Black Lives Matter

I founded GOLD Comedy to help make sure that girls get taken seriously. Some people say our purpose is “empowering” teen girls, but there’s more to it.

 

Girls already have their own power. It’s on everyone else to respect that. 

 

So really it’s more about (let’s call it) “de-empowering” everyone else. That’s the kind of cultural and structural change I’m really talking about.  That kind of change needs to happen in the comedy world, which—not coincidentally, like the world-world—is (despite obvious progress) still structured from the ground up to privilege and promote straight cis white men. 

 

That kind of change requires more than just—for one thing—not telling (or sharing) racist jokes. (Though that’s obviously imperative.) It means telling (and sharing) anti-racist jokes, especially if you’re white. It means not just opening doors for comics of color and everyone else outside what’s still the norm. It means breaking them down and building new ones.

 

Comedy—as content and business—is too often a tool for normalizing, perpetuating, and promoting violence, racism, and racist violence. But the reason we’re here is that comedy can also be a force for good, even stronger than a balm or a break. (“The best medicine” is a cure for COVID-19.)

 

Comedy, handled right, provokes and demands new ways of thinking, helps shift the standards of what’s acceptable (and what’s not). Comedy (and comics) (especially white comics) (and white industry gatekeepers) really can do their part to help drive—both slowly and as seismically as we’re seeing right now—the kind of structure and culture change required to ensure that black lives matter.  

 

This is almost literally the least we can do, but it is important to follow and share the anti-racist work of comedians of both color and of, shall we say, pallor. A teeny tiny sampling of some who may not yet be on your radar: Ted Alexandro, Kerry Coddett, Sarah Cooper, Ayo Edebiri, Negin Farsad, Jena Friedman, Ziwe Fumodoh, Akilah Hughes, Dwayne Kennedy, Leighann Lord, Zahra Noorbakhsh, Jeff Simmermon, Elsa Eli Waithe, WellRED Comedy (Trae Crowder, Corey Ryan Forrester, Drew Morgan), Kristina Wong. (Tag @goldcomedy on Instagram or Twitter with other recommendations!)

 

Also, I recommend following and supporting Teens4Equality. It’s the group that organized Nashville’s recent15,000-person #BLM in five days, founded by six teen girls. Told you they had power. 

Laughter as medicine: How to write good jokes about bad things

5 essentials of quarantine comedy.

COVID-19: Is it funny? No. Can you write jokes about it? Yes. DEPENDING. You need to be careful. Do it wrong, and you’ll bum people out (and/or, for one thing, be racist). But do it right, and you’ll do what comedy does: bring people together (even at 6 feet apart). 

I have thought a lot about writing good jokes about bad things. I have struggled with PTSD since I was sexually assaulted as a teenager. I’m also a comedian—and I’ve talked about PTSD and assault on stage for years. Recently I recorded a podcast, hosted by two former soldiers who’d done tours in Afghanistan, where comedians talk about mental health. On the podcast, I half-joked, “The only people who get to talk about PTSD are soldiers and assault survivors.” 

Obviously, that half-joke is not 100% true, but it does highlight a few crucial things to think about when you want to tackle the tough stuff. It might seem hard, but—take it from me, Hannah Gadsby, Cameron Esposito, Adrienne Truscott, Tig Notaro, Julia Sweeney, Maria Bamford, and many more, and their fans—it’s important, cathartic, empowering, and worth it. Big picture, joking about hard topics is a delicate process, but when done right it can accomplish something very special: make comedy important

So! We are all stuck inside right now, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave your funny stuck inside, too. Since coronavirus is top of mind, I encourage you to rise to the challenge and explore where in this terrible situation you can find some true funny. Crack up your fam or just work on your craft—and let us know how it goes (@goldcomedy)!

Here’s how to get it right:

1. Keep it personal. 

Ask yourself: Did this terrible thing happen to or affect me directly? The answer pretty much needs to be yes. Take: cancer. If you have struggled with it or someone close to you has, that makes it fair game for you. (Again: See Tig Notaro and Julia Sweeney, who have made true comic art about their own experiences with illness.) In the case of COVID, that test is easier to pass: We are all affected in one way or another by the social distancing, job loss, confusion, isolation, fear, etc. (not themselves funny, but all definitely a source of comedy).

I regularly make jokes about being a sexual assault survivor. So do other comics who are also survivors, and we always clap each other on. But when I see someone making a joke about sexual assault who is not a survivor, I get wary. It might turn out to be a good joke if it punches the right way (see below), but as a comic, it’s also your job to take care of your audience and not make them think they need to worry about how to respond to something. When Brett Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court, I had a joke about how “all” “Bretts” are rapists. During the setup, I made clear that as a survivor I was deeply affected by the hearings—and that helped audiences know it was going to be okay to laugh at whatever came next. 

2. Punch in the right direction. 

In comedy, you punch up. That is, you make the butt of the joke something or someone with more power than you. Avoiding punching down—making fun of people with less power than you—is incredibly important when you’re joking about sensitive topics. (Read more about punching up vs. punching down here.) In today’s terms: DON’T make fun of people or families suffering because of COVID. (DON’T make fun of Chinese people, or even China, for “starting the disease.” You might think it’s punching up because China is a country, but jokes like that usually rely on racism, which is always punching down.) DO (for example) make fun of powerful people you think are NOT HELPING (hilarious example from @Adley here), or—of course—of the ridiculous ways that YOU are responding to the experience of being stuck at home. 

Making fun of yourself (punching the mirror?) is usually called self-deprecating comedy. A word of caution: You might lose the audience if they feel like you are beating yourself up too much. When I do jokes about my sexual assault on stage I don’t blame myself for getting assaulted or punch down at other survivors; I punch up towards the concept of assault, people who think it’s ok to hurt others, or the culture that allows such things to happen. This way, you’re talking about something specific to you—but everyone can relate. 

3. Know your audience.

It’s always important to read the room (an actual room or whoever’s listening to/reading/etc. your jokes), but it’s most important when your topic might alienate or trigger members of your crowd. 

Let’s say (rule 1, above) you’re making a joke about your struggle with a death in the family. You’re punching up (rule 2) by making the joke about the U.S. healthcare system. But the joke bombs. Why? Maybe your joke reminded too many people of someone they miss. Maybe your crowd thinks the healthcare system is awesome. No matter what: It happens.

Of course,  bombing with material that is personal and difficult can hurt a lot more.  I have a joke about when I told an ex-boyfriend I was a survivor. He said, “Like CSI,” and I said, “No, like SVU.” That joke works EVERY TIME, except…that one time. That one time made me feel worse than any other bomb in my life. Make sure you are ready to share these jokes, and try to find an audience that will support you. 

4. Be open to (most) feedback. 

Audience members (in real life or online) are often VERY HAPPY to share their opinions on your jokes. Maybe especially jokes about hard topics. When I started doing jokes about sexual assault, it was before #MeToo had reached full force. We weren’t talking as much about assault as a culture. I had a lot of male comedians tell me to stop. I had other comedians go on stage after me and riff at my expense with their own terrible “rape jokes.” Those…aren’t the opinions to be listening to. 

DO: Listen to people who have been affected by the same bad things as you. If your joke is good, they will often be your biggest supporters. They will be much more valuable to your writing process than simply listening to those who say, “You can’t talk about that.” 

5. Make sure YOU are ready. 

Even if you follow all these steps, the most important thing about making these types of jokes is making sure you are ready. Not as a comedian, but as a person. These jokes are extremely personal if done right. You open yourself up on stage with these jokes—and that is hard. Some wounds are just too fresh for jokes, so don’t push or rush yourself. Not everything in your life has to be fodder for performance. Once you are ready, don’t be discouraged, if you stick to your story in a respectful and thoughtful way, no one can tell you you’re wrong. 


Rosa Escandón is a New York-based writer and comedian. She’s been seen on Buzzfeed Video, DAZN, Seriously.TV, and other silly internet videos that you can watch here. She is a contributor to Forbes and has been an editor at the Tusk and a writer for Laughspin.

Rosa has served on the board of Cinder Block Comedy Festival and is a proud alumna of Bloomers: All Female Sketch Comedy. She joined the board of the Black Women in Comedy Festival for its inaugural year. She is a member of the sketch troupe Infinite Sketch. 



Mini Q+A with Grace Holtz

Grace Holtz is a Chattanooga-based comedian and performer. She previously was a co-host for the Once a Month comedy show and helped lead GOLD Comedy’s Comedy Camp at the Chattanooga Public Library.


Favorite response to a heckler or troll?

That even with a microphone and a PA system my voice will never be as loud as an arrogant man still putting his two cents in at a comedy club where he used a Groupon.

BRIEFLY describe your worst gig.

I told several anti-police force jokes before a cop approached the stage to tell me to shut up. I would’ve used the retort to that heckler but all I did was give him my license plate number.

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

Realizing no one had my voice in my city. I felt unique for one of the first times in my life.

Best comedy advice you ever got?

Make your strongest joke your last.

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

Wear makeup.

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

Same as a man. Just harder.

Feelings about the word “comedienne”?

Lose it.

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

Always get to know out of town comedians in your town. Each booking could lead to a level up.

What single word always cracks you up?

Duty

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

Joan Rivers and my bff who is way funnier and never had the guts to do it.

How has being funny helped you in your offstage life?

Understanding that all people have a voice. It’s not your responsibility to change their voice, but empathize and move on if they don’t deserve your ears.

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

Your talent is to turn your pain into humor and help someone else’s pain shrink a little bit. Even if your audience doesn’t like you, you’re the one walking home with a paycheck.


Grace Holtz is a Chattanooga-based comedian and performer. She previously was a co-host of the Once a Month comedy show and helped lead GOLD Comedy’s Comedy Camp at the Chattanooga Public Library.

Read Alex’s bio here.

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.

Read Lynn’s bio here.

Mini Q+A with Brittani Nichols

Brittani Nichols is a writer, comedian, and actor living in Los Angeles. Words With Girls, a comedy pilot (based on the web series of the same name) that she created and starred in, was produced as part of Issa Rae’s Color Creative TV and premiered at HBO/BET’s Urbanworld Film Festival. She co-hosts Brand New Podcast with fellow witch and comedian Ariana Lenarsky. Suicide Kale, the feature she produced, wrote, and starred in, is currently available on SVOD after winning numerous awards including the Audience Award at Outfest and Newfest. Brittani has appeared on Transparent and Take My Wife and her writing credits include StrangersTake My Wife, MTV’s VMA’s and the celebrity rap battle show Drop the Mic. Brittani is currently writing for the recently announced A Black Lady Sketch Show for HBO.


Favorite response to a heckler or troll?

You’re boring.

Describe your worst gig.

Every gig is terrible because I’d rather be at home.

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

Get comfortable with the discomfort of saying no to things.

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

I live a life in which I avoid this scenario.

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

My friends coming to shows. If you’re not funny, and your friends have self-respect, they will not repeatedly come watch you be unfunny.

Best comedy advice you ever got?

All you need is a beginning, middle, and end.

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

You should be able to make everyone laugh.

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

I’ve used humor as a comping mechanism since before I knew what a coping mechanism was. Being able to talk about things via jokes before I was in a place where I was willing to be vulnerable enough to talk about them plainly helped me make sense of myself, the world around me, and the things that happened to me.

What single word always cracks you up?

Whilst

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

I don’t know that there was a period between wanting to be a comedian and becoming one. It was just the decision of, “Oh, this is what I’m doing now.” But Dave Chappelle was the reason I became invested in comedy and appreciated every aspect of it before I decided it’s what I would do.

Feelings about the word “comedienne”?

The only people I see use that word are men trying to be funny by putting it in their Twitter bios.

Photo via: Robin Roemer


Brittani Nichols is a writer, comedian, and actor living in Los Angeles. Words With Girls, a comedy pilot (based on the web series of the same name) that she created and starred in, was produced as part of Issa Rae’s Color Creative TV and premiered at HBO/BET’s Urbanworld Film Festival. She co-hosts Brand New Podcast with fellow witch and comedian Ariana Lenarsky. Suicide Kale, the feature she produced, wrote, and starred in, is currently available on SVOD after winning numerous awards including the Audience Award at Outfest and Newfest. Brittani has appeared on Transparent and Take My Wife and her writing credits include StrangersTake My Wife, MTV’s VMA’s and the celebrity rap battle show Drop the Mic. Brittani is currently writing for the recently announced A Black Lady Sketch Show for HBO.

Read Lynn’s bio here.

Mini Q+A with Lolita Morrow

Lolita Morrow is an up-and-coming New York based comedian who grew up in Houston, Texas. She’s performed at New York’s famous Caroline’s on Broadway and Broadway Comedy Club. Lolita’s southern charm and quick wit has allowed her to host red carpets and moderate panel events around the country. Her new comedy book, Think Like A Bartender –Cocktails For Life, will be released this fall.


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

One size does not fit all….not for pantyhose or comedy. Be Yourself!

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

The constant, persistent pressure from bill collectors. That’ll get you going!

Best comedy advice you ever got?

Do it for free.. it will pay for itself later.

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

See previous answer.

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

When my grandfather kept hitting on my girlfriends…I had to laugh to keep from choking him out.

What single word always cracks you up?

Covfefe

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

My grandmother! She was always laughing at everything I did…. well, now I know it was because of her dementia.


Lolita Morrow is an up-and-coming New York based comedian who grew up in Houston, Texas. She’s performed at New York’s famous Caroline’s on Broadway and Broadway Comedy Club. Lolita’s southern charm and quick wit has allowed her to host red carpets and moderate panel events around the country. Her new comedy book, Think Like A Bartender –Cocktails For Life, will be released this fall.

Read Cassandra’s bio here. 

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+.

Be Your Funniest Self - Join The Club!

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 who She produces Stay Golden, a YouTube channel of original content inspired by The Golden Girls. @stolafprod

How to collaborate in comedy with literally anyone ever

Sure, I do solo comedy. But I’ve been collaborating in one form or another for the majority of my life: sketch, improv, choreography, directing, producing, and working in writers’ rooms. I like both ways of working, and I think the best thing you can do for yourself is know how to do either one.

Finding a great writing partner, producing partner, or any other sort of comedy collaborator is a worthy goal. Working with someone else can make your creative life so much richer.

It can also make it a lot more complicated because now, instead of only navigating your own hang-ups, craziness, bad moods and assorted mishegas, you’ve also got someone else’s to contend with.

Add to that, there’s no playbook for a working relationship with your funny friends.

So I’ve written a little primer for you, replete with tips and tricks to remember as you bring collaborators into your (previously solo) process—and alphabetized for maximum adorableness.

Always encourage your collaborators and let them know when they’re doing a good job.

Between you and me” — Or maybe not. Gossip is toxic and will always come back to haunt you.

Constantly check in on deadlines to make sure that your partner knows what is due, when.

Deadlines are the only way. Create them for yourself. Little ones and big ones all along your path.

Everyone you meet is a potential collaborator. Treat people with respect (until they really blow it and then GTFO).

Forgive small mistakes. We are all learning. Learn and move forward and help your collaborators to do the same.

Give all of yourself to your projects or don’t bother doing them. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

Have fun working together with your friends. When it stops being fun, notice — and make changes.

It’s okay to put yourself first. Make sure that you are not giving too much and getting nothing back. This should be an equal exchange.

Just say no to people who make you feel like garbage. You don’t need a collaborator who belittles you. There are plenty of fish in the sea.

Kick butt. Celebrate. Relax. Repeat.

Lone writing is not a bad thing. It’s great to take a break from collaborators sometimes and do it all on your own. You’ll learn a lot. See which way you prefer.

Make friends with people whose energy and work ethic you admire. Talent is nice, but over time, work ethic and positive energy will take you further. Seek out people who are talented and have an indefatigable spirit.

Nobody knows you better than yourself. Speak up about your needs creatively, financially, and in terms of time management. Don’t let alpha personalities silence you, and don’t step on the voices of others either.

Open yourself up to your writing partner’s ideas. Accept notes. They will make your work better.

Put yourself in the shoes of your collaborator. How is s/he seeing this situation?

Quality over quantity when it comes to rehearsal and writing time. You can get a lot done in a short, focused period of time and surprisingly little done when you’re unfocused or your team is too chatty to do any writing.

Read. It makes you a better writer.

Stop comparing yourself to your collaborators. Their strengths complete your weaknesses and vice versa. You had the good sense to work with them, and that’s a skill unto itself.

Take care of your body. Don’t rehearse and write till all hours of the night. Sleep makes you more awake and therefore more talented and more FANCY.

Untangle complicated social problems as soon as you can. Don’t let bad energy fester in your group. Talk it out and get rid of it. Put the work first.

Vent your grievances to your journal or practice role-playing with another trusted friend before having a difficult conversation to your collaborator. Words matter.

Wait until the show is over to celebrate. It’s not over till it’s over. Stay focused. Eyes on the prize.

Xerox your scripts well before your rehearsal so that everyone has copies and you’re not scrambling for a Staples. By Xerox, I mean print. (Work with me here, people. X is a tough one.)

You are always learning, even though you’re already a superstar. Stay humble.

Zip Zap Zop is still a fantastic warm up for your sketch or improv group. Don’t knock it. You’ll never outgrow a game that’s all about focus.

And those are the ABC’s of Collaboration!

Tell us: Do any of these tips remind you of a good story? Let us know (keeping people anonymous, though. See the Gossip note above….) Failure and success stories welcomed!


Read Emma’s bio.


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.

Read Cassandra’s bio.

QUIZ: What kind of class clown are you? Here’s how to find out.

You’re here on this site and thus part of the GOLD community, so we can safely assume you’re some kind of class clown. But that’s not all there is to the story. Even class clowns have different flavors. Consider this a personality test for people who would never, ever take a personality test. Be sure to keep track of your answers so that you can add up your results at the end. Or, for those of you who are resistant to following directions, don’t keep track of your answers, it’s not allowed.

  1. When you’re not cracking jokes, you can be found …

    1. Scrolling through Instagram
    2. Crushing it in trivia competitions
    3. Coming up with more jokes to crack
    4. Bragging about your sexcapades
    5. Reading in a busy café
  2. Which of these jobs comes closest to being your dream gig?

    1. Social media director
    2. Political commentator
    3. TV show host
    4. Advice columnist
    5. Artist
  3. How would you summarize your sense of humor?

    1. Always on trend
    2. Democratic
    3. Stupid-funny
    4. A lil’ edgy
    5. Insightful and pointed
  4. Who’s your inner celebrity?

    1. Kim Kardashian
    2. Samantha Bee
    3. Amy Poehler
    4. Amy Schumer
    5. Aparna Nancherla
  5. What’s your patronus?

    1. Lion
    2. Elephant
    3. Dog
    4. Cat
    5. Mouse
  6. Which of these TV shows is your favorite?

    1. Rupaul’s Drag Race
    2. Saturday Night Live
    3. The Simpsons
    4. Broad City
    5. 30 Rock
  7. What’s your go-to shoe style?

    1. Booties
    2. Heels
    3. Crocs
    4. Sandals
    5. Converse
  8. What high school clique do you belong to?

    1. The proud crowd
    2. Nerds
    3. Jocks
    4. Stoners
    5. Misfits
  9. Which of these cities would you choose as your home?

    1. New York
    2. Washington, D.C.
    3. Los Angeles
    4. Austin
    5. San Francisco

If You Got Mostly As…

You’re the Meme Queen!

Your sense of humor is all about pop culture and all things current. People flock to you for ultra-relevant jokes on everything from avocado toast to Béyonce’s babies, and you never let them down. There are tons of popular comedians with your brand of funny, and it’s easy to see why. Just listen to the crowd in this show by Leslie Jones.

If You Got Mostly Bs…

You’re the Teacher’s Clown!

Taking notes on the current political climate, you’re able to find the funny in incredibly confusing or stressful national issues. You are able to use your laser-sharp wit not only to mock our nation’s politics, but to critique them, making your jokes as thought-provoking as they are laugh-inducing. Margaret Cho is an absolute master — er, mistress? — of this brand of comedy.

If You Got Mostly Cs…

You’re the Human Whoopie Cushion!

Your sense of humor is 100% classic, able to be adapted to any kind of audience. As much as you’re willing to poke fun at others, though, your best jokes are the ones about yourself and your own experiences. After all, everyone loves comedians who know how to get personal. Take a look at the way Tig Notaro spun her double mastectomy into comedy gold.

If You Got Mostly Ds…

You’re Working Blue!

Your raunchy sense of humor may not be safe for work or school, but it is a safe bet for getting a ton of laughs. Your lack of a filter keeps your jokes real and relatable, which is why you are such a conversation magnet in any situation. Just be sure to tone down the jokes in front of the kids. If you want to get a laugh from someone on your wavelength, behold Ali Wong’s take on everything from porn to marriage to underwear.

If You Got Mostly Es…

You’re a Secret Weapon!

You may be a bit on the shy side, yet your sense of humor is anything but quiet. Your introverted personality allows you to be a skillful observer, pulling comedy from all the people and things going on around you. Performing is where you tend to really come alive, so take your jokes out of your head and onto the stage. Look at this performance by Aparna Nancherla, and be sure to take notes.

KAITLIN GOLDIN is a student, writer, actor, and devout McJew based in the Bay Area.  

So what do you think of your results? Let us know on Twitter at @GOLDcmdy!