Mini Q+A with Joanna Parson
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?
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)