How to write a (funny) cover letter

Let your humor shine through so they meet the real you.

I freaking love Glossier. I love it so much, I’ve brought every single one of my friends who visits NYC to their store, and I’m pretty sure a lot of the people working there know who I am by name. Plus, my friends always ask me about my favorite products and recommendations. I own every single flavor of their Balm Dotcom, use multiple Glossier products multiple times a day, and feel that I have earned the title “Glossier Queen.” Basically, the next step in my Glossier Journey™  would be to work for them. Or, maybe even better: get them to hire my mom (aka BEST Take Your Child To Work Day EVER). 

BACKSTORY/SPOILER: So I wrote a cover letter to Glossier about why they should hire me and my mom. From Glossier: crickets. WHAT? BUT! The founder of GOLD happened to see my letter, loved it, and hired me to write this article. So I did get a gig—and Glossier, I’m not giving up!

What’s so important about a cover letter? 

You are not a resume. You are a person. A cover letter is someone’s first impression of you, so it should show that you would be a good addition to the team—not only qualifications-wise but personality-wise. 

That’s why a cover letter doesn’t need to be meep morp robot-y. Stand out—be funny! From a decade (holy cow that’s a big number! Gimme an O! Gimme an L! Gimme a D!) of doing theater auditions, I’ve learned that you must stand out to be remembered by the director, which will increase the chance of you getting cast. For those of you who’ve had experience with theater, think of a cover letter as an audition. 

You want to be professional and show off your skills—and you want to stand out. Here’s how!

5 tips for using humor to make your letter sound human

Whether it’s for a summer camp counselor, baby food taste tester, or the CEO of a modern lifestyle brand that rhymes with “Doop,” here’s what you need to get your cover letter the attention you deserve.

1. Say hello! (to a real person)

Research the proper contact, and address them by name. No one wants to read a letter to “Whom It May Concern,” unless their name is Whom It May Concern. Once you know who they are, say hi! It’s nice. I like to say “Hello, name of person who you’re writing to!” with an exclamation point because it shows that I am excited to apply for this job and do good work! Just not too many exclamation points after that! I think you see what I mean!

2. Introduce yourself with ~pizzazz~

Tell them a little bit about yourself. Just a taste—like you have experience in something that relates to what you want to be doing. This is a good place to be authentically funny, or at least charming, if it feels natural. 

Here and elsewhere, this doesn’t mean you need to write an actual joke with a setup and a punchline and a clever tag. It’s more an opportunity to add a bit of very specific and colorful detail, like, if you’re me: “I own every single flavor of Balm Dotcom and am on my third Boy Brow.” (Humor is like ranch dressing. A little with some carrots, broccoli, etc. is good. Great, even! But most people are really weirded out when you just eat a whole lot of it with a spoon.) Also: this is not the place for self-deprecating humor, like “College was awful, like me!!1!1!1!1!!!!” 

3. But also be straightforward where needed.

People like people who make them laugh, but they also like people who are the right fit for the job with a good work ethic and passion. Be clear about:

  1. What gig you want.
  2. Why you want to work there: What are their values? Mission? Why work for them instead of somewhere else?
  3. What you can help them with: Childcare? Research? Taking over multinational corporations? Get specific about the tasks you are ready to roll your sleeves up to do.

This is where you show that you know when to be funny/charming and also when to get down to bizness.

4. Do! Not! Sell! Yourself! Short! 

When you talk about your qualifications, don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through, even as you aim to communicate concrete and important info. Try to paint a picture and describe, rather than just using Resume Words like “detail-oriented” or “self-starter.” Instead of saying you’re “super-organized,” you can say that you color-code your color-coding pens inside a color-coded pencil case. In other words, where it’s not too forced, show, don’t tell!  

5. End with a call to action

Tell whoever you’re emailing what you are hoping to get from them, other than a job: a response. For those of you who are new to writing cover letters, it sounds a bit strange to tell them to respond, but ya gotta do it. Schedule a Skype call or meeting IRL—just do what you’ve gots2do.

The easiest way is just to slide it in during the sign off.  Try “Looking forward to hearing from you soon.”

I’ll end by sharing with you my letter to Glossier. Maybe it will be helpful to you—or maybe they’ll see it here and reconsider. (See: I’m SHOWING, not just telling, that I’m “dedicated.”)

Good luck landing your dream gig—by being yourself!

Hello friends at Glossier!!

My mother and I are beloved fans of Glossier. Both of us would ~love~ to work at your company; alas she has had over two decades of startup experience, including “IPO” (her words, not mine), which was funded by the Lauder family, therefore she would be a better fit for a job. She is, as you probably just read, very experienced with high growth startups, but more importantly, awesome, innovative, and smart. I think she would make an excellent addition to your team. (LinkedIn:

Now let’s talk about me: I attended a year of school at Leaf Academy in Bratislava, which focuses on Entrepreneurial Leadership, focusing on design thinking. Through this program, I’ve helped to plan multiple events such as Model European Parliament SK, Startup Weekend Bratislava, Sensorium Digital Arts & Culture Festival, and Výťah Space Conference. In addition, I have extensive experience with social media (being Gen Z, of course).

This past year, I’ve discovered my passion for the environment and sustainability—specifically sustainable skincare and clothing brands. It is extremely important to me, as someone who will be alive to experience the effects of climate change, that lifestyle companies that use their power as drivers of how people go about their lives step in and take action towards climate change. 

I own every single flavor of Balm Dotcom and am on my third Boy Brow, I never go downtown without stopping by the Glossier store—I always bring my friends. In fact, most of my friends refer to me as something along the lines of “Glossier Queen” which is accurate. I attend school in Europe but will be home from July 1st to August 30th. If you wanted to hire me instead, I think my mom would be okay with that.

Our favorite Glossier products are Boy Brow, Lash Slick, and of course, Generation G in Leo, Jam, and Poppy.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read (or not – that’s okay too) this email. Although this is written in a jokey way, I really think she would be a great addition to the team. I would love nothing more than a “take your kid to work day” at the Glossier office.

If you would (hopefully!!) like to reach out to my mom, her LinkedIn is above.


     Margot Hulme

PS: This is not my mother writing this as a joke; it is me Margot (

Photo via: Glossier

Margot Hulme is a high schooler living in New York. Not upstate NY, but just outside New York City. When she’s not studying for the SATs (shoutout class of 2021), Margot is probably playing piano or browsing the King Arthur Flour catalog. Ya know, just for fun.

On being caught Manspreading

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Such singularity was found in him that many people refused to interpret the scarlet “M” by its original signification. They said that it meant “Marvelous,” or “Marsupial”; anything apart from the sin-stained frailty and passion of “Manspreader.”

When her elf-child had departed to gaze out the window at the never-ceasing loquacity of the dark tunnel, Hester replied, fervently resolved to buoy him up with her own energy, “Thou art crushed under this seven years’ weight of misery. But thou shalt leave it all behind thee! It shall not cumber thy steps as you treadest along the subway stairs; neither shalt thou freight the bus with it, if thou prefer to cross the traffic. Leave this wreck and ruin here where it happened. Meddle no more with it! Begin all anew! Be, if thy spirit summon thee to such a mission, the teacher and apostle of the close-legged men. Or as is more thy nature be a spreader and a sage among the wisest and the most renowned of the transportation world. Ride! Sit! Spread! Do anything, save to close legs and die! Up, and away!”

“O Hester!” he cried, in whose eyes a fitful light, kindled by her enthusiasm, flashed up and died away under the terror of the MTA, “thou tellest of boarding a crowded subway car to a man who is bearing airport luggage! I must close here! There is not the strength or courage left me to spread my legs into the wide, strange, difficult world, alone!”

He repeated the word.

“Alone, Hester!”

“Thou shalt not spread alone!” answered she, in a deep whisper.

Then, all was spoken!

Tim O’ Brien

A true MTA story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper straphanger behavior, not restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a MTA story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of moving room has been salvaged from the larger crowd, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie. There is no moving room whatever. There is no virtue. As a first rule of thigh, therefore, you can tell a true MTA story by its absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity and evil.

He put his hand on the closed-legged boy’s wrist. He was quiet for a time, as if counting a pulse, then he patted the stomach, almost affectionately, and used Kiowa’s hunting hatchet to remove the thumb.

Henry Dobbins asked what the moral was.


You know. Moral.

He wrapped the thumb in an old copy of AM New York and handed it across to Norman Bowker. There was a lot of blood. Smiling, he said, It’s like with that old game Subway Surfers. Have legs, will travel.

Henry Dobbins thought about it.

Yeah, well, he finally said. I don’t see no moral.

There it is, man.

Fuck off.

George Orwell

The station smelt of spilled coffee and old urine. At one end of it a coloured poster, too large for the usual advertisement space, had been tacked to the wall. It depicted simply an enormous man, more than a metre wide: the red face of a man of about forty-five, with a heavy slouch and ruggedly handsome spread. He made for the stairs. It was no use trying the escalator. Even at the best of times it was seldom working, and at present the line was long and crowded during daylight hours. It was part of the economy drive in preparation for Hate Week. His train was seven flights up, and Winston, who was thirty-nine and had a varicose ulcer above his right ankle, went slowly, resting several times on the way. On each landing, opposite the escalator, the poster with the enormous man gazed from the wall. It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. DUDE…STOP THE SPREAD, PLEASE, the caption beneath it ran.

He froze as O’Brien’s words coursed again through his mind. Almost unconsciously he traced with his finger on the pillar labeled “Wet Paint”:

Closed + Legs = MTA

The paint was dry despite the label. He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden inside the red figure. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two coffee-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved the MTA.

John Steinbeck

“You remember about us goin’ to that machine, and it give us Metrocards?”

“Oh, sure, George. I remember that now.” His hands went quickly into his side coat pockets. He said gently, “George . . . . I ain’t got mine. I musta lost it.” He looked down at the filth in despair.

“You never had none, you crazy bastard. I got both of ‘em here. Think I’d let you carry your own Metrocard?”

Lennie grinned with relief. “I . . . . I thought I put it in my side pocket.” His hand went into the pocket again.

George looked sharply at him. “What’d you take outa that pocket?”

“Ain’t a thing in my pocket,” Lennie said cleverly.

“I know there ain’t. You got it in your hand. What you got in your hand— hidin’ it?”

“I ain’t got nothin’, George. Honest.”

“Come on, give it here.”

Lennie held his closed hand away from George’s direction. “It’s on’y a man, George.”

“A man? A manspreading man?”

“Uh-uh. Jus’ a little red man figure, George. I didn’t paint it. Honest! I found it. I found it red.”

“Give it here!” said George.

“Aw, leave me have it, George.”

Give it here!

Lennie’s closed hand slowly obeyed. George took the man and threw it across the track to the other side, missing the electric rail and landing onto a few dropped chip bags. “What you want of a manspreading man, anyways?”

“I could try and close its legs with my thumb while we walked along,” said


“Well, you ain’t closing no manspreaders while you walk with me. You remember where we’re goin’ now?”

Lennie looked startled and then in embarrassment hid his face against his knees. “I forgot again.”

“Jesus Christ,” George said resignedly.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

I followed Daisy around a chain of loud teenagers to the yellow bumped line in front that warned us to stand behind. In its deep gloom we sat down side by side on an old bench carved with profanity. Daisy took her face in her hands, as if feeling its lovely shape, and her eyes moved gradually out onto the velvet dusk of the tunnel. I saw that turbulent emotions possessed her, so I asked what I thought would be some sedative questions about her little girl.

‘We don’t know each other very well,’ she said suddenly. ‘Even if we are cousins. You didn’t come to my wedding.’

‘I wasn’t back from my time as a spreader.’

‘That’s true.’ She looked at me absently. ‘Let me tell you what I said when she was born. Would you like to hear?’

‘Very much.’

‘It’ll show you how I’ve gotten to feel about—things. Well, she was less than an hour old and Tom was the MTA knows where. I woke up out of the ether with an utterly abandoned feeling and asked the straphanger right away if it was a boy or a girl. She told me it was a girl, and so I turned my head away and wept. ‘All right,’ I said, ‘I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a nonspreader —that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little nonspreader.’

After that summer the East was haunted for me, distorted beyond my Metrocard’s power of correction. And as I sat there brooding on the sticky bench, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first became a manspreader at the end of Daisy’s station. He had come a long way to this yellow line and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the underground, where the dark fields of the MTA rolled on under the night.

Gatsby believed in manspreading, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our thighs farther…. And one fine morning——

So we beat on, legs against the public, borne back ceaselessly into the spread.



J.D. Salinger

I don’t even like the MTA. I’d rather have goddam carpooling or a tram like the one to Roosevelt Island, but not if they have goddam anti-manspreading campaigns. I wish to God I’d have some transportation to respect. Always makes you feel phony as hell. But here I was, having to get a move on. There was no goddam other transportation near. You fall half in love with the MTA, and then you never know where the hell you are. Jesus Christ.

“I got my damn bags at the station,” I said. “Listen. You got any dough, Phoeb? I’m practically broke.”

“Just my Christmas dough. For transportation and all. I haven’t done any traveling at all yet.”

“Oh. I don’t want to take your Christmas dough.”

“Here,” old Phoebe said. She was trying to give me the dough, but she couldn’t find my hand.


She put the dough in my hand.

“Hey, I don’t need all this,” I said. “Just give me two bucks, is all. No kidding– Here.” I tried to give it back to her, but she wouldn’t take it.

“You can take it all. You can be a manspreader.”

“How much is it, for God’s sake?”

“Three dollars. No, two dollars and seventy-five cents. I spent some but made sure to leave enough for the subway.”

Then, all of a sudden, I started to cry. I couldn’t help it. I did it so nobody could hear me, but I did it. It scared hell out of old Phoebe when I started doing it, and she came over and tried to make me stop, but once you get started, you can’t just stop on a goddam Metrocard swipe.

Herman Melville

Consider the subtleness of the MTA; how its most dreaded creatures squeeze their legs together underground, unapparent for the most part, and treacherously hidden beneath the loveliest tints of manhood. Consider also the devilish brilliance and beauty of many of its most remorseless tribes, as the embellished shape of many species of teenagers. Consider, once more, the universal tension of the standing pregnant and elderly; all who are ignored or granted seats awkwardly and helped above each other, carrying on eternal war since the world began.

Consider all this; and then turn to the gentle and most docile thighs; consider them both, the publicity and the shame; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself? For as this appalling atmosphere surrounds the verdant leg, so in the soul of man there lies one insular Manspreader, full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all the horrors of the closeted stretch. MTA keep thee! Spread not off on that seat, thou canst never close!”

William Carlos Williams

so much depends


a triangular


glazed with phone


between the wide


Sylvia Plath

God’s lioness,   

How one we grow,

Pivot of heels and knees!—The furrow



Splits and passes, sister to   

The brown arc

Of the neck I cannot catch,



Black sweet blood mouthfuls,   


Something else



Hauls me through air—

Thighs, hair;

Flakes from my heels.




Godiva, I unpeel—

Dead hands, dead stringencies.



And now I

Foam to wheat, a glitter of seas.   

The child’s cry



Melts in the wall.   

And I

Am the arrow,



The dew that flies

Suicidal, at one with the drive   

Into the red



Eye, the cauldron of morning.


Michelle Chen is a poet, writer, and aspiring comedian who takes inspiration for her writing from the events that occur in and around her home, New York City, though she was born in Singapore and hopes to return and visit someday. Her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Bat City Review, and elsewhere, and been recognized by Ploughshares Emerging Writers, the Lancaster Writing Award for Literary Criticism, and the City College of New York Knopf Poetry Contest, among others. She has performed her work at venues including Lincoln Center, Sotheby’s, the National Arts Club, and the NYC Poetry Festival, and has attended writing workshops at Amherst and the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio with the support of the National Society of Arts and Letters. She is currently a senior at Hunter College High School and will be going to college in the fall. Visit her blog for ambitious youth at

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5 ways the internet has transformed comedy

Watch this clip! Download this podcast! HOW HAVE YOU NOT SEEN the latest episode of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee?!? Thanks to the internet, comedy is EVERYWHERE—and it’s pretty much always screaming at you to take your funny vitamins. Is that a good thing, or a bad thing, for both comedy and comedians? The answer: IT DEPENDS, OBVIOUSLY. Here are five key changes, according to me.

1. The internet makes performing easy.

In the immortal words of Aparna Nancherla: “Best part of internet: everyone has a voice. Worst part of internet: everyone has a voice.” In a comedy context, that means that the internet can help budding comedians—especially those in club-starved towns, or too young for THAT LIFESTYLE—find an audience, or help anyone with a YouTube account think they can become an overnight comedy sensation.

2. 140 characters is the soul of wit.

Or is it? Some, like Peter Serafinowicz, laud platforms like Twitter for forcing them to hone their one-line game. Others (see Martin Trickey) think this makes an audience too hard to work with the online audience craves instant gratification, and can only sometimes get it, leading to instant approval or dismissal of a performance.

3. It’s there…FOREVER.

The ability to replay and rewatch has led to increased scrutiny. That’s good, when it helps hold comedians like Tosh, Bill Maher, etc. accountable for inappropriate jokes. But it also opens up every last detail of a set for criticism. Internet hecklers don’t leave when the show’s over.

4. It makes for a bigger farm team.

Not every attempt to convert internet comedy to mainstream works (think Netflix specials like Haters Back Off). But comedians like Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer originally started out on a web series. That’s where HBO’s Insecure came from, too. The Internet might not make everyone a star, but it is fertile new ground for talent.

5. It opens virtual doors.

The internet is high on bias, but also pretty low on red tape. This means that folks who normally come up against barriers to entry in comedy (sexism and racism, say!) can produce and share their own work, set their own terms, and build their own audiences. Best part of internet: everyone has a voice!

Tell us what YOU think!Click To Tweet

GILLIAN ROONEY is a teenage comedian and writer based in Connecticut and an alum of GOLD Comedy’s pilot workshop series.

9 alternatives to PowerPoint that will really make your presentation sparkle

Groan! PowerPoint again? I don’t know about you, but I just hate the sinking feeling of walking into a conference room expecting something exciting to happen, and instead getting a bunch of slides telling you how much stuff costs and how that affects your company’s bottom line. Yawn!

Rather than trying to spice up your PowerPoint with comedy tricks and technical ka-zowie, why not look at alternatives to this purgatorial format? Marketers and business types across the globe are finding new ways to get information into the medulla oblongatas of meeting attendees. Now you can, too.

Power-Point Alternative #1: Mass Hypnotism

You want your information to have sticking power, right? Well, a little-known trick to successful implantation of thoughts, feelings, and impulses is the power of mind control. It’s easy: Simply have your meeting attendees kidnapped by Soviet and Manchurian operatives who brainwash them into believing every word of your presentation. If they ever forget, just show them the Queen of Hearts. (Am I the only one who saw this movie? Angela Lansbury. Not the remake. Classic. #TCMParty)

Power-Point Alternative #2: Scent of a Budget

Smells are a powerful memory tool. The reason for this is the location of the olfactory … things … in the hippocampus, which is in the … brain … part. Anyway! Science!

So: During your presentation, don’t bother with visual assets. Instead, pass out individual-sized jars of Carmex and instruct everyone to open them up and inhale deeply while you speak. Whenever you need them to call up the information you’re presenting to them, open your own jar of Carmex and wave it under their noses. The scent will immediately call up every precious word you presented to them.

Power-Point Alternative #3: Hand-Written Sticky Notes

Just yesterday, someone said to me, “I’ll never forget those invitations you made for your thirtieth birthday party. They were so funny!” Hm, did someone say unforgettable?

Instead of pouring your energy and time into a soulless and sterile tech solution that will vanish with the click of a mouse, ladle it instead into individually-crafted artisan creations that your attendees can take back to their desks and cherish forever. What’s more likely –  that they’ll go hunting for the data using command-C, or that they’ll look up at the Post-It pinned next to their picture of their duck-faced friend, thereby cementing the info contained therein?

Don’t answer. It’s rhetorical.

Power-Point Alternative #4: Create a Mind Palace of Your Marketing Plan

Fans of Sherlock, starring Schmendrick Mahumperback, might know that the classic detective character – played by Humperdink Tunnelwreck in the BBC version – employs a memory trick called the “mind palace” that harkens from ancient Greece.

The idea is to place every item you want to remember in an imaginary room of an imaginary house; to recall these items, you would “walk through” the path you created and peek into each room to “see” the item ensconced there. Just like Hammerhead Flagglerock, you can “walk” your meeting attendees through a mansion created solely out of your sales targets and associated assets. Easy-peasy benedy-cumberbeedy!

Power-Point Alternative #5: Take 8 Seconds to Make Your Most Important Points

According to unsubstantiated rumors, it takes 8 seconds to commit an important fact to memory. For instance, you will remember where you parked if you pause for 8 seconds to focus on your car before racing into Target.

8 seconds! C’mon! If Luke Perry can stay on a horse that long, you can focus on a … what was I saying? Anyway, try this: Give out an important bullet point, such as “Tablet users surpassed both desktop PC users and notebook PC users in the second and third quarters of 2012, respectively.”

Rather than providing a visual cue for this information, stop and let it sink in. Lean in to your meeting. Put your knuckles on the table, then rap upon it in a staccato fashion as you repeat that fact, slowly, for eight seconds. Then move on to the next bullet point. Who could forget that?

Power-Point Alternative #6: Break The Ice – Literally

Ever been to one of those super-classy weddings with an ice sculpture of a couple embracing next to a pair of swans lit with mauve light from below, so that after a half hour the whole thing looks like the nazi-melting scene in Indiana Jones and the floor is so wet you have to cordon it off with yellow caution tape? Good times.

With that in mind, go straight to the head of your department and demand a budget big enough for a really memorable presentation. Have your power point slides etched into ice. Have that ice placed at the center of the conference table. Then, when everyone is seated, turn your iPhone on to “Eye of the Tiger” at top volume, run in, and smash the whole thing with a meat-tenderizing mallet. Think anyone will forget that meeting? Bam.

Power-Point Alternative #7: Serve Brain Food

People looking to improve their memory are encouraged to eat foods high in Vitamin E, folic acid, and Omega-3 fatty acids. So instead of donuts, serve bowls of tuna fish, spinach, and sunflower seeds at your next meeting. Your attendees’ cardiologists will thank you – and so will they, when they see how well they remember everything you said.

Further research shows that increased exercise also has a beneficial effect on memory retention, so go ahead and have that meeting at the gym, with everyone walking on treadmills arranged in a circle. Stand in the center and spoon tuna into everyone’s mouth as you give your PowerPoint-less presentation. Oh, they’ll remember it, all right.

Power-Point Alternative #8: Tell Your Story Entirely In Emoji

Many companies are pivoting to a millennial model – providing vertical assets to digital natives in a collaborative environment. Obviously, the ideal “meeting presentation” would be a Snapchat story shared with your team, but we all know there are certain fuddy-duddies who still can’t hang, amirite? So harness the power of visual stimulation to make your attendees think – which will amplify your points by requiring multiple senses to understand them.

👀 ➕🗣🔝🤔🌟

Power-Point Alternative #9: Use an Actual Slide Projector

What was more riveting than seeing Don Draper deliver an impassioned defense of the slide carousel? Everyone wants to be Don Draper. Even Jon Hamm wishes he were Don Draper, for crap’s sake. So create PowerPoint slides, sure – but then send them to an online vendor (oh, they exist) to be printed on acetate slides suitable for projection. When they arrive, call your meeting and give your presentation using your smoothest, most patriarchal tone. Then fly into a rage and shove everything off your desk because RAAR DON DRAPER!

With these amazing strategies in your quiver, you’ll be sure to hit the bullseye at your next corporate presentation. If not, don’t blame me! I work from home for a reason!

Read Amy’s bio here.

Mini Q&A with Allison Summers

Allison Summers is an improviser, comedian, and writer based out of Nashville, TN. She has written for theBerry and has performed with the Second City, iO West, and with the Upright Citizens Brigade. Her one-woman show, Collections, is currently running at Third Coast Comedy Club.

Favorite response to a heckler?

I’m sorry you’re hurting on the inside. Which parent didn’t love you? Oh shit, was it both?

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

Fuck it and fuck them. You are enough.

Best comedy advice you ever got?

You will never be able to make everyone in the audience laugh.

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

Moving to Nashville will kill my comedy career.

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

I am in the recovery community and I teach improv to recovering addicts and alcoholics. It has helped me find a way to be of service to that community and help those who are struggling learn how to laugh again.

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

I had really great teachers at The Second City who were very encouraging. My closest friends were involved in comedy as well so it was the biggest part of my life and community.

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

It’s a tie between Viki Lawrence and Damon Wayans. I loved Mama’s Family and really believed that she was this old woman and Damon Wayans put together this brilliant and edgey show that housed amazing comedians. It was my dream as a child to be on In Living Color.

Feelings about the word “comedienne”?

I have never heard this before, I had to google it. After knowing what it is for twenty seconds- I hate it.

Allison Summers is an actress and writer performing and working in Nashville, Tennessee. She is a graduate of The Second City Conservatory, IO West, and UCB Theatre. She has written for the female version of theChive, theBerry, and her one woman show, “Collections,”  has been performed at Out Of Bounds Comedy Festival in Austin, Women in Comedy Festival in Boston and Los Angeles. Currently, she teaches improv classes at Third Coast Comedy Club in Nashville.

CARSEN SMITH (intern, branding and content) performs standup and improv in New York City. She co-created the improvised cooking show “I’ll Have What She’s Having,” which ran at Nashville’s Third Coast Comedy Club. @carsenasmith

Mini Q&A with Abby Sher

Abby Sher is a comedian, improviser, and author currently living in New Jersey. She was a member of the celebrated Second City comedy troupe in Chicago, before moving to Brooklyn, New York, and becoming a freelance writer. Her latest book ALL THE WAYS THE WORLD CAN END is available everywhere. Not to mention she’s a friend of GOLD Comedy!

Favorite response to a heckler?

Hey, is that my rabbi?

BRIEFLY describe your worst gig.

Doing a comedy show at a country club and for our intro they announced all the members who had recently died.

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


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

Start making monkey noises and throwing things.

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

An old grumpy man who told me to stop being small.

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

Vaginas have all the fun.

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

Gilda Radner – her wild leaping into walls, her Jewess jeans and gum smacks. Her raw honesty.

Feelings about the word “comedienne”?

Needs to come with cheese to be worthwhile.

Abby Sher is a writer and performer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times,Self, Jane, Elle, and Redbook. She is also the author of Breaking Free: True Stories of Girls Who Escaped Modern Slavery, Amen, Amen, Amen: Memoir of a Girl Who Couldn’t Stop Praying, and Kissing Snowflakes. Abby has written and performed for the Second City in Chicago and the Upright Citizen’s Brigade and Magnet Theater in New York. She lives in New Jersey with her family.

Twitter: @abbysher

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CARSEN SMITH (intern, branding and content) performs standup and improv in New York City. She co-created the improvised cooking show “I’ll Have What She’s Having,” which ran at Nashville’s Third Coast Comedy Club. @carsenasmith

Unsuccessful portmanteaux

MEMO from the International Ministry of Wordthings 
Head Minstress Amy Keyishian

It has come to our attention that many of you are overusing the portmanteau option. Please be advised that we are limiting use of the portmanteau until you all get this under control. This means you.

To review, “black” + “actor” = “blacktor.” This is the Platonic ideal of the portmanteau. It takes up less space, it is efficient, it contains no internal caps, and it is pleasing to the ear. Please note the final bullet on this list: pleasing unto the ear, fellow citizens. Ugly portmanteaux are not helpful and are therefore an abomination.

Peruse this list of verboten word combinations and consider them with sober aforethought before bandying about this most precious and vital linguistic resource.

  •      Flow + chart ≠ flart
  •      Book + club ≠ blub
  •      Chardonnay + party ≠ chardonnarty (this will get you expelled.)
  •      Party + hardy ≠ pardy  (are you kidding us?)
  •      Vaginal + atrophy ≠ vatrophy
  •      Cranberry + applesauce ≠ crapplesauce
  •      Peanut + butter ≠ peabutt
  •      Mango + chutney ≠mutney
  •      Elevator + operator ≠ elevoperator
  •      Canada + Washinton ≠ Canoshington
  •      CD + single ≠ C-dingle
  •      iTunes + playlist ≠ iTunafish  (now you’re just off the chain)
  •      Twin Peaks + freaks ≠ tweaks
  •      Palpebral + fissure ≠ palprissure

Addendum A: These are allowed only if used ironically. If we can’t detect a wink, you must rethink.

  •      Granny + panties = granties
  •      Presidential + pardon = prizzardon
  •      Hogwart + nerd = Hogwerd = HAGRID REALLY IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT

Addendum B: Verboten Portmanteaux of Celebrity Couples:

  •      Jared + Ivanka ≠ Javanka
  •      Brad + Sienna ≠ Brienna (just sounds like the most popular baby name at the trailer park)
  •      A-Rod + J-Lo ≠ AJ, RodLo, A-Lo, or any other combination
  •      Kylie + Travis ≠ Kylass
  •      Dev + Tilda ≠ Dilda
  •      Rooney + Joaquin ≠ Roonaquin (willing to reconsider)
  •      Selina + The Weeknd ≠ Seliknd
  •      Ellen + Portia ≠ Ellortia
  •      Goldie + Kurt ≠ Goldirt


  •      Jenny Slate + Jon Hamm = Slamm (OBVIOUSLY HOLY GOD IS THIS A THING?!)
  •      Beyoncé + Jay = BeyJay (WHAT WHY HAS THIS NOT BEEN DONE BEFORE NOW)

Please contact the ministry via owl or smoke signal if you have any questions.  

Read Amy’s bio here. 

Mini Q&A with Cathy Ladman

Cathy Ladman’s show is a self-probing vehicle which draws laughter from exposing personal neuroses. She has not only appeared on “The Tonight Show” nine times, but was also the only female comic to appear on the last two of Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show Anniversary” shows. She’s made four appearances, thus far, on “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” did her own HBO “One Night Stand” comedy special, and was awarded the American Comedy Award for Best Female Stand Up Comic.

Favorite response to a heckler?

It seems like you don’t get enough attention in your life. I think I know why.

BRIEFLY describe your worst gig (noting that you survived).

About a year into my doing standup, I was onstage, the audience chattering got louder and louder, and finally, people began throwing things onstage. I said, “Thank you,” and left the stage. Note: NEVER say, “Thank you,” to an audience that throws things at you!!!!!

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

“Wow. You’re still saying that? Poor you.”

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

My mentor, who told me that tenacity was 99% of everything.

Best comedy advice you ever got?

Don’t worry about who you are onstage for the first year or more. Just get as much stage time as you can.

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

You need to get dirty for certain crowds. “Throw in a few ‘fucks.'”

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

People are always attracted to funny people. You can get your message across so much more easily when it’s funny and entertaining.

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

Mike Nichols & Elaine May’s album, “Nichols & May Examine Doctors.” I was drawn to it at about 8 years of age. It was an innate response. I just got it. And I watched all the standup comics on Ed Sullivan and decided that that was what I wanted to do. Robert Klein and George Carlin. Thinking comedians all.

Feelings about the word “comedienne”?

HATE it. We’re not the diminutive version of a comic. We’re comedians, or comics.

Cathy Ladman is an acclaimed television and film actor. Her film credits include “Charlie Wilson’s War,” “The Aristocrats,” and “White Oleander.” Her TV appearances include “Mad Men,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and “Everybody Loves Raymond.” She’s done several TV pilots, including “Caroline in the City,” in which she had a recurring role, and a bunch of others that barely saw the light of day (or night). She also appeared regularly on ABC’s “Politically Incorrect” and Comedy Central’s “Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist.”


Twitter: CathyLadman

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CARSEN SMITH (intern, branding and content) performs standup and improv in New York City. She co-created the improvised cooking show “I’ll Have What She’s Having,” which ran at Nashville’s Third Coast Comedy Club. @carsenasmith

How to write jokes: use our patented set of comedy “wrenches”

As you know, the punchline of a joke is the surprise. The switch, the twist. But what KIND of surprise? What direction is the twist?

Or, if you think of the shift from setup to punch as where the comedian throws a wrench into the joke, this is about what KIND Of wrench it is.

Let’s look at the most common wrenches that comedians have in their toolkits. I’m using one-liners for the clearest examples, but wrenches are at work in almost any type of joke.

OPPOSITE wrench.

  • Emika: “I love to inspire people [SETUP]. I also love to see them fail [PUNCH].”
  • “I believe that each person can make a difference [SETUP], but it’s so slight that there’s basically no point [PUNCH].” —Lauren Lapkus
    • These jokes go in the exact OPPOSITE direction from what you expected. (Inspirational/cynical; positive/negative)

WORDPLAY wrench.

  • “I got my hair highlighted [SETUP], because I felt some strands were more important than others [PUNCH].” — Mitch Hedberg
    • Hedberg takes a wrench to the word HIGHLIGHTED. Highlighting hair turns into highlighting like you do with a book. So it’s a good old fashioned wordplay wrench.
    • You could also call it an ABSURD wrench.

ABSURD wrench.

  • “I’m a lousy cook. I burn sushi.” —Joan Rivers
    • Rivers uses an ABSURD wrench to how just how bad a cook she is, because you don’t cook sushi in the first place.
  • You could also call this an EXAGGERATION wrench.
  • “So I met my boyfriend’s parents recently, which stressed me out. Because he’s white, so his parents are white. Hate when that happens. Why can’t it just skip a generation?” —Phoebe Robinson
    • Phoebe Robinson uses an ABSURD wrench — race can’t skip a generation — to underscore how un-psyched she is to meet her boyfriend’s white parents, and generally how stressful situations like that are. “Hate when that happens” is also absurd. He’s white because his parents are. It didn’t just “happen.”


  • Sasheer Zamata, hating that women are expected to be un-hairy: “I found out that Native Americans would keep all their hair long because it helped them with battle and hunting. It made them more aware of your surrounding, and if something was coming to attack you you would feel it and sense it quicker. So if that’s the case, women—of all people—should have ALL OF THE HAIR. We’re at risk of being attacked just for walking out of our house. For safety purposes, I want to be Chewbacca-level hairy.”
    • Chewbacca is as hairy as you can get. (Also a funny word.) Women will not actually get that hairy if they don’t shave, so, exaggeration.
  • Here’s GOLD student Romaissaa on her obsession with YouTube: “I  can’t breathe air without knowing my favorite YouTuber’s opinion on breathing air.”
    • Do we think that’s actually true? No. But the exaggeration effectively illustrates her obsession.




  • “I broke up with my girlfriend. She moved in with another guy, and I draw the line at that.” —Garry Shandling
    • He’s using an UNDERSTATEMENT wrench because for him to “draw the line” at her OBVIOUSLY breaking up with him is a tiny reaction to a huge move. What’s great here is that he uses that understatement to make fun of himself.
    • “I don’t know if you’ve ever been sad on a roller coaster. It’s doable.” — Ryan Hamilton


  • Thea: “I am not just a nerd [SETUP]. I am also a geek [PUNCH].”
    • You thought Thea was going to say I’m more than “just” a nerd. Instead she doubles down.
  • “I get so frustrated when people think I’m trying to look like Ellen Degeneres [SETUP]. It’s so frustrating because I’m trying so hard to look like Nick Carter [PUNCH].” —Emma Willman
    • You expect Emma to to say she’s frustrated because she’s not trying to look like anyone! But she’s like, I AM trying to look like someone. Just someone ELSE. (She’s taking the wrench to “Ellen DeGeneres” rather than “trying to look like.”)
  • “It wasn’t that no one asked me to the prom. No one would tell me where it was.” —Rita Rudner
    • You think she’s going to say…LOTS of people asked me to the prom. But then she doubles down on not being asked. They hid the entire prom from her.

So, when you’re writing a joke, you can look at your topic or setup and ask yourself: what kind of wrench could I throw in here? Play with different ones and see what works.

1. TOPIC/PREMISE. What you want to talk about…PLUS

2. ATTITUDE/EMOTION. How a person with your persona would feel about it…PLUS

3. TYPE OF JOKE. Which type of joke would best match what I want to say?

4. TYPE OF WRENCH. Which type of wrench will make the joke work best?

Read Lynn’s bio here. 

6 tips for doing YouTube comedy with zero budget

Youtube has launched the careers of many new-wave comedians, i.e. The Lonely Island, Good Neighbor Stuff, and even the hilarious career of Canadian bunny rabbit Justin Bieber.

Sydney Heller and Olivia DeLaurentis are two more comedians using the platform to spread their funny. The LA-based performers make up the comedic duo Barely Legal Comedy, WHICH IS SERIOUSLY NOT DIRTY WE PROMISE COME BACK HERE. They run their own YouTube channel, perform improv together, and recently completed their first web series, “Sugar Babies.”  Sydney and Olivia hopped on the horn with GOLD to offer their advice on how to be online funny on a budget.

1. Even the randomest bits can become a premise.

Sydney: For sketches, ideas usually come from an inside joke we have. Like some sort of bit we’re doing while eating.

Olivia: Yes. A disproportionate amount of comedy comes from us going out and getting food and then doing a really stupid bit and then laughing at it in like a restaurant and making other people uncomfortable. That’s a sketch, and then we’d go write it as fast as we can. We came up with “Sugar Babies” in this store in Beverly Hills that had these weird stuffed llamas for like $700, and we were joking and being like, “If I had a sugar daddy, I wouldn’t have them pay for a car, I would want to buy this alpaca.” And then we went, “Well, that’s a webseries now!”

Sydney: We drove home and started mapping it out.

Olivia: By the time we got to her house, which is like a 20 minute drive, we had all the principal characters planned out.

2. Collaborate.

Sydney: The thing that’s fun about working within a duo instead of working by yourself is that you come up with ideas faster, especially when you’re on the same page, and can riff off each other.

Olivia: When you’re alone you really have the time and ability to doubt your ideas and doubt that you’re funny. You can push past that, and should, but if you’re in a room with someone that you think is really funny and they’re laughing at something you said, then you’re like, “Oh yeah, this is funny!” You can get things done much faster.

3. Don’t be afraid to reach out to comedians you don’t know.

Olivia: The internet is such a cool thing right now in terms of reaching out to people. YouTube comedians are usually more accessible than you think. If you find someone that you think is funny, then there’s no harm in reaching out. People will at least talk to you and give you advice, or maybe you could collaborate on something. Don’t be intimidated!

4. Make production lean and mean.

Olivia: Our budget is virtually nothing. I bought my own camera so I’d never have to rely on another camera person or DP [director of photography], and it’s actually been really useful because we’ve been using this camera for the whole series. When filming we try to move fast and just do a couple of takes because we know exactly the kind of takes we want. There’s not a big crew, usually about two people maybe, so there’s not miscommunication between people. Sydney and I edit everything together on Premiere.

5. Being DONE is better than being PERFECT.

Olivia: It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be done. It’s so easy to go, “I have this great idea, but it’s not exactly perfect.” If we did that, we would make sketches every now and again. Every five months or so we’d put out a sketch. But we started making stuff faster with the mindset that it’s not going to be perfect because we’re two broke girls who don’t have a giant crew.We’re not funded by anybody. If you’re trying to make the most perfect thing in the world but don’t finish it, you don’t have anything. But if you make ten things that are not perfect, but it was fun and shows your sense of humor, then that is much more practical and useful to your career in comedy because no one, especially if you’re young, expects it to be 100% perfect.

Sydney: It’s about making the thing and not about talking about making it.

6. Do what makes YOU laugh.

Sydney: If you have access to a way to watch comedy, I think you can learn so much from watching. Let’s say you watch three different shows. If you find the common thread in each of those shows that makes you laugh really hard, then you’ve found your style—the thing that makes your voice unique.

Olivia: Don’t worry too much about how something will be received. Have confidence in yourself and “do you.” There’s not a single thing you can do that will get 100% positive response, so don’t even worry about any of the response (unless, if course, it’s actually helpful).

Sydney: There are a lot of schools for comedy and ways to learn comedy, but at the end of the day, what you find funny is the thing you have to stay true to.

Olivia: What you find funny is what you should make, and hopefully you’ll find other people who find it funny. The biggest thing is: when it’s on the internet, just do the thing you think is fun.

Youtube Channel: Barely Legal Comedy

Twitter: @BarelyLegalCom

Want to read the full interview? Click here!

NAOMI PITT (intern, T.A., social media) is a comedian, musician, and lover of all things cheese. @pittisbananas