How to start your own comedy YouTube channel

Picture it. The date: Spring, 2015. The challenge: Fresh off a firing, I told myself to do something I enjoyed, even if it was not for money. The result: I launched “Stay Golden,” a YouTube channel of weekly original videos inspired by The Golden Girls. We’re talking mashups, interviews, rankings, lists and original scripted comedy (and more).

In the three years since that first video, I’ve produced over 90 videos, gained over 9,200 subscribers, started turning a profit, became a certified YouTube content creator, branched out to hosting Golden Girls Bingo in NYC, and got paying creative work. All of this came out of the channel that I still run today.

 

YouTube is a valuable platform for comedians at every stage in their career and should be in your creative arsenal. From showcasing your gigs to making your own content, YouTube will be a spotlight on all things you! With no money down, I’m going to give you the inside scoop on how to launch your channel in an hour or less. These are the basics to get rolling on YouTube.

 

What Kind Of Channel Do You Want To Be?: YouTube channels, like movies, tend to fall into categories. Stay Golden is a combination of comedy, entertainment, and vlogging inspired by the show. I make videos ranking every episode, mashups where “The Golden Girls” meet shows like “Game of Thrones,” and one epic five-hour loop of Dorothy Zbornak screaming “Condoms, Rose!”

 

The idea of a channel is to showcase your funny, your way. You could do comedic monologues, write and star in sketches on trending topics, develop a full-on web series based on your own life, or use the channel to upload videos of your live performances. And there’s so much more!

 

You can be one of these things or all of these things. The key here is to have a clear vision, at launch, of what you want to do that makes you feel confident and excited for your new channel.

 

Setting Up Your Channel: We can get this done in under five minutes.

 

  • Already have a gmail account? Congratulations, you are 50% done with this part already. Log into YouTube using your gmail address. Visit your account settings to change the name of your channel.
  • Don’t have a gmail, or want to make a new one for your channel? Go to YouTube.com and click “create new account.” Fill out all required information. Your email is not your channel name; the “first and last” name fields make up your YouTube handle.

 

The key here is your channel name as a part of the setup. If the channel is about you, whether it is vlogs or videos of performances, consider making it your name. If it is sketches, scripted shows, or other comedy, make it your show’s name. Pro tip: Be sure to search the name in YouTube first to see if its already in use. If you need to change it, you can do this anytime in Google+.

 

Channel Art: These will be the first two images viewers associate with your channel. There is your banner and thumbnail. Think of these two items as your visual business card. They work together to tell the story of you and your channel.

 

  • Thumbnail: Also known as your logo. When thinking about your channel, what is the image that comes to mind? “Stay Golden” uses our name and a picture of a slice of cheesecake. If the channel is all your stand-up material, use your face as the thumbnail.
  • Banner: I talk about Golden Girls all day. My banner is their faces with information about my show. Banners are larger than thumbnails and take up the top of the channel page. Use bold colors and uncluttered images to catch viewer’s eyes. Relate it to what you do. And keep it simple. If your comedy is all about kittens, don’t put your dogs in there too. It doesn’t make sense.

 

Remember more than half of viewers watch YouTube on their phone. Your art needs to be clear enough to look good on smaller devices. Pro tip: You can use free services like canva.com or snappa.com to make these graphics in a snap. They come with drag-and-drop templates, fonts, and styles.

Uploading Your Videos: Whether it is original content or a recording from your last five-minute standup set, the process is the same. After clicking the camera icon in the top right corner to upload your video and hit these four hot spots:

 

  • Video Title: You have to call it something. No video will ever get published on YouTube without one. Titles range from the silly to the straightforward. I like to number my videos so viewers know there are more out there to watch. Pro tip: Keep titles under 70 characters so they show up in searches without getting cut off.
  • Description: This is your area to chat it up! Tell people what the video is about. Plaster it with all your social media links and your website; tell people where they can find your next show.
  • Tags: These are search keywords related to this video and your channel. They help you show up in searches. Fun Fact: Don’t add too many tags a single video. If a video has more than 15 hashtags, it may get automatically left out or searches. We don’t want that.
  • End Screens: People are loving your videos. Laughing it up. Wanting more! Use end screens to give them what they want: More of your awesome content! End screens link directly to your other videos and encourage viewers to subscribe.

Promotion: Launching a channel will expose you to a brand-new audience you might not otherwise be in front of. To broaden your exposure, you should promote your channel across other social media platforms. Share your links on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (if you’re on them). Don’t overlook other options like Tumblr, Buzzfeed, and Reddit. For example, I post every new video in the Golden Girls subreddit and get tons of views. Pro tip: Remind people to subscribe to your channel whenever you link to it.

 

Why YouTube Is Important: Comedy is a hustle. I am constantly submitting to shows, pitching producers and trying to get writing published. Let’s be real. It can often leave you feel lonely, stranded, and rejected.

 

With Stay Golden, I don’t have to wait for acceptance. If I have an idea, I make it. YouTube means creating without permission. You don’t have to be booked to tell jokes or commissioned for a sketch. You set up a camera or your phone, do your thing, upload it, and make your own audience. You take control and power of your voice by making your own opportunities.

 

Stay Golden has over 1 million views, 99% coming from total strangers. I think about the shows where I’ve performed for an audience of nine people or how hard it can be to get friends to come out for a show on Tuesday at 11 pm. YouTube breaks down the barriers of time, location, and space.


Courtney Antonioli is a performer and storyteller living in NYC. She produces Stay Golden, a YouTube channel of original content inspired by The Golden Girls. She hosts monthly Golden Girls Bingo at QED and does too many Tough Mudders. You can find her at @stolafprod.

Mini Q+A with…Hanna Dickinson

Hanna Dickinson graduated from USC as a film studies major in 2014. During her senior year, Hanna started standup and, at six months in, made the top four in two college standup competitions. Upon graduation, Hanna hosted for Pauly Shore on his tour in various cities across the U.S. She continues to showcase at festivals and competitions across the country, including Comedy Central’s 2016 and 2017 Comics to Watch L.A. Showcase, and the San Diego Comedy Festival, where she won first place. Currently, Hanna lives in New York City and just wrapped writing on season 3 of Comedy Knockout on truTV. You can hear her album “Lactose Intolerant” on Sirius XM Rawdog Comedy. Follow her!


 

Describe your worst gig.

I drove twelve hours roundtrip to open for a guy in the back of a Hookah lounge. There were maybe 12 people there. I bombed.

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

Be funny.

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

If someone has the balls to say it around me, I laugh. It’s such an ignorant statement that I don’t feel the need to get defensive. The male comics who have said that are the least funny people I know. (I realize that sounds defensive.)

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

I love it. I’m still coming up (hopefully) and there are so many nights I want to quit, but I can’t. There’s nothing else I could think of doing with my life. I’ve never even had a wedding Pinterest.

Best comedy advice you ever got?

Don’t focus on other people’s success. In standup, you should be so unique that you can’t compare yourself to anyone else.

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

Wear overalls.

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

I’ve always been extremely anxious and hard on myself. It’s easy to not get worked up about things and see the bigger picture when you’re structuring it as a joke. Especially with dating, the only time I get upset about a guy is when my joke about him doesn’t land.

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

Molly Shannon in Superstar. I was obsessed with her physical humor. She was such a weirdo in that movie and I really related.

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

Avoid bringers! You’re wasting your friends’ money and they will never want to see you once you get on good shows. Do as many open mics as possible and comics will ask you to do their show. Also, start a show and book comics you like. If you’re funny and easy to work with, you’ll get booked. Instead of bringers, apply to festivals. A lot of festivals are wack but it’s a fun way to meet other comics even if the shows are sh*t.

Feelings about the word “comedienne”?

I don’t mind it, but it’s harder to spell.


Hanna Dickinson graduated from USC as a film studies major in 2014. During her senior year, Hanna started standup and, at six months in, made the top four in two college standup competitions. Upon graduation, Hanna hosted for Pauly Shore on his tour in various cities across the U.S. She continues to showcase at festivals and competitions across the country, including Comedy Central’s 2016 and 2017 Comics to Watch L.A. Showcase, and the San Diego Comedy Festival, where she won first place. Currently, Hanna lives in New York City and just wrapped writing on season 3 of Comedy Knockout on truTV. You can hear her album “Lactose Intolerant” on Sirius XM Rawdog Comedy. Follow her!

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!


 

How To Do Comedy: A Workshop For Girls + Others

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5 ways to fight stage fright: comedians’ edition

I felt my first twinge of stage fright at eight years old. I’d been performing since I was four, but it hadn’t yet occurred to me to be scared. I just knew that if I played “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” on my tiny violin, I’d get a chocolate bunny afterward. (My first “concert” was on Easter.)

 

But four short years later, something changed. I was playing my violin in the same local recitals, but my feelings were decidedly more intense. Now I had a visceral fear for my reputation and a burgeoning pre-pre-teen terror of looking idiotic, as well as a primal terror of being eaten for lunch by a roomful of strangers.

 

This was the beginning of real stage fright, and I feel the same way today, at 32.

 

It hasn’t stopped me from performing. I gave up the violin long ago (I was terrible, you’re welcome), but at times in my twenties I was doing five sketch comedy shows per week. I love performing, but it comes at a price. For some of us, stage fright is a lifelong scene partner.

 

I have not overcome it, but I’m learning to dance with it, “backwards and in heels,” like Ginger Rogers.

 

Here are my hard-won suggestions for performing with stage fright. I hope they help you feel more freedom onstage so you can perform with more joy!

Talk to one person

While performing, if I get too focused on the number of people in the room, I just pretend I’m talking to my best friend, Leah, because she is easy to please and will laugh heartily at even my stupidest joke. When you talk to one person in your mind, but in action you speak to a room of people, they will feel the intimacy of what you’re doing, and you will mitigate your terror of being eaten by marauding strangers. Imagine a hundred Leahs laughing at your jokes and cheering for you!

Make your goal bigger than your fear

What do you want from your audience? If you are running for class president (I hope you do!) and using your comedic chops throughout your campaign speech (I hope you do!), consider that you are persuading your audience to do something (to vote in their best interests!). Keep this goal at the front of your mind. Every time you get nervous and feel stage fright pull you under, return to the goal you set of persuading your audience. You can write the goal at the top of your notes to look back on when you’re scared. Your fear will pale in comparison to your commitment to the thing you most believe in.

 

Focus on…your feet

When I look back at my experiences of terror onstage, there’s one constant: My feet scrunch up and I forget that I am standing on a floor that is holding me. I feel instead like a floating head, cut off from air. Feel your feet planted and spread out in your shoes. Think about your feet before you get onstage, and return to your feet when fear starts to claim you.

 

Focus on…your tummy

When I experience stage fright, my lower belly stops moving altogether and my shoulders hunch. As you practice your stand-up or your song in the school play, make sure that you are thinking about your lower belly. As soon as it stops moving, you won’t be able to have any fun. Fun is very hard without breathing! As soon as your lower belly inflates, your shoulders will straighten. From that lifted, open posture, everything is possible again.

 

Practice makes…a little less stage fright

The best time to prepare for stage fright is while rehearsing. In your preparation, factor in stage fright. Create an environment similar to the one in which you’ll be performing. Make sure the above techniques are with you as you practice for the big day. The more you face your fear, the less powerful it will feel, like shining a light on the monster under your bed and finding out it’s actually that pile of mismatched socks you forgot about.

A final word

You are nervous because you care. How wonderful to be doing something, anything, that gives you butterflies! Here’s to your exciting life! For more about what stage fright is and why it happens to good people, check out this adorable animated TED talk.

 

Inspire us with your stage fright triumph stories by tweeting us @GOLDcmdy!


Emma TattenbaumFine is a comedy writer and actor who recently hosted HQ Trivia in front of nearly 400,000 people internationally. She was named a 2016 Comedy Central “Comic to Watch” and
a finalist in the truTV “Comedy Breakout” competition at the 2017 New York Television Festival. Emma was a staff writer on Almost Genius at truTV, and as an actor has collaborated with Al Sharpton, Reggie Watts, Aparna Nancherla, and Amy Poehler’s “Smart Girls at the Party”: writing for and then appearing in absurd sketches with them. Emma is a founding member of sketch group Political Subversities and the writing duo Ari and Emmawww.emmatattenbaumfine.com @emmatbomb on Instagram


How To Do Comedy: A Workshop For Girls + Others

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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!

How To Do Comedy: A Workshop For Girls + Others

An online course that's actually funny!

OMG! Sign me up!

 


 

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How to write a 5-minute comedy set

My first time on a comedy stage, I just got on stage and started talking.

THIS IS NOT RECOMMENDED.

I jumped from one topic to the next and back again like a kindergartener on a sugar high. One joke led into the next with no rhyme or reason. I was so all over the place that I forgot to do a bunch of the jokes I actually had written. (Ever listen to someone start to tell a long-winded story and realize 60 seconds in you’re not interested? That’s what minutes feels like to the audience if you aren’t prepared.)

I did get some laughs THANK YOOOUUU, but inside my head? Mostly screaming.

That’s how I learned the importance of preparation—and specifically, of writing not just a random string of jokes, but an actual SET, with a beginning, middle, and end. In other words, an outline. Think of your set outline as the track list of your favorite album.

THIS IS RECOMMENDED.

Here’s how.

First, here’s why you need a five-minute set

The five-minute set is the comedian’s bread and butter. Most open mics offer no more than five minutes on stage. Five minutes is also pretty much the maximum time a booker or producer will spend watching your tape. So your goal is to develop a “tight five” —five minutes of solid go-to jokes that show who you are and reliably get laughs. While five minutes might seem like a long-ass time, if you follow my outline process, it should fall together easily.

As you progress, you can blend several five minute sets together and before you know it, you’ll have a 20 minute set! Impressive.

Next, some vocab.

SET: Your collection of jokes, with a beginning/middle/end. It’s everything you plan to say onstage. People who don’t do comedy often call this a “skit.” NO.

BIT: An individual joke or small cluster of jokes/tags on the same topic.

CHUNK: Several BITS that all revolve around the same larger topic.

So, a SET contains CHUNKS, and CHUNKS contain BITS.

Or, JOKES make up BITS and BITS make up CHUNKS and CHUNKS make a SET.

Got it?

Now you’re ready to outline!

Ready, set, fill in the blanks!

  1. OPENER: Start with something that really introduces you personally, especially if there is something visual about you that stands out, e.g. unusual hair color, super bushy eyebrows, a parrot on your shoulder, etc. Acknowledge it right off the bat and the audience will forget about it and pay attention to YOU.
  2. CHUNK 1: Topic 1. Good for this to be something personal, too. Let them get to know you!
    1. BIT (funny)
    2. BIT (funnier)
    3. BIT (funniest)
  3. CHUNK 2: Topic 2: No need to segue between chunks. You can just start a new topic.
    1. BIT (funny)
    2. BIT (funnier)
    3. BIT (funniest)
  4. CHUNK 3: Topic 3: Can be related to an earlier topic…or not!
    1. BIT (funny)
    2. BIT (funnier)
    3. BIT (funniest)
  5. CLOSER: Could really be BIT IV D, but a callback, or just a killer joke you know ALWAYS works.

Tips for making it WORK.

The outline is not RIGID. You do you. That said:

  • Two to three CHUNKS is ideal for a five-minute set. More than three can be too packed and overwhelming; fewer can get boring.
  • Try to make the BITS in your CHUNKS build from funny (where you lay out the general direction of the joke) to funniest. This also means you’re working to wring as much funny as possible about any given idea.
  • Each CHUNK should be 90 seconds to two minutes long.
  • Save your most interesting/involved or, sorry vegans, really MEATY CHUNK for the end.
  • Bonus: using this outline will help you memorize the order of your jokes, because they will make internal sense to you. as well.
  • Take your outline with you to open mics. Even if you don’t get a full five minutes of stage time, you can pull out one CHUNK and practice that.
  • Once you get used to doing your set one way, rearrange it. See what new GOLD comes of just mixing things up.

Practice makes funnier—no such thing as “perfect” in comedy!—so play around until it works. Then play some more. THEN tweet at @GOLDcmdy to let us know what we can learn from you!


ELSA WAITHE (founding instructor) is a standup comedian from Norfolk, VA now living in Brooklyn, NY. Her comedy is a mix of lighthearted jabs but critical jabs at attitudes and issues around homosexuality and race—and herself. She’s been featured on This American Life, hosted the monthly comedy show “Affirmative Laughter” at The Experiment Comedy Gallery, and performs all over New York. @elsajustelsa


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Mini Q+A with…X Mayo

X Mayo is a comedy writer, and the founding member of an independent all-black, 11-person improv/sketch comedy team My Momma’s Biscuits. X and co-host Shenovia will be hosting Unsung Heroes Of Black History, the only Black History Month show premiering at Upright Citizens Brigade. You do not want to miss the show  featuring character bits and sketches written and performed by black comics you might have seen on Comedy Central, the CBS Diversity Showcase, Netflix, TV Land, MTV, Upright Citizen’s Brigade and more. It’s on February 22! Get your tickets now!


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

Be kind to yourself and protect your energy. Have clear boundaries. Boundaries aren’t walls to keep people out, they’re parameters to keep YOU safe!

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

Tell ’em, “BOY BYE!”

Best comedy advice you ever got?

“Ay yo X! Be YOU! People will love it!”

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

You can’t do more than one project at a time.

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

It’s helped me get out of a lotttttttt of traffic tickets!

Single word that always cracks you up?

Alopecia.

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

There are multiple comedians who inspired me (Whoopi Goldberg, Martin Lawrence, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Eddie Murphy, Lucille Ball and more) but when I saw Queen Latifah in Living Single, that was the first time I saw myself on screen. She looked like me, talked like me, walked like me — she inspires me to be a household name and pursue all of my dreams! In my mind I am Khadijah James.

 


X Mayo is a performer, writer, and the founding member of an independent all-black, 11-person improv/sketch comedy team My Momma’s Biscuits.

Photo via: Bijan Mejia

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Mini Q+A with Subhah Agarwal

Subhah Agarwal grew up in a small town north of Chicago where a teacher once gave up on pronouncing her name and decided to call her “happy.” This is a true story. Subhah was not happy. Subhah has since become a headlining comedian who has appeared on Comedy Central, Tru Tv, and MTV. She is currently writing on The Jim Jefferies Show for Comedy Central. Follow her.

Favorite response to a heckler or troll?

Make fun of what they’re wearing. I know, very highbrow stuff here.

Describe your worst gig. 

I did a show in a comedy club for a room full of tourists who were lied to and told Amy Schumer was going to be there. It was so quiet I could hear a napkin fold. Also the host forgot I was on stage so I did 20 minutes instead of 7. But I survived!

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

You will often not be give the respect you deserve. Believe in yourself.

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

It’s just unfounded bigotry.

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

The dream of creating a great special.

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

Russell Peters — the first Indian I ever saw do standup.

Feelings about the word “comedienne”?

I don’t take offense to it, but it is irritating that the word makes my job immediately differentiated and gendered in people’s minds.

Single word that always cracks you up?

Düsseldorf.

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

I’m grateful I know how to tell a story. It makes me better at parties.

Best comedy advice you ever got?

Go out and ask for things. No one will just give them to you.

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

“Do more Indian shit.” 😒


Subhah Agarwal grew up in a small town north of Chicago where a teacher once gave up on pronouncing her name and decided to call her ‘happy.’ This is a true story. Subhah was not happy. Subhah has since become a headlining comedian who has appeared on Comedy Central, Tru Tv, and MTV. She is currently writing on The Jim Jefferies Show for Comedy Central. Follow her.

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How to be funny on Twitter

Much like a receding hairline, social media is here to stay. Apps like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, LinkedIn and all the future ones inevitably invented by cyborgs—all hail Zorp!—are fundamentally woven into our social interactions. But with restrictions like 10 seconds or even 280 (?!) characters, there’s a lot of pressure to get so much in what can feel like so little…like trying on winter sweaters. On top of it all, people want you to be funny. FUNNY!? Help me, Zorp!! Well, as I say to my muffin tops, “Stop sweating,” because here are four steps to help you fit your funniest work into the tiniest spaces:

 

1. Find your message

Before you start dreaming about writing the best tweet in the history of Twitter, let’s start with the basics. Think about what you’re trying to say with your idea. This nugget does not need to be even slightly funny, just something you find amusing or strange or both. It can be a fact, an opinion, even an image you want to share.

Example: “I have short hair and get confused for a man.” Not inherently hysterical, but absolutely a stepping stone to a joke. Also very true to me.

2. Pinpoint the funny.

Now that you know your message, you need to dissect what you think is funny about it. This is absolutely up to you, as your “truth” and perspective are what make you unique. Consider yourself a comedic snowflake.

Example: “I have short hair and get confused for a man.” This is funny to me because women in society are of course marginalized, but as a “man,” I’m afforded privileges that women aren’t. So instead of suffering from the realities of sexism, I’m benefitting from them? *Awkward shoulder raise* Also, being misgendered causes very awkward social interactions.

3. Make it short. Now make it shorter.

Now that you understand your message and why it’s funny to you, it’s time to write out your joke in a concise and punchy manner. Think about being stranded on an island—and yes in this scenario we can all be Tom Hanks—and writing a letter in a bottle. You would need to maximize each sentence in order to provide the most information. Or figure out a way to write in a smaller font on Twitter. ZING! Regardless of whether you’re writing comedy/drama, words are a currency that fund your message. Always think, can I say the same thing in one word instead of two? Which is actually a great exercise to apply for joke-writing in general.

Example:

Good: “I have short hair and strangers confuse me for a white man. And because I’m a Queer Latina, I love feeling the benefits of white male privilege.”

Better:  “As a Queer Latina, nothing feels better than being mistaken for a White man.”

4. Do your research, then do you #YouAreBeautiful #ChristinaAguilera  

Take a look at some of the writing and stylistic conventions that funny people use on Twitter. For example: hashtags, the use of understatement, all caps for emphasis, all lowercase with no punctuation, sentences that get cut off on purpose, abbreviations like tfw and tbh, etc. Test some for yourself, and see what feels comfortable—all as delivery systems for your own humor. But the main thing is to practice practice practice. Nothing happens in a day. Heck, it took God seven to make the world and there were still some kinks. So go on, write some jokes in the safety of your own homes/phones. Because a phone has never called anyone “sir”….yet? All hail Zorp!

 


Lorena, was born inside of a Lorena, found inside another Lorena. Her and all her clones have created content with BuzzFeed, “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 Mondaynights. Please contact Lorena if you want to make some “hahah” together or if you’re interested in being cloned**

**Cloning not guaranteed

Mini Q&A with Kate Moran

Kate Moran is a comedian, writer, director, producer, painter, and actor based out of New York City. She wrote and directed the short film Are You Afraid of the ’90s? and is currently producing an “intersectional AF” all-female stand-up show, The Revolution, at QED Astoria.

Favorite response to a heckler?

Turn the tables by getting real personal and then shutting that sh*t down!

Describe your worst gig.

I did a bar show once when I was first getting started, there was literally no one in the crowd. I let my ego get the best of me and started drinking while waiting to get on, and once I got on, I was so drunk that I threw a stool across the stage. No one was hurt or even said anything, but in retrospect it was embarrassing and I vowed to never drink before a show again. It made me realize how much of this job, while it’s fun, is still a profession and professionalism outweighs over-imbibing every time.

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

Take care of yourself. You can’t come to the table with anything if you’re not at 100%, so take care of your physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental health. The tragic comic bit gets you only so far. Surround yourself with good people, eat well, sleep well, get professional help when needed, and be courageous to be truly, vulnerably you on-stage. That’s great comedy, that’s great art. And no one can touch that.

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

Keeping my head down and really focusing on my craft and my stories. Finding the humor in everyday life and discovering new and interesting ways to incorporate it into my set. My work is for me as much as it is for the audience. Working on comedy helped me work though my shame and turn it into truthful, impactful humor.

Best comedy advice you ever got?

Record every single set and listen back. Also, punch up, don’t punch down.

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

“Stay away from stories, sex, period jokes, politics.” I think the funniest material and the funniest comedians are the ones who are truthful and autobiographical. There’s something so genuine that the audience picks up on right away. If you speak your clever truth, anything can be funny.

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

It’s a great way to connect with others, I’ve always liked making people laugh. And I find that I’m able to be more myself, more honest, with humor. People don’t mind strong opinions from women so much if they’re laughing with you at the same time.

Single word that always cracks you up? 

Mahwah (the town in NJ) — I always shout it out when I pass a sign for it.

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

Margaret Cho. She was the first time I ever saw someone who looked like me and felt similar to me and talked like me on TV. It was life-changing and taught me that I’m okay: who I am and how I think and feel, is valid and real.

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

Work hard, don’t think that the open mics that are 90% white cis straight men are indicative of the real environment or the industry as a whole. Find your people, reach out to other women, queer, trans*, and POC comics when you are at shows together, exchange information. If you’re good, if you’re professional, the offers will come.

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

Who broke up with you?


Kate Moran is a comedian, writer, director, producer, painter, and actor based out of New York City. She wrote and directed the short film Are You Afraid of the ’90s? and is currently producing an “intersectional AF” all-female stand-up show, The Revolution, at QED Astoria.

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