Mini Q+A with…Rubi Nicholas

Rubi Nicholas has appeared on NickMom Network’s “Night Out” and “NickMom On…” series and has performed standup alongside comedy greats Judy Gold and Jim Breuer. She hosted the sold-out 2015 Lancaster City (PA) TEDx event in 2015 and then took it one step further with her very own TED talk at the 2016 live event. Follow her!


Favorite response to a heckler or troll?

I’m a Pakistani comic. I’d rather kill than bomb, sir, but you are making me want to change my mind.

 

Describe your worst gig.

I had driven over 4 hours to the western slope of Colorado when I was doing comedy in Denver. When I got to the gig, I realized it wasn’t just a Japanese restaurant. It was a Japanese restaurant with a table top hibachi. That meant that during my set, people were cooking their food, talking with the wait staff about how to cook their food, and just generally not about paying attention to the lady on stage. They had a show right in front of them; I was just background noise. As if that wasn’t bad enough, there was a large center table of only Spanish speakers. In my terrible fortune, I look like I might speak Spanish and they were mildly interested in checking me out until they just sort of shrugged and continued their loud conversation…I couldn’t even out heckle them. Awful. Just awful. But hey, at least it came with a really weird room in a Motel 6, though, right?

 

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

Your dick is bigger than theirs. I promise.

 

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

Knowing that comedy can dismantle stereotypes.

 

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

“Don’t wear suggestive clothing, it distracts the audience…”

Doesn’t really feel like “comedy advice” at all, does it?

 

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

I am one of those women who is deeply in touch with my inner Chad. I actually struggle with the notion that good comedy has anything at all to do with gender. It might take a little longer to break through getting booked, but staying funny, and staying on your grind is the only thing that works for any comic. To stay in comedy, one needs to be consistently funny. Being a comic in comedy is hard. Being a bad comic is worse. Meh, being a woman? We’re rising up actually and we are doing all right for ourselves, considering it’s only been an even playing field for oh, 2-3 years I’m guessing.

I’m more inclined to open doors for women through workshops, mentorship, writing together. I have 2 sisters and 2 daughters (full custody, no breaks)…my mother was a stay-at-home mom. My life is about women. I love being a woman, I love being a mom and I love being a comic. When you do something with love, with the knowledge that this is your calling, that there isn’t anything else that makes you feel perfect, it’s easy to brush off little slights along the way. Honestly, comedy has done more for me as a person than I can even express. It doesn’t matter to me if someone is not booking women at their room, I’ll move along and find another room—I love what I do and I know I’ll get booked.

 

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

As the only brown girl in my class, the weirdo that smelled of curry, the girl with the one eyebrow and mustache, I had a boatload of reasons to NOT be popular with the white kids that were the only other kids in the coal region in rural PA. Problem is, I’m an extraordinary extravert and love people so much all I wanted was acceptance and friendship. While I wasn’t pretty, or athletic or “normal” in so many ways, I was funny. Funny got me everything I’d ever wanted in school, friends, invitations to parties, a big peer group and even positive attention from my teachers at times.

Later I would learn to use stand up comedy as a tool, a mechanism to edit my life story and make it way less painful by making it relatable and funny. That is my comedy “why.” With my background, “sit down” and “shut up” were words I heard my whole life. When I started stand up, they said get louder, we want to hear you. It was a game-changer. Comedy allowed me to have my OWN voice. I am able to stand my ground in all other areas of my life because I no longer think of myself as unworthy of a voice. My voice is strong and powerful. I know that because I tried it out, and people listened….they still do. It’s a beautiful thing.

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

I wouldn’t be a comedian if it weren’t for a series of flukes. I was a working mom, living in the suburbs of Denver, CO when my then 6-year-old saw a commercial on Nick@Nite (we had it earlier on mountain time before you give me the side eye for letting my kid stay up that late, I see you). The commercial announced “Nick at Nite is looking for the Funniest Mom in America–could it be you?” So, when she saw that, Sophie said, “Mom, you should try out for that show.” So that was it–the jump-off!

 

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

Be consistently funny. Get up as often as you can in as many mics as you can. Once you know you are consistently crushing 10 minutes of material, start networking around the shows you want to be on. Ask your fellow comics that have shows if they would grant you a guest set. Crush the guest set. Always bring your A game to a show where the audience bought a ticket.

 

Feelings about the word “comedienne”?

I actually only see that word in writing. My inner feminist instinct is to raspberry at this word. My inner feminist is also 8 years old and recognizes this as nonsense. I’m a comic, full stop.

 


Rubi Nicholas has appeared on NickMom Network’s “Night Out” and “NickMom On…” series and has performed standup alongside comedy greats Judy Gold and Jim Breuer. She hosted the sold-out 2015 Lancaster City (PA) TEDx event in 2015 and then took it one step further with her very own TED talk at the 2016 live event. Follow her!


 

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