So I recently got into stand up comedy. I mean, that’s probably pretty apparent if you’re on this blog, on my first post, on my new and likely flawed website that was thrown together in a weekend.
And if you’ve known me for longer than a minute, you probably also know that I’ve been thinking about doing this for awhile. Super curious about how to start. Super intimidated. And super inspired by shows like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, real life hilarious comedians like Iliza Shlesinger, and my friend Kelly Shanley.
So fuck it. I did it.
(don’t you love how flip I just acted there? like it was just that easy?)
What I mean, was, that I started. I stopped talking about doing this wildly scary and intimidating thing, and instead put myself out there and arrived with both feet firmly on hypothetical “square one.” I began.
And I want to call out something that’s really fucking pissing me off about it.
Society is overwhelmingly friendly towards the men involved. And sometimes a complete asshat towards the women.
Ok but seriously, I’m in my 40’s. I’ve done a lot of different jobs in a lot of different industries. I’ve had my share of misogynistic jerks cross my path before. But something about this just hits different.
Maybe because it’s so personal. Not only am I, or anyone else who does this, getting up in front of other people on a stage with a microphone, I’m talking about my own stories. My funny moments that I used to share only with those closest to me. My thoughts, my take on things, my tone, my story telling delivery.
And, no surprise to anyone here, it takes so much fine tuning. One word changed, a different inflection on a phrase, a longer pause, and things slowly start to improve. But to improve, you have to practice. And to practice, you have to put yourself out there.
So I did! I am. Kelly had found this amazing place called The Crow. They have a female and non-binary open mic night. Five bucks for five minutes. And it’s supportive and it’s friendly and it’s fun. It’s fun because it’s supportive and friendly. Because guess what? If you fail, who cares! No one is going to laugh at you. I mean, they do laugh at you. Hopefully. But, like, nicely. And supportively. It was started by a talented woman, as a safe and kick ass comedy venue that’s open for everyone to join. So I started going. And I started taping myself. And I created an Instagram account, and this website that you’re currently on, and figured I’d share as I went. I’m not even 5% as good as I want to be yet, but in the words of Elyse Myers, “do it scared.”
So playing around with posts vs. reels on Instagram, I shared a few seconds of a practice set as a reel. Full on disclosure, I don’t think the clip is amazingly funny, but what the hell, right? I want to add some content and I only have what I have. And within five minutes I had more likes than usual….but also one comment I wasn’t used to:
“I think the punch line should be you getting punched in the face.”
My first instinct, which I’m glad I didn’t do, was to delete it. My god I wanted to. I had posted something, a video of me, and a stranger watched and decided to take time out of his day to say I should have have physical violence inflected to my face.
As the kids say, “literally, what the fuck.”
So I shared it with Kelly, and she said yeah this part sucks. I’m sorry it happened, and try to shake it off.
And later she shared with me that she had the same thing happen to her that day, on a reel she posted of herself. Comments like “women aren’t funny” and “make me a sandwich” and “shut up woman.”
Are you fucking kidding me?
After conducting a small survey (ok, we just asked her boyfriend, Zeke, another super funny comedian) – is this happening to male comics, too? Or just women? And he confirmed what we thought.
This overwhelmingly happens to just the women in comedy. It’s misogynistic. It’s rude. It’s awful. And 99% of those people leaving those comments don’t have the balls to even try doing this themselves.
Nothing else I’ve ever done in my life has there been a “norm” for people to come at you so freely, with such hate. Especially for being a woman. Maybe because this is a form of entertainment, so people feel the need to share their negative opinions?
So my take away? If you are also starting out? Find the women of comedy. Find your own Kelly, and your own place like The Crow. And if you can’t find that, create your own. Reach out to make new friends. And yeah grow your thick skin, because I’m sure it’s going to continue to happen. But fuck them. Do it scared, and be brave, and don’t let a few asshats dictate your next moves.
Rewinding even further back, here. Before even starting. I was at an LA comedy show and a hilarious comedian was outside, by himself, after the show. I was chatting with him about how great he was, and gushing on about what I loved about his set. He was obviously eating it up. Who wouldn’t? But when I asked if he had any advice on where to start, I got a very direct “you’re either funny or you’re not.” That’s it. It’s not like he was mean, and it’s certainly not his job to coach me. Zero percent offended.
But just five minutes later, I got the courage to ask the same question to my now-friend funny comedian girl Kelly (that’s actually how I have her listed her in my phone). She also performed that night. And not only did she exchange numbers with me, a few weeks later I had an invite to her backyard comedy night, for both new and experienced comics. This woman owed me nothing. But she was experienced, she was funny, and she was kind.
And even though I was terrified the entire drive to her house, I showed up. And I did it. And it was amazing. No one wanted to punch me in the face that night.
And I was finally at square one.