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!

How-To Start Your Own Comedy YouTube Channel

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


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

6 Ways YOU Can Use Humor Today To Benefit Your Workplace

While the “average” work week in the United States is supposed to be 40 hours, it feels more like two million. The 9-5 crowd spends a substantial portion of their life at their place of work, with people they might not ordinarily choose to be a part of their life. The result is often than in an effort to be businesslike, we tamp down our urges to joke around.

 

I’ll let you in on a secret. Being funny does not equate to being offensive or unbusinesslike. You can be professional, respectful, and hilarious, all at the same time. Your workplace is partly what you make of it, and you can create an amazing bubble of positivity and enthusiasm rippling out from yourself. Not only will it enamor you to your coworkers and benefit your workplace, it will also make you a happier camper.

 

Here’s what humor can do for you and your job — and how you can leverage its benefits.

When you’re trying to build confidence in your team.

Tell a joke or silly story, even if it is at your own expense. Like the time a raccoon broke into your apartment, you called the cops and answered the door in your Star Trek Captain Picard cosplay uniform because, in your freakout, you forgot to change (true story). Or reply to emails with a VEEP or Bridesmaids quote. Why? Coworkers will find you more approachable and feel confident in coming to you for help or asking a question. They won’t fear rebuke, and you’ll encourage their assertiveness.

When you want to build trust and camaraderie amongst coworkers.

Be the person in the meeting who accepts extreme eye-contact from coworkers as a silent affirmation they are not alone. Then slip them a WTF note with a good ol’ “hey girl, this meeting is whack but you aren’t.” You know that feeling when you are sitting in a meeting trying to look all normal on the outside, but in your mind you are screaming, is this happening? Does anyone else think what this person is saying is bananas? Use humor to defuse the situation and let coworkers know they can count on you to be normal, funny, and sane when they need it most. Because, if you’re anything like me, you desperately scan the room to try and make crazy-eye contact and without it, you may lose your mind.

 

When you need to release tension and stress.

Pass out third-grade-style valentines, leave funny anonymous post-it notes in the kitchen, or send out memes as responses to emails. Stress is contagious — but so is laughter. Create an alternative-humor oasis in the office that will bring tension down and remind people that it’s okay to blow off steam. A good laugh helps people relax, feel more positive about situations, and provides perspective. A workplace that decreases stress increases workflow and spreads the positivity.

When you want to reduce turnover.

Lead with a smile. Initiate a protocol that includes everyone creating a Simpsons avatar of themselves. Include cartoons and classic comedy movie clips (safe for work, of course) in materials and presentations. When humor is a baked into the company culture, it generates a positive and powerful work environment. That’s the kind of atmosphere that makes people want to stay, especially in industries usually notorious for their confrontational nature. Be the place people love to be, and they’ll stay loyal.

 

When creative thinking needs a boost.

Treat collaborations like an improv session. When ideas are in their infancy, yes-and them to help them grow. Allow yourself and your team to ask, what if … and then finish it with the biggest, wildest ideas out there. It allows people to think freely and quickly, and it lowers the voice of the inner critic, leading to more out-of-the-box ideas. There is truth in comedy, and ideas that at first seem goofy can be distilled into usable content.

 

When your company needs to stand out.

Include a clever quip, a joke, or cheeky graphic in your materials. Think about the kinds of advertisements, newsletters, social media, videos and marketing campaigns that you remember the most. (Want a great example? Take a look at Noble People. The more you look, the more you find.) Humor is humanizing. It makes your company comes across as more than just a brand.

 

Have anything to add to the list? Let us know @GOLDcmdy!


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

Why you should use humor for success at work: women’s edition

We constantly see (white) men climbing the career ladder by doing (stereo)typical fella stuff: going to happy hour with top brass, taking credit for my ideas (I AM TALKING TO YOU, BRUCE), golf. Whatever the route, there’s one thing seen—and valued—as a constant: Humor. Employees who are perceived as funny—particularly when they are male—are valuable. In fact, 91% of executives believe that having a “good” sense of humor is key to career advancement.

 

For women, however, the path is not as clear. We might muscle our way into drinks or golf, but funny women don’t seem to be appreciated in quite the same way at work (and in general). For one thing, according to SCIENCE, when men say they like women with a sense of humor, they mean women who laugh at their jokes. PLUS: At work (and in general)—”men are more free to bomb,” says comedian Allison Goldberg, who works with Jen Jamula at GoldJam Creative to bring comedy and creativity into workplaces. “Men are just given a lot more leeway for everything. A guy bombs and people forget it, a woman does and people don’t.”

 

So, while you may have been trained to think workplace humor is just for the boys’ club, but it’s actually an essential tool for women trying to get ahead—if you wield it right. Here’s why:

 

Trigger Warning: Situations in which women could make other people laugh, situations in which women are portrayed in remunerative pursuits outside of the home, situations in which women say words and are considered people.

 

Good leaders are funny.

Having a good sense of humor at work allows others to see you as more relatable. A well-timed, work-themed joke will earn you the attention and affection of your fellow employees. It makes you seem confident and laid-back, someone they’d trust as a leader. Just ask Hillary Clinton. JK JK JK (SOB).

Being funny improves communication.

Employees can feel intimidated coming to the boss, or even to a project lead. What’s a good way to appear approachable? Hint: It’s not by smiling, dead-eyed, into the break room as you pass by. It’s by being present, noticing how much effort people are putting in, and making your peeps laugh when it’s needed most. This can usually be achieved by making a joke about a terrible client or customer, but you didn’t hear that from me.

Humor creates bonds within teams.

Laughter in the workplace creates a more relaxed environment overall. A more relaxed (yet still rigorous) environment tends to place less emphasis on maintaining a work-order hierarchy and more on innovation. This means that no one has to be the Jerry/Gary/Larry/Barry of any workplace and you can have an office full of Aprils. AMEA: Always Make Everyone April.

Humor boosts creativity.

Crazy thing about people: When they feel respected and valued, their problem-solving skills increase. It’s this crazy little thing called humanity. Anywho, if you want to create a positive environment where your team solves problems and accomplishes goals, your best strategy should be to not treat people like the stray pills and faded receipts that live at the bottom of your purse. Make ‘em laugh, folks!

Being funny is an asset.

Making others laugh aligns with other positive traits like confidence, competence, and intelligence. A great joke literally has the power to trick your co-workers into thinking you are a good person. No one will have any clue that you don’t recycle and you lied to your doctor about your alcohol consumption.

 

Moving up in your career doesn’t always have to be so cut-and-dried and, well, businesslike. You can have total competence and a relaxed demeanor. This doesn’t mean conforming to what you think your dude co-workers want you to be, or that you should constantly prowl your office looking for yukks. (Here’s a good rule: If someone is already crying, don’t make jokes about them to others. It rarely lands.) But it does mean taking a risk and being yourself. TL;DR: If you are laughing and having a good time while doing your work well, others will take notice. My hard-earned money’s on this: If people like being around you, people will like promoting you.

 

 


Christine Page is an associate producer, writer, and lover of craft beer. A Richmond, Virginia native currently residing in Brooklyn, Christine is very happy to not have gotten mugged yet. Although she would like to note that there is still time. Growing up she had a Spice Girls notebook that she managed to number each page of, but not write anything else in it. That’s normal, right?

How To Do Comedy: A Workshop For Girls + Others

An online course that's actually funny!

OMG! Sign me up!

 


 

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Six Hilarious Ways to Trick Your Co-Workers Into Using Salesforce

In 2015 I was hired by a nonprofit that had spent 20 years living off Excel spreadsheets, Outlook contacts, and Post-Its.  They never once had a database—though they  attempted to convince me that a shared drive counted as one. In less than two years , I managed the creation of their database and trained everyone to use it.  

The entire staff rushed, drooling, at this shiny new system like it was a free buffet. OH WAIT. THEY DIDN’T.  

Getting employees—and workplace habits and culture—to change is hard. So is using humor effectively in the workplace (and so is selling Salesforce as a laugh riot). I decided to use FUNNY to get them on board, and it WORKED. Here’s my tip sheet for how you can do it, too—or just create your own funny disturbance in the ‘Force.

Your best selfie. Every user in the system can upload a picture for their profile. That picture is attached to all your actions and for everyone in the system to see.  
But everyone knows what Zoe from Accounting looks like. So stop using your bland background corporate headshot and start using … baby pictures or the picture that best represents you! I fostered a culture where people were encouraged to be their best picture self. My best self was  a cat with a mustache. Others were cute babies, or awkward prom-goers, or epic Halloween costumes!  When staff are busy updating contacts, seeing a cute kitty staring back makes them smile.   

Pro Tip: As an admin, you can log in AS someone else and set a picture for them!  I used to go in for people’s birthdays and change their picture to celebrate! Or, just because, log in and change their photo to The Rock and his fanny pack to see how long it took  them to figure it out.

Imposter example accounts. For training purposes, admins set up a test contact (person) and account (company) for users to review.  Send John Smith or Jane Doe on permanent vacation and start using your staff’s favorite fictional characters instead! When users are sitting around the conference room table expecting another boring training, make them snicker with an example-profile of Indiana Jones instead.

And don’t just do it a little– go all the way! The fun is always in the details! Me? I went full Darth Vader. I filled out his whole contact profile as though he was a real lead. I wrote things like: Name: Mr. Anakin Skywalker. Title: Supreme Commander of the Imperial Forces. Job: Sith Lord. Address: Darth Vader’s Palace.  Filled out Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa under relationships.  Next task with Darth? For a task I wrote: Follow up email about Death Star. See? Training can be fun.

Wrong is the new right. When a user inputs data incorrectly into a field, a message appear can appear indicating an error. The default message is pretty boring. I started customizing the response to inject some love and personality into the error message.  And you can do this for every field, allowing for endless varieties of pop-up messages. Make a dozen or so different types and scatter them  throughout the system. Tell the staff to find and collect them all.  The winner gets the prize for doing the most things wrong!  While they’re busy Pokémoning Salesforce, you are teaching and engaging them through the magic of fun.

Customize it. Salesforce is so widely adopted because of its customization. Do not waste this amazing capacity. Using persuasive humor to inspire amusement and catalyze action can increase user adoption and accurate data collection. Instead of a field called “Giving Capacity,” why not ask “How Much Money Is In the Banana Stand?” or Find your company’s language and use it.

Bring back AIM! Sorta. “Chatter” is Salesforce’s version of AOL Instant Messenger (RIP). It is a powerful tool for a companies to communicate effectively. You can be in the moment, fix problems, and capitalize on successes. But it only works if people are in the system. Allow staff to chat freely and with their personalities. It doesn’t have to be all memos and agendas. Incentivize by tagging colleagues in funny memes from The Office or links to videos of puppies learning to swim. I used to tag colleagues in Chatter asking them if they’d seen my red swingline stapler. What would you chat?

Back to school. You know that feeling when you feel you finally understood how to do something, then 14 minutes later it’s all changed? That’s Salesforce. It’s constantly being updated, with users having to relearn new policies and procedures. As the administrator at my nonprofit, I was the one who had to both let people know and train them again. I didn’t feel good sending those emails, but I knew I could soften the landing with empathy, acknowledgement, and humor. How? With The Matrix movie clips and Game of Thrones. As in: “If Neo can know kung fu, you’ll know Salesforce.” Or, as Ned Stark said, “Salesforce is coming.” Also chocolate.  They always listen when candy is involved. I’m not above that.

Which one of these are you going to unleash on a coworker? Have any to add to the list? Let us know @GOLDcmdy!


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

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10 non-groaner ways to bring fun into your workplace

I once spent 16 months moving a 20-person non-profit across Manhattan and set up their space and systems from scratch, along with new policies to match. Sound like fun? Actually, I MADE it fun, and not just for me.  Because I am VERY FUN, and I am also very smart. You see, research suggests that “levity” at work is good for morale and good for business. And if you’re seen as someone who helps bring the fun, good for you!

Play name games…

Conference rooms

I worked at a company that named their three conference rooms after The Golden Girls. RESPECT. No “Large Conference Room 2” or Huddle Room room one.” for this joint!  When you went to reserve a conference room, you got to book  “Dorothy,” let’s say—and you got to amuse staff and guests every time.. “Your 2 PM is in Blanche Devereaux!” It never got old.

WiFi

WIFI names and password don’t need to be Guest or Welcome456. Name them after funny things that happen in office life, No Fish in The Microwave or Oops I Replied All.

Printers

 I worked in the operations for a small office.  We had a lot of printers. Five, to be exact. You couldn’t tell them apart. Who is going to remember HP-76876349 is the color copier or the small black and white? I didn’t, and I helped IT network them all for the staff. I decided to name each printer after the great Houses of Westeros.   Pro tip: House Stark is the black and white printer, because there is so little color in the north.  For bonus points, we should have printed and posted correlating sigils. Next time I will.

Passcodes

When our organization moved, we needed to set up new services, one of which was our IT help desk. The help desks requires a verification passcode when a user calls in.  That way they know what company you are from.  Instead of going with old faithful (the company’s name, snore), I opted for famous movie lines. I picked, “Houston, we have a problem” and “Welcome to Jurassic Park”.  Not only did staff smile when every time they said it, but we made the help desk’s day when we called.

 

Say it with pictures….

On signs

For example, offices often have “Employees Must Wash Hands” sign hanging in the bathroom and kitchens.  Replace the sign with a picture instead!  Use Buster Bluth from Arrested Development with his claw hand screaming, “I’m a monster!.”  I’d wash my hands to hang out and stare at the picture just a little longer, wouldn’t you?

In .gifs

If a picture is worth a thousand words, the perfect .gif is worth like eleven thousand! Allow a culture that says it is okay to When appropriate, reply with a well-chosen (and SFW) picture or meme. I used to do it all the time. So much so, I had a desktop folder with my go-to pictures saved, ready to be dragged and dropped at a moment’s notice (time-saving tip!). Some go-tos in my catalogue were: Captain Picard’s “Make it so,” the face of Grumpy Cat, and Baby Fist saying “#Winning,” for when a coworker needed that extra boost.

On profiles

Take advantage of existing but underutilized technology. Most corporate companies use Microsoft Office or Gmail as their operating system. Adding a profile picture to your email is a universal ability, yet so few people do it. Why not implement the policy that your picture is, say, your celebrity doppleganger? (You can set the visibility of the photo to internal so that is really is only an inside joke.)

 

Make it interactive…

In the newsletter

We all log onto the company resource hub or get the weekly HR e-blast—which, let’s face it, is not a page-turner (unless you find notes like don’t forget to hand in your timesheet or remember to book the Dorothy Zbornak conference room via Outlook to be FULL OF SUSPENSE). Why not include quizzes like “Pick your favorite ice cream and we’ll tell you what kind of cat you are”? The more people click, the more you know they opened it that day!

On the website

The website doesn’t have to be all biography and accolades. Why not throw it back to the early 2000s when surveys of random questions about yourself were all the rage?  You know, the ones that ask for your “last book read,” “what you did for your last birthday” or “goal you’d like to achieve this year.” Let each person answer a few different questions, and put it all up on the ABOUT US page.

 

Easter eggs: Always funny.

And it’s always Easter on the office-wide shared drive!

Everyone knows it’s a maze of folders and documents and you spend chunks of your day clicking around to  find the one thing you need. When I set up all those pathways, I made fake folders that contained little mysteries, with names like “Worst Cover Letters Ever Received” and “Money Hidden in the Walls.”  You can put some fake supporting documents in there too, if you want. Let it sit and say nothing.  Then wait until someone in the office finally brings it up! Pro tip: You can see the last time a folder was modified, so you can track who has looked!

So no more sitting in your cube trying to talk yourself out of #SadDeskLunch and realizing you haven’t had fun today. I’m here to share my own successful strategies for finding easy, free—and cringe-free—ways to use already existing policies, software, and procedures to bring good humor and fun to your office every day. There are opportunities all over the place, if you know where to look

Which one of these will you set up in your office? Have any to add to the list? Let us know! 


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

 

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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.

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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?

BE LOUD!

 

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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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.”

Website: www.cathyladman.com

Twitter: CathyLadman

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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.”

 

EXAGGERATION wrench.

  • 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.

 

UNDERSTATEMENT wrench.

  • “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

 

DOUBLE DOWN wrench.

  • 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?