based actor, singer, and writer. She’s working on her first book, Emily’s Tour Diary (and Other Tragedies of the Stage). Watch her! Follow her!

Best comedy advice you ever got?

“You’re putting a pause before and after your exit line, ‘framing’ it. Try eliminating the pause.”

I was irate at the time because I thought it was a line reading, but that director was right, and I experiment with timing like that all the time now.

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

Slap face immediately, no framing.

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

“You should concentrate on comedy, because you’re not one of the ‘pretty’ people.”

That hung me up for years.

Better: “You can do whatever you like, gorgeous,” (does not matter if person is actually gorgeous), “but remember that not everyone can do comedy.”

Favorite response to a heckler or troll?

Me: (Sings “When Cousins Marry.”)

Troll: You should not make fun of people who marry their cousins. I married my cousin, and it’s been a wonderful, supportive relationship.

Me: (Nods five times, returns to chorus.)

Describe your worst gig.

Any time my mother made me play in living rooms full of extended family.

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

It takes too much time and energy to be anybody but yourself. Quit that nonsense early and often.

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

I used to think I was riding a line between making people laugh and annoying them. Then I saw some feedback that said “I feel happiness when she makes me laugh,” and I realized I had to honor laughter and see it as a force for only good.

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

If you heard the places and circumstances in which I’ve had legitimate fun you’d never be able to watch another “Walking Dead” episode without screaming “Lighten up!” Fun is everywhere, or should be.

Single word that always cracks you up?

“Mawage.”

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

Helen Reddy. In the ’70s, she was in movies, on the radio, had variety shows on TV, was a true feminist, and was on the Muppets. What more could you ask out of life?

For standups: what advice do you have for how to level up from open mics + bringers to actual SPOT-spots?

Try music, if it speaks to you. Show runners need variety!

 

(main photo via: Studio Joe+Jill)


Joanna Parson is a New York-based actor, singer, and writer. She’s working on her first book, Emily’s Tour Diary (and Other Tragedies of the Stage). Watch her! Follow her!

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Mini Q+A with…Lorena Russi

Lorena was born inside of a Lorena, found inside another Lorena. She and all her clones have created content with BuzzFeed and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and also hosted Chipotle’s Snapchat channel! You can additionally find them all filming, writing, and performing on her comedy channel @Quesodigital as well as on a Magnet Theater Sketch team on Monday nights. Please contact Lorena if you want to make some “hahah” together or if you’re interested in being cloned.**

**Cloning not guaranteed


Best comedy advice you ever got?

On writing about race: “Kicking a dog while it’s down will never be funny.”

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

On a sketch about a lesbian couple: “I think they should kiss. How else will people know they’re dating?”

Favorite response to a heckler or troll?

“That’s so crazy, I was just about to say the same thing to you!”

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

Sometimes being funny saved me from getting bullied. But also I learned how to laugh when I inevitably did get bullied.

Single word that always cracks you up?

Queef.

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

Just remember, your tits will only take you so far!

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

“BYE FELICIA!” Or alternatively “Thank YOU! I agree, I don’t think men are funny either!” And then if they try to repeat themselves, I walk away pretending I have Lotto tickets to buy.

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

Lucille Ball. (Admittedly I did google how to spell her name.) We watched I Love Lucy as kids and I think seeing how much respect my dad had for her really influenced my outlook on silly women. Even though it was farcical his admiration for her made it okay for me to like her too. #Daddyissues

It’s not an original answer, but something about aspiring to be an unorthodox version of greatness has always inspired my work. Thanks Dad!

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

Endlessly hustling and appreciating small victories. Sometimes its all you get! Also, survival? I’m not good at anything else!

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

The more I make my own material the more people book me and the more satisfied I feel about the work I’m making. Also go to all the events, meet people, NETWORK BEBE.

Feelings about the word “comedienne”?

I never took French and I’m not starting now!

 


Lorena was born inside of a Lorena, found inside another Lorena. She and all her clones have created content with BuzzFeed and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and also hosted Chipotle’s Snapchat channel! You can additionally find them all filming, writing, and performing on her comedy channel @Quesodigital as well as on a Magnet Theater Sketch team on Monday nights. Please contact Lorena if you want to make some “hahah” together or if you’re interested in being cloned.**

**Cloning not guaranteed

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Mini Q+A with…Jena Friedman

Jena Friedman is a stand up comedian, actor, writer and filmmaker. She is currently a correspondent for National Geographic Explorer and has worked as a field producer at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and written for Late Show with David Letterman. Her critically acclaimed stand up special, American Cunt, is now available on Amazon. Follow her.

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

I wasn’t able to do anything else. It was like an addiction.

What advice do you have for leveling up from open mics to shows?

Start your own weekly or monthly show, hustle to get audiences there, and build your own scene.

Describe your worst gig.

It was when I first started stand up, a guy shouted a really lewd comment at me and I just walked off stage. I’ve gotten better at dealing with hecklers since then.

Favorite response to a heckler or troll now?

“Hi mom.”

How has being funny helped you in your offstage life?

I have found that in almost every situation humor really helps defuse tension and bring people together.

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

My college advisor. She encouraged me to write my senior thesis on improv comedy. I don’t think I would have ever realized comedy could be a viable career choice if I hadn’t studied it first.

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

Better than it ever used to be!

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

Just do it.

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

To not wear high heels onstage. I don’t usually, but either way, it doesn’t matter.

Best comedy advice you ever got?

A manager once told me to “just do it.” He was probably quoting his sneakers because his company dropped me shortly thereafter, but it still resonates.


Jena Friedman is a stand up comedian, actor, writer and filmmaker. She is currently a correspondent for National Geographic Explorer and has worked as a field producer at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and written for Late Show with David Letterman. Her critically acclaimed stand up special, American Cunt, is now available on Amazon. Follow her.


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