Mini Q+A with Veronica Dang

Veronica Dang is an award-winning director/actor/writer and comedian. You may have seen her on TV or teaching people about Yellow Fever at comedy clubs around NYC. Check out her webseries Subway: The Series, which is on Marie Claire’s list of “Webseries You’ll Want to Ditch Netflix for.” She also started NYC’s 1st Asian American sketch comedy team Model Majority. Their live shows have been on Timeout NY’s list of “Best Comedy Shows in NYC.” 


Favorite response to a heckler or troll?

When I do standup comedy, most people feel sorry for me so they don’t heckle. But if they did, I would just say “Mom and Dad, I’m so glad you finally came to see me!”

Describe your worst gig.

I was a costumed mascot for a famous children’s cartoon character at a public park event in 90+ degree weather. I couldn’t see, had trouble breathing and moving in a large, heavy costume with big head and feet. I wasn’t allowed to talk but had to do photo ops (where adults can be a bit handsy), play tennis with two thumbs, and dance battle while baking in my own sweat all day.

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

Eat whatever you want and keep doing comedy no matter what other people say. Comedy world doesn’t need more privileged mediocre white heterosexual males with mommy issues.

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

Walk away. I don’t need that kind of stupidity in my life.

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

The world is messed up and I need comedy to help me deal with it. It also really helps to create your own work, that’s why I make my own films which have won awards 😉 and started NYC’s first all Asian-American sketch comedy team, Model Majority.

Best comedy advice you ever got?

Always be doing comedy and you won’t actually die on stage.

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

Replace all minorities and women in your script with white men.

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

I don’t know. What is it like to be a man in comedy? It seems like a lot of dick and pedophilia “jokes.”

Feelings about the word “comedienne?”

I prefer comedian but will accept any label that indicates I’m funny and doesn’t use racial slurs or insults.

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

Helped me avoid being bullied and beat up.

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

Produce your own shows/work and make friends with people who know bookers or have own shows.

What single word always cracks you up?

manamana

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

Not one person, but one entity. My family inspired me to be a comedian because I needed a way to complain about them without them knowing.

 

Photo via: Leslie Hassler


Veronica Dang is an award-winning director/actor/writer and comedian. You may have seen her on TV or teaching people about Yellow Fever at comedy clubs around NYC. Check out her webseries Subway: The Series, which is on Marie Claire’s list of “Webseries You’ll Want to Ditch Netflix for.” She also started NYC’s 1st Asian American sketch comedy team Model Majority. Their live shows have been on Timeout NY’s list of “Best Comedy Shows in NYC.” 

Mini Q+A with Kelsey Caine

Kelsey Caine is a beautiful New York comedian and writer originally from Texas. Her family describes her comedy as, “Stop telling jokes about us. It hurts your brother’s feelings.” She is most well known for her viral satirical character Penis C.K., who’s making fun of exactly the sex offender you’re thinking of. Kelsey is a New York Times contributor, a Miss New York USA pageant state finalist, and a controversial performance artist. Kelsey is a graduate of The New School with an MFA in Creative Writing, double majoring in Writing for Children and Nonfiction. Inspired by the #MeToo Movement Kelsey began advocating for sexual assault education in schools, focusing primarily on all-boys schools. She is writing a book on the topic entitled “What To Do With #MeToo” represented by Sarah Phair at Trident Media Group.


Favorite response to a heckler or troll?

Since I’ve been doing stand-up as my beloved satirical character Penis C.K., who’s mocking exactly the sex offender you’re thinking of and all sex offenders, my favorite thing to say to trolls on the internet that say they hate Penis C.K. is, “Yeah, that’s a good thing. He’s a sex offender.”

 

Describe your worst gig

I’ve had some people leave during Penis C.K., which I totally understand. Especially if you’ve experienced sexual assault, then I’m sure it’s hard not to think about your own experience. And for that I’m truly sorry. I’m a sexual assault survivor and my intent is to try and help bring attention to the very common sexual assault that people face everyday and are told not to talk about, not to trigger survivors. I’m trying to trigger sex offenders into seeing the pain they’ve caused. I say that very clearly during my performance. Most audiences get what I’m doing and like Penis C.K. I’ve mostly had great shows audience wise, but Penis C.K. has deeply upset some comedians. My worst show was definitely being hate Instagram storied by another comic on a show. He didn’t watch my full set, but he really hated the concept. He didn’t think it was what stand-up comedy should be and wanted me to stop. It was really strange because I had never met him before, and he was so mad at something he didn’t even fully watch. You can totally hate Penis C.K. There’s a lot of comedy that I hate. But I would never tell another comedian what to do, except not sexually assault anyone.

 

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

Don’t acknowledge them.  Block them.

 

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

I’m really funny. I know it. It’s just true. Everything else is just practice.

 

Best comedy advice you ever got?

Open with your best joke. Then the audience will trust you and think all of your jokes are that good, but it’s a trick. You tricked them! The rest aren’t as good, but they’ll never know.

 

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

I should dress hotter. My mom said it, but still.

 

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

I tell them the truth, it can be horrible. Why do you think so many comedy legends are sex offenders? There’s no HR in comedy, and there are so many stupid fucking boys who legitimately think harassing people is okay or even funny. I know rapists who are national headliners. It’s terrifying. But that’s not everyone. There are also great people in comedy. Who are kind and funny and make it worth it to be a woman in comedy.

 

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

Being funny has always helped me. I couldn’t read until I was nine. Because I have dyslexia. And being funny really helped me deal with that. I never thought I was dumb even for one second. I really thought reading was going to blow over, and that it was unnecessary to learn how to read. I’d gotten that far without knowing how to read. That’s a hilarious perspective. It’s gotten me far in life.

 

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

Okay my god, please don’t do bringer shows. If you have people that will come out to watch you do comedy PUT ON YOUR OWN SHOW. Your own show will put your name out there better than being on any bringer show. In my experience, club bookers don’t even watch their bringer shows. So who are you doing it for? It’s hard to realize that just going to open mics and hanging out around at comedy clubs isn’t going to make you famous. Look at what the people you perceive as successful are doing. They probably host their own show, or podcast, or make Instagram videos, or write funny articles. Do that, try everything!

 

What single word always cracks you up?

Context is everything. No single word is funny, even if one word makes me laugh it’s because of the context. But there is a video of Jerry Seinfeld breaking down the “funny words” in one of his jokes, and it’s hilarious. He says something like, “CHIMP, DIRT, PLAYING, and STICKS. Out of seven words in my joke, four of them are funny.” I just don’t think about comedy like that, and I love hearing people talk about it. It’s so funny.

 

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

My parents. They kept telling me I could become anything I wanted to be, and I took them up on it. My dad is still the funniest guy I know, and now I know a lot of guys who think they’re funny. And when the day is done, my mom is still my biggest fan. Even though a lot of my content truly makes her uncomfortable.

 

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

Don’t worry about the people who hate you. People are going to hate you, and the people who hate you aren’t going to help you. Find the people who like you and think you’re funny, and work with them. Start your own show. Start your own open mic. Have something to offer people. You don’t have to wait for people to book you, you can start booking the people you want to work with. Put yourself in a position of power.

 

Photo via: Mindy Tucker


Kelsey Caine is a beautiful New York comedian and writer originally from Texas. Her family describes her comedy as, “Stop telling jokes about us. It hurts your brother’s feelings.” She is most well known for her viral satirical character Penis C.K., who’s making fun of exactly the sex offender you’re thinking of. Kelsey is a New York Times contributor, a Miss New York USA pageant state finalist, and a controversial performance artist. Kelsey is a graduate of The New School with an MFA in Creative Writing, double majoring in Writing for Children and Nonfiction. Inspired by the #MeToo Movement Kelsey began advocating for sexual assault education in schools, focusing primarily on all-boys schools. She is writing a book on the topic entitled “What To Do With #MeToo” represented by Sarah Phair at Trident Media Group.

Mini Q+A with Adrianne Chalepah

Adrianne Chalepah is a standup comedian, writer, and mother of four. Raised in Kiowa/Comanche/Apache territory in Oklahoma, she began her career in entertainment at age 20. She has been honored to open for First Lady Michelle Obama and share the stage with comedy legends such as Margaret Cho, Dane Cook, and Jarrod Carmichael. She is author of Funny Girl, an anthology of women comics and writers, and founder of the all-female indigenous comedy troupe Ladies of Native Comedy. In 2019, she was featured in the Netflix series Larry Charles’ Dangerous World of Comedy. She is a member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma.


Describe your worst gig.

Laughlin, Nevada. Old rich retirees apparently aren’t into my jokes.

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

Be unapologetically yourself.

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

Your mom is funny.

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

I needed it for sanity.

Best comedy advice you ever got?

Do your thang.

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

Wear a tutu on stage.

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

I don’t know. I’m not convinced I’m a “real” woman.

Feelings about the word “comedienne”?

Meh.

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

Network. It don’t matter how funny you are if you don’t know the right people. Unfortunately, being an introvert, this is hard to do… Good luck!

What single word always cracks you up?

Fuddruckers

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

My dad. He’s a funny guy and he schooled me in film and comedy.

How has being funny helped you in your offstage life?

Humor is therapeutic. I come from inter-generational trauma as an indigenous person whose ancestors survived genocide. Comedy is ingrained in us. We survived because we never forgot to laugh.

 

Photo via: Ceylon Grey


Adrianne Chalepah is a standup comedian, writer, and mother of four. Raised in Kiowa/Comanche/Apache territory in Oklahoma, she began her career in entertainment at age 20. She has been honored to open for First Lady Michelle Obama and share the stage with comedy legends such as Margaret Cho, Dane Cook, and Jarrod Carmichael. She is author of Funny Girl, an anthology of women comics and writers, and founder of the all-female indigenous comedy troupe Ladies of Native Comedy. In 2019, she was featured in the Netflix series Larry Charles’ Dangerous World of Comedy. She is a member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma.

Mini Q+A with Emily Winter

Emily Winter has written for The New York Times, The New Yorker, NPR’s “Ask Me Another,” TV Land, Fusion TV, Glamour, and The Barnes & Noble Review. She’s an NBC Late Night Writers Workshop script judge, and co-creator of WHAT A JOKE, a nationwide comedy festival that raised more than $50K for the ACLU in 2017. Emily’s standup has been featured on SiriusXM, and she’s performed at SF SketchFest, Laughing Skull Comedy Festival, The Limestone Comedy Festival, and others. She runs two Time Out Critics’ Pick comedy shows in Brooklyn: BackFat Variety and Side Ponytail, and hosts a podcast that reached #1 in Podomatic training podcasts, HOW TO PRODUCE LIVE COMEDY. Her work has been profiled on The TODAY Show, The AV Club, Buzzfeed, Lifehacker, The Miami New Times, Bustle, someecards, The Boston Globe and others.


Favorite response to a heckler or troll?

When I was still pretty new in comedy, I told a bad male heckler, “You’re so hot. Too bad you’re an a**hole.” The room lit up, and I was really proud of myself because I still was insecure on stage. That moment gave me a lot of confidence.

Describe your worst gig.

I was once bumped from a show in Miami because a person in a rabbit costume wanted to do spoken word. That hurt.

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

Be kind, but do what you want.

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

Life without standup comedy felt a little bit like I was floating through New York City, desperate for meaning, attention, and purpose. Standup comedy changed all that. It gave me goals and a very concrete reason to get up, get out, and work.

Best comedy advice you ever got?

Punch up, not down.

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

Don’t wear dresses. (I’ll wear what I want!)

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

It got me a job once! I made my former boss, a book packager, laugh during my interview, and he said he hired me to come up with book ideas because he liked my sense of humor.

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

Just keep plugging away. I know it’s so hard to hear. But when you get better, unfortunately YOU’LL be the first to notice. It’ll take some time for the rest of the world to catch on. So keep writing new jokes and weaving them into tried and true material to broaden your set while also showcasing your skills.

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

I wrote my first standup joke after enduring a physical assault. I’d always wanted to try standup, but I never NEEDED to try it until I was depressed and desperate for an outlet for my sadness, rage, and my joke about it all. I’m not glad that the assault happened, but I’m glad I made lemons into lemonade.

 


Emily Winter has written for The New York Times, The New Yorker, NPR’s “Ask Me Another,” TV Land, Fusion TV, Glamour, and The Barnes & Noble Review. She’s an NBC Late Night Writers Workshop script judge, and co-creator of WHAT A JOKE, a nationwide comedy festival that raised more than $50K for the ACLU in 2017. Emily’s standup has been featured on SiriusXM, and she’s performed at SF SketchFest, Laughing Skull Comedy Festival, The Limestone Comedy Festival, and others. She runs two Time Out Critics’ Pick comedy shows in Brooklyn: BackFat Variety and Side Ponytail, and hosts a podcast that reached #1 in Podomatic training podcasts, HOW TO PRODUCE LIVE COMEDY. Her work has been profiled on The TODAY Show, The AV Club, Buzzfeed, Lifehacker, The Miami New Times, Bustle, someecards, The Boston Globe and others.

Photo credit: Phil Provencio

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Mini Q+A with Christie Buchele

Christie Buchele is an up-and-coming standup comic from Denver, Colorado, who also co-led GOLD’s debut hybrid F2F version of our online class at Park Hill Branch Library in Denver. Christie made a name for herself by the heart-wrenching and hilarious realities of being a woman with a disability. Christie has been featured on Viceland’s, Flophouse; Hidden America with Jonah Ray; and Laughs on Fox. Christie has performed at both the Crom Comedy Festival in Omaha, Nebraska, Denver’s own High Plains Comedy Festival and Hell Yes Fest in New Orleans. Follow her


Favorite response to a heckler or troll?

Thank you for your input! I am up/out here actually creating and putting myself out there. So I REALLY appreciate the opinion [of someone] who does nothing but tear others down. (BIG SARCASTIC SMILE)

Describe your worst gig.

I had to follow a duck that was pooping on squares for a raffle. They wanted a Jeff Foxworthy type but they got me! They did not laugh. I got boo’d and my Dad was there to watch it!

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

There will be comics who are less funny than you, and comics that are more funny than you. Never let any other comic work harder than you.

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

The community. Comedy creates a family for you everywhere you go. If you are a comic, comics in other cities will be there for you and take care of you when you come visit and its a really special network. If you don’t feel supported in your community, start building your own or move to a more supportive comedy community.

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

When people tell me to try and conform my voice to what the club or corporate scenes want in order to be more “accessible.” Straying away from my own authentic voice has never served me.

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

I don’t feel like people really know me until they have seen me do stand-up. It’s this amazing tool to introduce myself to the whole room and make them comfortable. I am a person with a disability so I feel like it really helps me feel more comfortable around so many new people because I get to explain my disability to everyone at once.

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

Get onstage as much as possible. Actually WORK your jokes. A lot of people come to mics and try new stuff every time and they never sharpen the jokes they already have. Mix in new stuff with more established stuff so that you can get new stuff and also show the other comics and bookers what you can do.

What single word always cracks you up?

When I refer to my legs as gams

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

Josh Blue was the first person I saw making jokes about having a disability. Because of him I knew I could too. Now I get to work with him all the time.

Best comedy advice you ever got?

Just keep showing up.

Christie Buchele is an up-and-coming standup comic from Denver, Colorado, who also co-led GOLD’s debut hybrid F2F version of our online class at Park Hill Branch Library in Denver. Christie made a name for herself by the heart-wrenching and hilarious realities of being a woman with a disability. Christie has been featured on Viceland’s, Flophouse; Hidden America with Jonah Ray; and Laughs on Fox. Christie has performed at both the Crom Comedy Festival in Omaha, Nebraska, Denver’s own High Plains Comedy Festival and Hell Yes Fest in New Orleans.

Christie co-hosts a witty relationship advice podcast, Empty Girlfriend, which earned best Comedy Podcast by Westword Magazine and best Podcast for Sexpot Comedy in 2017. As one third of the Denver Comedy powerhouse, The Pussy Bros, Christie reps the Mile High City hard while crushing audiences with a wry, biting style that’s a bit sweet, a and a little bit surly; proving time and again you can say almost anything with a smile on your face and a gimp in your step. Follow her

Photo Credit: Carnefix Photography

Mini Q+A with Iris Bahr

Iris Bahr is a critically acclaimed writer, actor, director, producer and novelist. Having starred on numerous television shows (for full credits see imdb.com) , she is best known for her recurring role as Svetlana (which she wrote and directed for Mark Cuban’s Hdnet) and her recurring role on Curb your Enthusiasm, where she plays the Orthodox Jewish Girl that gets stuck on a ski-lift with Larry David. Her critically acclaimed solo show, “DAI (enough)”, in which she plays 11 different characters in a Tel Aviv cafe moments before a suicide bomber enters, had an extended hit run Off-Broadway and won the prestigious Lucille Lortel Award for Best Solo Performance, as well as 2 Drama Desk and UK Stage Award nominations for Best Performance and Sound Design. She has performed DAI around the world, including at the United Nations for over 100 ambassadors and delegates. Her first solo show, “Planet America”, received an LA Weekly nomination for Outstanding Solo Show and is currently in development as a feature film. Her critically acclaimed third solo show, I LOST YOU THERE, just completed a run at the Cherry Lane Theatre in NYC. Follow her!

Favorite response to a heckler or troll?

Tears.

Describe your worst gig (noting that you survived).

Overnight gig in Connecticut, I was at a hotel where a massive Narcotics Anonymous convention was going on, which involved lots of edgy folks leaving every few minutes to smoke cigarettes.

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

Don’t date another comic.

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

It involves either walking away or Karav Maga.

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

Daddy issues.

Best comedy advice you ever got?

Keep creating.

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

Give up.

Feelings about the word “comedienne”?

Classy.

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

It has definitely helped finding some light when dealing with profound loss and grief.

What single word always cracks you up?

ointment.


Iris Bahr is a critically acclaimed writer, actor, director, producer and novelist. Having starred on numerous television shows (for full credits see imdb.com) , she is best known for her recurring role as Svetlana (which she wrote and directed for Mark Cuban’s Hdnet) and her recurring role on Curb your Enthusiasm, where she plays the Orthodox Jewish Girl that gets stuck on a ski-lift with Larry David. Her critically acclaimed solo show, “DAI (enough)”, in which she plays 11 different characters in a Tel Aviv cafe moments before a suicide bomber enters, had an extended hit run Off-Broadway and won the prestigious Lucille Lortel Award for Best Solo Performance, as well as 2 Drama Desk and UK Stage Award nominations for Best Performance and Sound Design. She has performed DAI around the world, including at the United Nations for over 100 ambassadors and delegates. Her first solo show, “Planet America”, received an LA Weekly nomination for Outstanding Solo Show and is currently in development as a feature film. Her critically acclaimed third solo show, I LOST YOU THERE, just completed a run at the Cherry Lane Theatre in NYC. Follow her!

Mini Q+A with Abbi Crutchfield

Abbi Crutchfield is a comedian seen on Comedy Central, truTV, and NBC. She is a UCB alum and founder of the long-running live comedy hour “The Living Room Show” in Brooklyn. This fall she will host Laugh Exchange, a new comedy app. Follow her on Twitter! @curlycomedy

Describe your worst gig.

Performing in a bar connected to a showroom that my co-workers were spilling out after seeing a colleague perform (I had recently been laid off). So they wanted to laugh and chat, and I was standing near them with a mic in this non-performance space (no stage or lights) just trying to do jokes. After some polite head nods, we all were just ignoring each other. They ignored the noise of the mic as I tried to power through their good time.

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

You’re doing great.

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

Why do you hate to laugh?

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

Encouraging milestones. And Drew Hastings wrote “PERSEVERANCE!” in my autograph book my first year of comedy.

Best comedy advice you ever got?

Mike Birbiglia stressed the importance of writing. (“Write, write, write, and when you run out of things to say, write some more.”)

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

“Sleep with me to get ahead.”

 

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

I don’t sweat the small stuff.

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

Network with people and bring your A game on stage.

What single word always cracks you up?

Pooter-toot

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

No. It was a ton of people over a period of time. Maybe the person who kicked it off was an older woman at a party who worked in the Foreign Service. She convinced me I didn’t want the line of work I was studying in college.

Feelings about the word “comedienne”?

It’s a title describing a personess who tells jokettes.

Photo via: David Schinman


Abbi Crutchfield is a comedian seen on Comedy Central, truTV, and NBC. She is a UCB alum, and founder of the long-running live comedy hour “The Living Room Show” in Brooklyn. This fall she will host Laugh Exchange, a new comedy app. Follow her on Twitter! @curlycomedy

Mini Q+A with…Leah Bonnema

Leah Bonnema is a stand-up comic based in New York City. She’s been featured on VH1’s 100 Greatest Child Stars and 100 Sexiest Stars, AXS TV’s Gotham Comedy Live, IFC’s Comedy Crib, WeTV’s Cinematherapy, TruTV’s Comedy Knockout, Lizz Winstead’s Lady Parts Justice, Amazon Prime’s Comics Watching Comics, VProud’s You’re Not Crazy, and is a regular on SiriusXM. Bonnema has had the honor of performing for the troops in Iraq, toured throughout the Middle East, and performed for the U.S. Marines at the famed Friars Club. Huffington Post named her one of their Favorite Female Comedians. She’s been featured in the Glasgow Comedy Festival, the New York Comedy Festival, Bumbershoot, AfroPunkFest, the New York Television Festival, Laughing Skull Fest, and at The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. for the District of Comedy Festival. www.leahbonnema.com


Favorite response to a heckler or troll?

I’ve had some really nasty hecklers and trolls but nothing beats the voice in my own head that is constantly heckling: “Why did you say that!?” “Is it possible to not embarrass yourself?!’ “You’re sweating again!” “You’re letting down your parents.” “You’re never gonna have a washer/dryer.” And to that voice I say “SHUT THE F UP! I’M WORKING HERE!”

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

Just keep getting on stage.

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

Dogged self-loathing.

Best comedy advice you ever got?

Get. On. Stage. As. Much. As. Possible. (It’s a long haul. You gotta work on your craft so at some point you become undeniable).

Feelings about the word “comedienne”?

I’m not really into gendered words. I just want to be a comic. Not a female comic. Just a comic. Not that being female isn’t important to me, but I hate that “comic” somehow means man — which is what happens when the word “female” goes in front of it.

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

1) Run your own show and swap spots.
2) Do a fundraiser for an org you love at a club –> raise some money for a good cause and also develop a relationship with that venue.
3) Offer to host — people need hosts.

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

1) Modify your truth so other people feel comfortable (paraphrase).
2) Wear more skirts.

Leah Bonnema is a stand-up comic based in New York City. She’s been featured on VH1’s 100 Greatest Child Stars and 100 Sexiest Stars, AXS TV’s Gotham Comedy Live, IFC’s Comedy Crib, WeTV’s Cinematherapy, TruTV’s Comedy Knockout, Lizz Winstead’s Lady Parts Justice, Amazon Prime’s Comics Watching Comics, VProud’s You’re Not Crazy, and is a regular on SiriusXM. Bonnema has had the honor of performing for the troops in Iraq, toured throughout the Middle East, and performed for the U.S. Marines at the famed Friars Club. Huffington Post named her one of their Favorite Female Comedians. She’s been featured in the Glasgow Comedy Festival, the New York Comedy Festival, Bumbershoot, AfroPunkFest, the New York Television Festival, Laughing Skull Fest, and at The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. for the District of Comedy Festival. www.leahbonnema.com

Mini Q+A with…Ashley Hamilton

Ashley Hamilton is a stand up comedian and writer from Chicago, IL who started performing in sunny Los Angeles. In LA, she ran a monthly show at UCB Franklin, hosted regularly at the Chatterbox in Covina, CA, and performed at the Hollywood Improv. Recently, she relocated to New York City and can be seen performing 7 nights a week all around New York. She contributes writing and videos to ManRepeller.com and hosts a podcast called Hold on One Second We’re Talking About Britney Spears, the world’s only oral history of Britney Spears in podcast form. She has performed all around the country and recently appeared at the Broke LA festival in Los Angeles and The Big Sky Comedy festival in Billings, MT. Follow her!


What’s the best way for standups to level up from open mics + “bringer” shows to “real” shows?

Support rooms, be funny, don’t try to tailor a good “show set.” Just work on getting funnier in general and it’ll happen.

 

Describe your worst gig.

I would say surviving any gig where people very specifically want to be doing anything other than watching standup is a victory. Its not that fun to feel like you’re holding people hostage.

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

Just keep doing it.

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

Just wait until one takes pity and finally talks to you.

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

This probably sounds dumb but I just like doing it so much. Writing a joke and then having that joke work in front of strangers is great.

Best comedy advice you ever got?

Be funny.

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

Be something else (any advice about trying to fit into the mold of a female comedian who is already successful is bad advice).

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

I was extremely shy growing up but making my friends laugh was always a huge confidence booster.

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

I don’t think any one person inspired me to be a comedian. It was a pretty windy path before I decided I even wanted to try it. My dad introduced me to all of the comedy that wound up inspiring me.

Feelings about the word “comedienne”?

Too many letters.

Mini Q+A with…Chanel Ali

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


 

Favorite response to a heckler or troll?

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

 

Describe your worst gig.

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Best comedy advice you ever got?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Feelings about the word “comedienne”?

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

 


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

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