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Laugh It Up

Meghan Ross

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Name: Meghan Ross

Socials: Twitter/Facebook/Instagram

Why We’re Laughing: Tapping into past experiences and her firsthand understanding of those moments to find the funny, Ross is throwing open the windows of her mind to air out the place, and in doing so, inviting us to wander around inside.

TrunkSpace: Was comedy always in the cards? Were you a “funny” kid, even at an early age?
Ross: Funny-LOOKING. (This is my official resignation from comedy.) I was a comedy nerd growing up, consuming everything from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (I’m the Rhoda) to “Strangers with Candy.” But I wasn’t a confident kid, so I never thought I’d actually perform it. I always tried to be funny though, using humor to cope with being an awkward, hairy Syrian girl among the upper-class Aryan race at my Catholic elementary school.

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to pursue stand-up comedy as a career and did you make a plan for how you would attack things?
Ross: I was writing humor pieces and sketches at the end of college, after interning at TV Without Pity (RIP) and continued when I moved to New York and completed the UCB Advanced Studies improv and sketch programs. After several years of improv shows in bar basements, I realized I should focus more on solo work if I want to turn comedy into a career. I started doing stand-up, wrote my first sitcom pilot and screenplay, and pitched more humor essays during my last couple years in New York before moving to Austin to continue it. I host, write, and produce, an all-women late night show called “That Time of the Month” and one of my priorities this year is to expand it beyond the live stage show.

TrunkSpace: How long did it take for you to discover your voice as a comic?
Ross: I’m still discovering my voice after seven years, but it probably took until this year for me to be more comfortable and consistent with my sets, particularly the monologues I write for “That Time of the Month,” which I’d been doing for about three years. Not too bad considering I’m 10 years old if any big shot Hollywood agents are asking.

TrunkSpace: Is the approach you take now on stage different from the approach you took when you first started out? Is it one act that grew into itself or would you consider them two completely different acts?
Ross: I’d consider them different acts. Even after years of trying other forms of comedy, I wasn’t sure what my stand-up voice would be when I started, so I tried to do observational humor mixed in with personal experiences without thinking of the flow or delivery, which are crucial elements to a set. I still balance those two, but I’m more relaxed and try to be conversational versus before when I was robotic and memorizing out of fear of forgetting jokes. (Thanks to local Austin comic Arielle Norman for this much-needed tip from her workshop!)

TrunkSpace: Is the neon “Open” sign in your brain always turned on, and by that we mean, are you always writing and on alert for new material?
Ross: I’m not trying to force every single life experience into a joke, but I do jot down ideas in my iPhone notes app as stuff comes to me during random moments throughout the week. My notes usually read as a transcription of a fever dream by the time I revisit it later to adapt into material.

TrunkSpace: How much work goes into a joke before it’s ready to be tested out in front of a live audience?
Ross: More hours of doubt and self-loathing than actual preparation. But I do make sure my former writing partner/co-founder of “That Time of the Month,” Liisa Murray, takes a look at my monologues before the show to make sure it’s not entirely nonsense.

TrunkSpace: If a joke doesn’t seem to be working, how many chances do you give it in a live setting before you decide to rework it or move on from it altogether?
Ross: I’m not married to any of my new jokes (commitment issues) so I usually only give it one more chance before reworking or dropping it completely.

TrunkSpace: Is it possible to kill one night and bomb the next with essentially the same set, and if so, what do you chalk that up as?
Ross: Of course, and it could honestly be a range of different factors, from your own delivery of the jokes, to how warm the audience is once you get on stage.

I once performed a weird bit at a show in Austin (where I didn’t know anyone yet) that killed and then did that same bit a week later at a show in New York (where I did know a bunch of people) and it bombed. My first guess was because the Austin show was experimental, the host helps manage the audience’s expectations that comedians are trying out stuff they’ve never done before, outside of traditional stand-up. My second guess was the audience in New York hated my stinking guts.

TrunkSpace: Does a receptive and willing audience fuel your fire of funny and help to put you on your game for the rest of your set?
Ross: Definitely, because it makes it easier to play off of their energy and even stray a bit from my set, improvising new lines from what they’re reacting strongest to in the performance. But I’ve learned not to be dependent on the audience for that every time because if the energy isn’t there, it’s still on me to finish my set strong. They’ll notice when I’m nervous or lose confidence in my material.

Photo By: Tess Cagle

TrunkSpace: What is your most memorable performance experience (good or bad!) that will stick with you for the rest of your career and why?
Ross: Last year after my Aunt Dawn, who I was really close with, passed away, I dedicated an episode of “That Time of the Month” to her, including a monologue memorializing her. I was nervous about performing an emotional comedy set, but it ended up being very therapeutic during a tough time.

TrunkSpace: How do you handle hecklers? What approach do you take?
Ross: I track down a place they like to frequent, such as a coffee shop or public park, stage a meet cute, date them for several years, establish a level of intimacy and unbreakable bond that leads to marriage, get pregnant, move into a refurbished farmhouse upstate to raise our kids, build a life for ourselves over a span of five decades, care for them in their old age, and just as they’re lying on their death bed and we’re sharing our last moment together, I lean over and whisper-scream, “IT’S NOT YOUR FUCKING TURN TO TALK.”

TrunkSpace: What are your thoughts on the stand-up landscape in 2018? Are you optimistic for the future of live comedy?
Ross: I’m excited about diverse voices finally getting the bigger platforms they deserve and I hope the industry continues to recognize them for it. On a separate thought, while it’s gotten a lot easier to put your material out there through different mediums, we’re now watching a lot of those mediums go away, such as with many humor sites shuttering in the past few years. I’m curious to see how comedy scenes adapt to these changes and what the next wave of comedy in the digital age will bring. That last sentence felt like a sound bite from a stammering TV exec at an upfront presentation for pilots adapted from Instagram Stories that will all be canceled by the end of this other sentence.

TrunkSpace: Finally, who do YOU find funny?
Ross: Kate Berlant & John Early, Aparna Nancherla, Jo Firestone, Jenny Slate, Ali Wong, Michelle Wolf, Jessica Williams, Chelsea Peretti, Keep It! (Ira Madison III, Kara Brown, Louis Virtel), my dog Dreidel.

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Laugh It Up

John Poveromo

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Name: John Poveromo

Socials: Twitter/Facebook/Instagram

Why We’re Laughing: Superb writing combined with the kind of relaxed presence behind the microphone that puts an audience at ease, Poveromo delivers on a brand of funny that builds within the set, transforming external laughter into internal contemplation that lasts well after you leave the club.

TrunkSpace: Was comedy always in the cards? Were you a funnykid, even at an early age?
Poveromo: The short answer is, yes. (Laughter) The slightly longer answer is, I grew up around funny people, who all had different kinds of funny. My dad was sort of ‘life of the party’ funny, while my mom and her side of the family were very clever funny. My great aunt and uncle were from Brooklyn and no one could tell a story better than they could. They knew exactly where to inject humor into a story, and could tell it the same way every time. So in a lot of ways I grew up trying to emulate all of them. I remember laughing a lot, and thinking it was something I should bring back to the classroom, much to my teachers’ chagrin.

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to pursue stand-up comedy as a career and did you make a plan for how you would attack things?
Poveromo: I decided to do it after my first semester of college was over. I had never wanted to go to college in the first place, but that’s what you did. Doing anything else seemed like it was a one way ticket to pumping gas for the rest of my life. At least that’s what my math teachers lead me to believe. I wound up giving stand-up a shot and was hooked right away. I dropped out of college, got a full time job at a bank (as you do), and did stand-up after work and on the weekends on any stage that would have me. My thought process was, I could spend four years at a place that was designed to hammer square pegs into round holes, or I could have 10 years as a comedian under my belt by the time I’m 30 and do something I love for the rest of my life.

TrunkSpace: How long did it take for you to discover your voice as a comic?
Poveromo: I think it changes over time just like everything else. I think I had a voice in my 20s and now it’s evolving more so as I’m in the beginning of my 30s. For me it was more of a struggle of chipping away at everything that wasn’t authentically me on stage as I was off. Not to say I’m on all the time, but if you meet me off stage I’m the same guy.

TrunkSpace: Is the approach you take now on stage different from the approach you took when you first started out? Is it one act that grew into itself or would you consider them two completely different acts?
Poveromo: The act is always evolving, but when I started I definitely would go on stage and wing it a lot. I had some ideas of where I wanted to go and what punchlines I wanted to hit, but I liked putting myself on the spot. I felt it was more important to be fast on my feet than it was to rehearse the same five minutes, club to club. As of right now my act is about justifying my own existence.

TrunkSpace: Is the neon “Open” sign in your brain always turned on, and by that we mean, are you always writing and on alert for new material?
Poveromo: I have that little notes app on my iPhone always primed and ready to go. I’ve got joke ideas and notes stored in there from 2011. Actually, I just recently sat down with a friend of mine who has a knack for organizing and he put everything into this crazy excel spreadsheet catalog thing for me. It’s really incredible. I’m not an organized person so this helped a lot.

TrunkSpace: How much work goes into a joke before its ready to be tested out in front of a live audience?
Poveromo: Wait, wait hold up… there’s supposed to be work involved? Hoo-boy, am I in trouble.

Usually I’ll have an idea for a joke, find out where I can squeeze it into the act and see where it takes me on stage. I’m constantly trying new stuff, if I don’t I get really bored up there.

TrunkSpace: If a joke doesnt seem to be working, how many chances do you give it in a live setting before you decide to rework it or move on from it altogether?
Poveromo: Every comic has a joke they love that’s never worked on stage. Or works like once every three months. I think jokes can be reworked all the time and there’s some that have taken me years to perfect. At this point I know what will and won’t work on stage, but if I had to give it a time limit before you toss a joke, I’d say three times with three different audiences. If it’s still not getting the response you need, you gotta sideline it for the time being.

TrunkSpace: Is it possible to kill one night and bomb the next with essentially the same set, and if so, what do you chalk that up as?
Poveromo: Yup. Did it the other night actually. It was a showcase show and I was closing it out. The audience was only there to see their friend and they were tired by the time I got up. The set was the same jokes that killed opening for Gilbert Gottfried a couple weekends before but I was getting nothing from the audience. There’s one joke in particular that I was thinking of posting on my Instagram as an example of how a joke can crush one night and get crickets the next.

TrunkSpace: Does a receptive and willing audience fuel your fire of funny and help to put you on your game for the rest of your set?
Poveromo: Absolutely. The audience is a far bigger part of the show than they think sometimes. I had a weekend of shows mother’s day weekend, which is notoriously slow. The first night there were only 12 people in the audience but they were 12 people who really loved comedy and came for a good show and we had an absolute blast together. The next night we had about 40 people who you would have thought were taken hostage and forced to watch the show. Those are the nights when it feels like work.

TrunkSpace: What is your most memorable performance experience (good or bad!) that will stick with you for the rest of your career and why?
Poveromo: Hands down, opening up for Jimmy Fallon when I was still a baby comic. It was my first time opening for a national headliner. He was on tour prepping to take over “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and he had come back to his home club, Bananas in Poughkeepsie, NY. We did five sold out shows together and he couldn’t have been nicer, or funnier. I met his family and they praised my set, which was amazing because I really got a sense that they understood what it’s like for the new guy coming up since Jimmy was so young when he started. Something like that will keep you going for a while.

TrunkSpace: How do you handle hecklers? What approach do you take?
Poveromo: I don’t get a ton of hecklers. Not the hecklers you see comics “battling” it out with on YouTube. I perform all over the country and honestly it doesn’t happen that often. I do engage with the crowd a lot though and when that happens they tend to get overly drunk and chatty but I just handle them in a very playful way. It’s fun watching them dig their own graves.

TrunkSpace: What are your thoughts on the stand-up landscape in 2018? Are you optimistic for the future of live comedy?
Poveromo: Stand-up comedy is more important now than it’s ever been. We need comedians who are willing to push limits, cross lines, and take us to places that make us uncomfortable and laugh at the same time. We’re in Trump’s America right now, and in that America it really does seem like comics are the only ones able to cut through all the bullshit and get to what’s really going on in the world. He seems to have forced both sides of the isle into their corners to the point where liberals can no longer tell the difference between jokes and statements, while conservatives have cornered the market on the victim game. It’s kind of a weird time for comedy, though I’m staying optimistic. There’s that whole Samantha Bee thing going on right now and she’s brilliant and funny, but I really wish she hadn’t apologized for the joke about Ivanka. She apologized and called it inappropriate. Comedians are supposed to be inappropriate. Racist? No. Inappropriate? Yes. In her case, it’s her job to be inappropriate while making a point. If there’s people who can’t comprehend that, fuck’em. You know? There’s a reason why entertainers, especially comedians, don’t work at the Gap. If we wanted to let the cul-de-sac culture dictate what we do and say the rest of our lives, that’s where we’d be.

TrunkSpace: Finally, who do YOU find funny?
Poveromo: I could list a bunch of famous comics who I and everyone else I know admire here, but they get enough press. I’ve got a lot of close friends in comedy and because we’re always working the clubs and the road we don’t get to see each other a lot, but when we do it’s a blast. Just recently I got to hang out with one of my closest friends and big brothers in comedy, Joe Starr, who came to watch me at Governor’s and wound up doing two guest sets – showing us all how the fuck it’s done. Another close friend of mine, Carole Montgomery, is in Los Angeles right now touring her stand-up show, “Women Of A Certain Age,” which is incredibly funny so if you get the chance, go see it! I just got to meet and work with Taylor Tomlinson for the first time who is fucking hysterical. Then there’s my friends Joanne Filan, Ryan Metzger, Vinnie Nardiello, Ty Raney, Jess Alaimo – who are all great comics from Jersey.

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Laugh It Up

Emily Winter

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Photo By: Phil Provencio

Name: Emily Winter

Socials: Twitter/Instagram

Why We’re Laughing: Smooth and polished like a precious stone, Winter delivers comedy gems for any season. Rain or shine, hot or cold, you will laugh yourself silly.

TrunkSpace: Was comedy always in the cards? Were you a “funny” kid, even at an early age?
Winter: NO times a million. My mom is pretty adamant that I was NOT a funny child, and I had no interest in comedy until I was in middle school and started watching “Seinfeld” and “Friends” and hanging out with a very funny girl, which sort of blew my mind because I thought “funny” was for boys. Even when I figured out that I liked comedy and could be funny, I didn’t realize that I wanted to pursue comedy – or that it would be a viable option for me – until after college.

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to pursue stand-up comedy as a career and did you make a plan for how you would attack things?
Winter: After college I was working as a news reporter in Wisconsin, but spending all my free time trying to write a comedy pilot. So after just three months of being a reporter, I quit, moved to my parents’ home in Illinois, worked at the mall and took a script writing class at a college in Chicago. From there, I applied for an internship at “The Colbert Report,” got it, and moved to New York. I only had to waitress in Times Square for a few months before getting a job as a Vogue contributing editor’s writing assistant, and that allowed me to afford to stay in New York and work on comedy writing. It would take five more years for me to get the guts to go on stage. I never saw myself as a stand-up, but it’s hard to break into professional comedy writing without being part of the comedy community. I figured I would try stand-up to boost my writing career, but I (surprisingly) fell in love with it from the first time I took the stage.

TrunkSpace: How long did it take for you to discover your voice as a comic?
Winter: Some days I feel like I still don’t know who I am or what my voice is! But I’d say it took me two years to start getting comfortable on stage, then three more to really open up and add some performative range. I feel like my point of view was relatively set from the beginning, but that’s because I was older than most when I started doing stand-up, and I had already lived through the years of discovering your identity, beliefs, politics, and sense of humor. And by starting late, I’d also (mostly) grown out of the urge to say things for shock value alone.

TrunkSpace: Is the approach you take now on stage different from the approach you took when you first started out? Is it one act that grew into itself or would you consider them two completely different acts?
Winter: I used to write my jokes out. I couldn’t conceive of any other way to create an act. Now I do a mix of free writing and just blabbing at lightly attended shows to find new material.

I think I still use one joke from my first few years, but most of my old material is just not that good. My act is always evolving – I keep things I like, I chuck jokes I’m sick of or jokes that don’t get as many laughs. And I weave old jokes into new ideas.

TrunkSpace: Is the neon “Open” sign in your brain always turned on, and by that we mean, are you always writing and on alert for new material?
Winter: Yes and no. Since I’m a writer too, I spend a lot of time thinking, “Where does this comedic idea belong? Is it a tweet? A stand-up joke? A New Yorker submission? A pilot? A graphic? A sketch? A text to my boyfriend? A slideshow? A game? A one-off themed live show? A character? A song?” Trying to figure out a place for an idea is a challenge in itself, and that takes up a lot of my time and mental hard drive, both when I’m awake and asleep. (I dream about the mundane parts of comedy almost every night. It’s a little embarrassing.) But I do think it’s important to be able to stop seeing the world through the lens of “how can I use this for comedy.” Sometimes you just have to be a person and genuinely connect with the world and people around you. Otherwise you are a sociopath.

TrunkSpace: How much work goes into a joke before it’s ready to be tested out in front of a live audience?
Winter: Not a lot! If I have a new idea I’m excited about, I’ll try it that night, unless it’s a high stakes show: one that’s super packed, or attended by particular people I’m trying to impress, or if I’m being paid well to be on my A game. But typically, I’ll start with solid material, test out new material in the middle of my set, and then end with more crowd-pleasing material. This allows me to see if a new joke has legs without it tanking my entire set.

TrunkSpace: If a joke doesn’t seem to be working, how many chances do you give it in a live setting before you decide to rework it or move on from it altogether?
Winter: If a joke isn’t working at all, I’ll probably kill it after about three tries. If parts of it are getting some laughs, I’ll keep working on it, either until I find something I like better, or it gets polished up into good material.

TrunkSpace: Is it possible to kill one night and bomb the next with essentially the same set, and if so, what do you chalk that up as?
Winter: Yes! There are so many variables every time you perform: audience members, audience size, age of audience, room setup, temperature, mic volume, lighting, stage height, what you’re wearing, how you’re feeling, the host, where you are in the lineup, state, city, and neighborhood you’re performing in, how you’re introduced… the list goes on and on. Your job as a comedian is to try to navigate all of these variables, but there is no “right” way to do that. For every show, the answer is different. That’s what makes every show a unique experience, even when the material is the same.

TrunkSpace: Does a receptive and willing audience fuel your fire of funny and help to put you on your game for the rest of your set?
Winter: Hell yeah! As a comedian, you always walk into a showroom hoping the audience will be warm and receptive. If you can get a collective energy going, it creates an almost tangible buzz in the room. This is why show hosts are always trying to get people to sit in the front row – they’re trying to fill in the space between the comedian and the farthest laughter to create a unifying, collective electricity. So fill in those seats! The entire show will improve!

Photo By: Steve Shohl

TrunkSpace: What is your most memorable performance experience (good or bad!) that will stick with you for the rest of your career and why?
Winter: Ah man! One time pretty early on I was bombing my dick off at a show, and then suddenly I got a HUGE laugh. I was thrilled that a joke had finally worked, even though I continued to eat it for the rest of my time on stage. When I got off stage, I realized a button was missing from my dress. Another comic informed me that it had popped off during a punchline, revealing my bra, and that’s why everyone had been laughing. That moment will keep me humble for the rest of my career.

TrunkSpace: How do you handle hecklers? What approach do you take?
Winter: Kill them with kindness. My first tactic is to kindly ask a heckler to stop. Sometimes, audience thinks comedians like it when you heckle, and they just need to be educated. If that doesn’t work, I’ll usually say something to let them know that I’m not happy, but will also get a laugh and keep the mood up. For example, I’ve told men, “You’re so handsome. It’s too bad you’re so annoying.” If that doesn’t work, I’d probably signal for the show’s host to ask them to leave. Luckily, I’ve never been in a position where I’ve felt threatened by a heckler who refused to leave and there was no one around to kick him out, but I know that stuff happens.

TrunkSpace: What are your thoughts on the stand-up landscape in 2018? Are you optimistic for the future of live comedy?
Winter: I live in Brooklyn, and the market is soooooo oversaturated right now. There are too many shows and too many comedians. It’s great that there are always shows to do, but it’s a pain to produce quality shows when you’re competing with other shows in the same neighborhood – or even on the same block! One positive thing is that the Brooklyn scene has been very dedicated to diversifying lineups. You won’t see an all-white, all-male lineup in Brooklyn the way you did just five years ago, which is awesome. A diversity of voices is what makes a comedy show great.

TrunkSpace: Finally, who do YOU find funny?
Winter: Some comedians I love and admire are Mary Mack, Ophira Eisenberg, Josh Gondelman, Kyle Kinane, Aparna Nancherla, Jo Firestone, and Chris Calogero. I love Chris so much that I hunted him down and made him my boyfriend!

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Laugh It Up

Johnny Azari

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Name: Johnny Azari

Socials: Twitter/Facebook/Instagram

Why We’re Laughing: Combining a bad boy persona with a social commentary spin that cats like Lenny Bruce and George Carlin made iconic to their comedic brand, Azari is saying things that he hopes will resonate beyond punchlines.

TrunkSpace: Was comedy always in the cards? Were you a “funny” kid, even at an early age?
Azari: As a kid all my teachers called me a “good kid with bad behavior.” Still not entirely sure what that means. I think I was always a comedian. It was just that nobody pulled me aside and told me that that was what I was doing – they just called me an asshole.

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to pursue stand-up comedy as a career and did you make a plan for how you would attack things?
Azari: I fell into comedy from touring the country singing sad, sad blues music. I would be in dive bars in towns like Evolution Is Illegal, Idaho, just bumming everyone out. So in between songs I try and chipper things up. Didn’t take long ‘til the banter became the show. So in July of 2015 I made the conscious choice to just do stand-up without the music. That’s when I stopped my tour and did a month of mics in Chicago. I haven’t looked back since.

TrunkSpace: How long did it take for you to discover your voice as a comic?
Azari: I don’t think you ever stop looking for it. Your voice changes as you grow as a human being. But I knew from the get I wanted to be a rebel comic, outlaw and going after the truth and society’s hypocrisy. Observational day to day, “this is why I’m a loser” comedy never appealed to me. I feel like we are manufacturing our own extinction as a species currently and there just isn’t time for any art to address anything but that. But that’s me – a self righteous prick who’ll whore out the revolution to get his fireman smackled.

TrunkSpace: Is the approach you take now on stage different from the approach you took when you first started out? Is it one act that grew into itself or would you consider them two completely different acts?
Azari: I think my narrative hasn’t changed much. The growth has been in learning to cut the fat and keep every sentence funny, or at least try to. Also as I progress I’m leaning more toward cleaner comedy. It’s harder and when done right way funnier, and, you can reach a larger audience. Dirty is always there if you want it. She follows you around like a three-legged dog. Clean takes a lot of thought and skill.

TrunkSpace: Is the neon “Open” sign in your brain always turned on, and by that we mean, are you always writing and on alert for new material?
Azari: It has been until recently. I did 36 shows in 27 days over 8,000 miles and four states. I was grinding the first draft of the new hour together in that time. When I got back home from that I turned everything off. Xanax, Netflix, and forcing my wife to fuck me while I lay on my back and sob for two weeks. But normally I don’t stop writing. I can’t stop if I want to. My brain just grinds constantly. Thank God I found comedy, a perfect outlet for the neurotic.

TrunkSpace: How much work goes into a joke before it’s ready to be tested out in front of a live audience?
Azari: Depends on how I feel about it. Most of them I finish pretty fast.

TrunkSpace: If a joke doesn’t seem to be working, how many chances do you give it in a live setting before you decide to rework it or move on from it altogether?
Azari: Three to five.

TrunkSpace: Is it possible to kill one night and bomb the next with essentially the same set, and if so, what do you chalk that up as?
Azari: That happens for sure. Though when you do it all the time it doesn’t feel like bombing anymore because you aren’t filled with the fear and terror that normally comes with bombing. After you do a bit enough times to know it works, when it doesn’t land or certain parts don’t hit, you know it’s the room and then you have to start playing the game to twist their minds into your narrative so similar jokes later in the set won’t die.

TrunkSpace: Does a receptive and willing audience fuel your fire of funny and help to put you on your game for the rest of your set?
Azari: Of course. A performer can only give the room what the room gives them. If the room feels like a roofied fat chick you have to carry to bed, then that’s how your set feels. But if they are lively and know they are at a comedy show and that their feelings don’t matter in that room, then you can have a lot of fun.

TrunkSpace: What is your most memorable performance experience (good or bad!) that will stick with you for the rest of your career and why?
Azari: I played a nudist colony once as a musical act. I closed by getting naked and singing “Blowin’ in The Wind” by Bob Dylan. They did not think it was funny. Fucking hippies.

TrunkSpace: How do you handle hecklers? What approach do you take?
Azari: I can very easily get to evil very fast so I have to check myself. Usually I can ignore it and pretend I didn’t hear. If that doesn’t work then I ask nicely. Then I talk to them like a child. If they continue, I go Adolf Hitler on their ass and make the room seriously tense. I have a bunch of handles, none of them are funny because fuck you for interrupting a staged performance.

TrunkSpace: What are your thoughts on the stand-up landscape in 2018? Are you optimistic for the future of live comedy?
Azari: Comedy is booming. It’s more popular than it’s ever been. I love seeing the range and explosion in the art. It makes me happy that there is so much to laugh at.

TrunkSpace: Finally, who do YOU find funny?
Azari: My dad. He’s a funny fuck. Besides him, all the people that every other comic says inspires them. (Laughter)

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Ellory Smith

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Name: Ellory Smith

Socials: Twitter/Instagram

Why We’re Laughing: Smith’s brand of personal comedy serves as a tour guide through her emotional pain and shows us all that even in darkness there are slivers of light to be found.

TrunkSpace: Was comedy always in the cards? Were you a “funny” kid, even at an early age?
Smith: I wasn’t funny as a kid, but I was definitely odd. I didn’t have a lot of friends and spent a lot of time in my own head. I always knew I wanted to write, and thought for a long time I’d go into poetry or creative writing or something. My senior year of high school, I started doing stand-up and realized there was a way to utilize my love for writing and need for attention that didn’t have the sort of… pretentious review process that creative writing sometimes involves.

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to pursue stand-up comedy as a career and did you make a plan for how you would attack things?
Smith: I was studying Writing for Television and Film at Emerson College, and doing stand up two to three times a week. I was paying attention in class, but really only my writing classes. I knew I wanted to be a comic and write for television, that I wanted both of those things. I couldn’t see another option. I had read enough about people in the field to know that if this was something I wanted, I had to go after it as though I was training for a marathon. Writing a lot, performing a lot, putting aside anything that wasn’t comedy – at least at first. When I moved to LA to finish college, I immediately upped how often I did stand-up. I began going up four to five times a week, and seeing shows on weekends. It became my entire life, to the detriment of some things (friendships, relationships) but it was all I wanted, and it felt like I could never have enough of it.

TrunkSpace: How long did it take for you to discover your voice as a comic?
Smith: I’ll let you know once I find it. I’m six years in now, so give me another six and hopefully I’ll have gotten it down.

TrunkSpace: Is the approach you take now on stage different from the approach you took when you first started out? Is it one act that grew into itself or would you consider them two completely different acts?
Smith: I think when I started, I was so young I was just trying to imitate comedians I loved. I was doing just observational material, nothing raw or honest or interesting. Now I try to be more open with the audience, I am still worried that they don’t love me or think I’m funny, but first and foremost I want them to know that I am here and in pain and ready to talk with them about the things that make me most human. It’s a fine line to walk, when people see comedy they are looking for an escape, they don’t want to hear about my trauma necessarily. But I’m up there looking for connection and love and validation, and maybe that’s too much to ask for, but I’m going to keep asking for it anyway.

TrunkSpace: Is the neon “Open” sign in your brain always turned on, and by that we mean, are you always writing and on alert for new material?
Smith: I write everything down all day long. When my father was dying, I wrote down every detail. Not necessarily for stand-up, just to remember it. I guess it’s a way to not cope with the things going on around me. But, then I have the notes for later and I can mine them for something funny. I do this at gas stations, grocery stores, funerals. Ultimately, it’s rude. But my note pad and I are one in the same and where I go it will be.

TrunkSpace: How much work goes into a joke before it’s ready to be tested out in front of a live audience?
Smith: Stand-up is like an experimental science. There are a lot of variables to getting something right. A joke is ready when you’ve written it, and you will only find out if it works through performing it. That’s what open mics are for!

TrunkSpace: If a joke doesn’t seem to be working, how many chances do you give it in a live setting before you decide to rework it or move on from it altogether?
Smith: If I am in love with a joke, but after five or six tries in front of different audiences it doesn’t work, I table it until I can find a better take. Or I bring it to someone I know is funnier than I am who will help me find what is going wrong. That being said, a good artist knows when they have shitty work and is able to move on from it.

TrunkSpace: Is it possible to kill one night and bomb the next with essentially the same set, and if so, what do you chalk that up as?
Smith: Absolutely! It’s easy to blame the audience for this, but again, there are a lot of different variables. Maybe you weren’t as confident, maybe they weren’t paying attention, maybe your tone was off and when they weren’t laughing you got hostile. It could be anything. I think it’s important to pay attention to WHAT went wrong so you can fix it for next time, and not take any of it too personally. (Easier said than done!)

TrunkSpace: Does a receptive and willing audience fuel your fire of funny and help to put you on your game for the rest of your set?
Smith: A good audience is both like having the most intimate conversation and playing a very good game of tennis. You can ping something to them and have the audience send it right back. It is wonderful, it will only raise your confidence, making you more daring, more willing to try risky material. It is nice to feel trusted.

TrunkSpace: What is your most memorable performance experience (good or bad!) that will stick with you for the rest of your career and why?
Smith: One time a man threw some of those Mardi Gras beads at me while I was on stage which is a few different layers of rude.

TrunkSpace: How do you handle hecklers? What approach do you take?
Smith: I cry very hard until they apologize to me.

TrunkSpace: What are your thoughts on the stand-up landscape in 2018? Are you optimistic for the future of live comedy?
Smith: I personally am excited for it! People seem to be enjoying stand-up a lot, it’s getting very popular. I think it’s a good thing that homophobic, transphobic material is getting less acceptable. Hopefully we’ll be moving towards a more accepting space, and away from “I hate my wife and mother-in-law” tropes.

TrunkSpace: Finally, who do YOU find funny?
Smith: Pain, loss, love, fart noises.

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Maxi Witrak

MaxiWitrakFeatured

Name: Maxi Witrak

Website: www.maxiwitrak.com

Socials: Twitter/Instagram

Why We’re LaughingWitrak’s subtle and subdued delivery allows for the punchlines to sneak up on you, often tickling your funny bone well after she has already moved on in her set, making for a surprising game of comedic catch up!

TrunkSpace: Was comedy always in the cards? Were you a “funny” kid, even at an early age?
Witrak: I was never the class clown or cool enough to be “the funny one.” Usually I was the one making a weird joke that all the cool kids kind of made a side eye at me for. One day after a joke one of these girls sort of goes quiet, squints at me, and goes, “…OHHHHH, you’re being FUNNY!” And it was like this whole time she/they hadn’t realized they were jokes and after that I made sense to them.

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to pursue stand-up comedy as a career and did you make a plan for how you would attack things?
Witrak: At first I liked sketch and improv, but those all demanded too much extra time of trying to organize people before even getting to get down to the work. As someone also pursuing acting and trying to have a life I thought of trying stand-up so that I could just rely on myself.

When I started, I thought I could bypass the slog of open mics by trying to out-write the process. The thought of staying up late night after night sounded miserable to me. So I was doing real shows every few weeks as my only stage time and was awful, of course. Somewhere in there I decided to stop being casual about it and let myself care enough to go for it. Every day I’m doing something towards it – writing, doing an open mic, doing a show, seeing a show, even if it’s just watching standup online. I literally check off each day that I’ve done something.

I think when I realized stand-up was my passion though was when going to the shows I would get insanely jealous of the comics. Just aching to get to be up there whether I was good or bad. I think if you find anything where you’re looking at the big sharks doing their thing and all you want to do is swim with them, even if you get torn to shreds, that’s how you know you want it.

TrunkSpace: How long did it take for you to discover your voice as a comic?
Witrak: I’m still discovering it, every set. Sometimes I’ll watch a comic’s special and find that my entire set that night has picked up their accent, if you will. What I always try to steer back to is, who do I most want to get to be? What kind of person am I most jealous of because it seems like they’re having the most fun?

TrunkSpace: Is the approach you take now on stage different from the approach you took when you first started out? Is it one act that grew into itself or would you consider them two completely different acts?
Witrak: When I first started out, I’d describe myself as the poor man’s Amy Schumer. A lot of crude dick jokes and dad incest one-liners just because I was trying out the misdirect and play on words for the first time. I was also completely cut off from the audience, like I was reciting a presentation.

A lot of times I really want to fall back on the comfortable feeling of knowing each line by rote, but I’m starting to move into the space where I can just talk to the audience and be comfortable relying on myself to be my own parachute. Either method could kill or flop, but only one of them is exciting and worthwhile to me.

TrunkSpace: Is the neon “Open” sign in your brain always turned on, and by that we mean, are you always writing and on alert for new material?
Witrak: Always. I’m known for making myself a quick note on my phone anytime something funny or strange happens (or, since the damn iPhone Notes slowdown, scribbling on my hand). It’s got to be annoying as hell for my poor friends – because as much as I want to enjoy the laugh in the moment my wheels are already turning for how to spin it into a bit.

TrunkSpace: How much work goes into a joke before it’s ready to be tested out in front of a live audience?
Witrak: I’ll take something to an open mic as soon as I think of it. Sometimes it’s a half thought that occurred to me as I’m getting ready to go on stage, sometimes I’ve dumped three pages of word vomit on one theme into my laptop and have to start sifting through all that rubble for the tiny viable chunks that emerge by talking through it out loud. If I can talk through my thought process and get some response from the other comics, I know there’s something there and just have to keep tightening and tightening it ‘til I get it clean. Usually it crystallizes within a few mics; sometimes I have to go back to the writing table and squint at it ‘til I dig the final version out. But I don’t like to invest the time in getting it 100 percent lean before taking it to a mic and sizing up whether it’s viable in the first place.

TrunkSpace: If a joke doesn’t seem to be working, how many chances do you give it in a live setting before you decide to rework it or move on from it altogether?
Witrak: I don’t put much store in the volume of reactions at an open mic, but if I’ve done something in front of a live audience two to three times and already taken a closer look to see whether I’ve set it up in a way that just isn’t making sense from the audience’s perspective, I’ll scrap it. I keep everything in case some bit of it is salvageable as an observation but sometimes by abandoning it for a few months I inadvertently end up writing a bit with a different premise that absorbs it.

TrunkSpace: Is it possible to kill one night and bomb the next with essentially the same set, and if so, what do you chalk that up as?
Witrak: Totally possible. I try to avoid blaming the audience but they have probably the most to do with it. I used to be a very competitive horseback rider and when I would get frustrated for a bad ride my trainer would always say “don’t blame the horse.” AKA, take responsibility for it, and use it to make you better. If you’re always blaming the audience or the writing of the scene or the horse, you’re never going to turn that awareness inward and make the needed changes to improve.

But yes, it is totally possible to have just a crap audience. Often it’s the environment – something in the circumstances have psychologically set them up to be poor audience members during your set. Time of night, demographics of the audience, quality of the venue’s food, whether there’s a door that keeps opening and closing and grabbing attention, seating arrangement, etc. Sometimes the setup makes the audience feel like they’re at a play and afraid to make noise rather than being active participants. I’ve done some painful sets in makeshift venues.

TrunkSpace: Does a receptive and willing audience fuel your fire of funny and help to put you on your game for the rest of your set?
Witrak: Absolutely. The more confident you are, the more fun you’re having up there, the more you start reaching for those bold choices or improvised moments that take it to the next level.

TrunkSpace: What is your most memorable performance experience (good or bad!) that will stick with you for the rest of your career and why?
Witrak: I finished a set one time and one of the male comics on the show came up to pay me all sorts of compliments about my writing. He offered to help get me on his friend’s show because he thought I was really funny, then immediately undercut it with “and you’re pretty cute, so sure.” I think any female reading this knows the precise and insidious difference I mean between a compliment on your appearance and a compliment on your appearance at the expense of the rest of you. Someone hitting on me doesn’t send me into a rage. Someone bullshitting me about the thing I’m working my ass off for does.

It reminded me that even though the comedy circles are small and it might feel like I constantly have to put up with that type, I can still choose who I invest my time and respect in, and I’m really lucky to have met quite a few bonafide good human beings so far. I do my best to surround myself with the genuine good guys who treat me like just another comic and not just a “female comic.”

TrunkSpace: How do you handle hecklers? What approach do you take?
Witrak: I’ve had people disrupt a show but never outright heckle. Hating on an audience member is off-brand for me; I want everyone to have a good time. And if I shame someone outright, the whole audience is going to shrink inside themselves. I try to bring everyone in on the joke including the person who’s causing the problem, like they’re the drunk friend we’re humoring by giving a final beer while taking their keys from them.

TrunkSpace: What are your thoughts on the stand-up landscape in 2018? Are you optimistic for the future of live comedy?
Witrak: Living in LA spoils me, because no matter what type of comic you are, you have a place to work on your craft. For the individual comic, it’s difficult to find a niche, especially given how being clean or not can funnel you different places. But for comedy as a whole, both branches further the craft in their own way; the clean ones have to come up with smarter stuff in order to work within those constraints, while the blue comics can explore and blow up existing boundaries.

I’m hoping that people will continue to come see standup live; it still seems like such a mystery to most people who aren’t in it. I’ve overheard audience members say they’ve heard a comic “do that bit before” and complain about jokes being repeated. I don’t think they realize that as easy and improvised as a skilled comic may make a bit seem, each of those five minutes were painstakingly crafted over time. Or for people who like to listen to comedy albums, it’s like owning a CD versus going to a concert. You’re getting the shiny studio-perfect version while only the people who show up at the live show get that unique, shared, imperfect experience with the magic of in-the-moment discoveries.

TrunkSpace: Finally, who do YOU find funny?
Witrak: Tig Notaro, any day of the week. She is so unbelievably present – she does not let a single bit of roadkill go under her tire without getting out of the car to inspect it. There are comics I love who write hilarious bits and make me laugh out loud from behind my laptop when I’m home needing some inspiration. But she is truly for me the embodiment of Steve Martin’s opinion that people come to know a comic’s “taste” and that’s what they come to see. Or what Garry Shandling scribbled in his journals – people don’t care what song Elvis is singing, they came to hear him be the one singing. Tig has brilliant bits, obviously, but she could be reading from a Chinese takeout menu and have everyone dying on the floor because her style and point of view are so razor-sharp you just want to hear what she thinks on everything.

Witrak is performing at the 22nd LA Comedy Festival this week. For more information and the schedule, visit here.

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Erin Maguire

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Name: Erin Maguire

Website: www.erinmaguire.com

Socials: Twitter/Facebook

Why We’re Laughing: Likable in a “she should spearhead her own sitcom” kind of way, Magure’s (sometimes) self-deprecating brand of humor brings the audience into the jokes as opposed to leaving them on the outside looking in.

TrunkSpace: Was comedy always in the cards? Were you a funny kid, even at an early age?
Maguire: Always. Ever since I played Van Itch in Dr. Seuss’s “The Bread and Butter Battles” and people laughed because my goggles were too big and kept sliding off my face, I realized that I was destined for a life of people laughing at me. Or just my face. I was always a ham.

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to pursue stand-up comedy as a career and did you make a plan for how long you would attack things?
Maguire: Well, here’s a funny thing I remembered recently… a recovered memory. Thank you, therapy! When I was in second grade, I told a group of my friends I was gonna be a stand-up when I was older. And my best friend at the time said, “There’s no money in that!” Boy was she… right. (Laughter) I showed her! So I guess I was ahead of my time in using “The Secret.” I called it in second grade. But for the majority of my life, I was a sketch/improv comic. I grew up in Boston doing sketch. I went to school for theatre and walked down that path while I also had a foot in sketch and improv in NYC. But I went full tilt into stand-up about five years ago. As far as giving myself some sort of “deadline,” the answer is no. At a certain point, I think you need to decide if you’re all-in but I never said, “I’m giving this a year and if I don’t have my own Netflix series by such-and-such a date, I’m out!” That’s not why you do it. Then you’re missing the thread. Or I’m just an emotional cutter. 😉

TrunkSpace: How long did it take for you to discover your voice as a comic?
Maguire: I’m still figuring it out.

TrunkSpace: Is the approach you take now on stage different from the approach you took when you first started out? Is it one act that grew into itself or would you consider them two completely different acts?
Maguire: It is different – when I look back at tapes from when I first started to now, it’s wild. You don’t realize you’re growing when you’re in it. But I’m sure I’ll look back at videos of my sets now in about two years and say, “Well crap, that sucked.” It’s evolving. It’s not a totally different act. I like to think of it as Homer Simpson when he was on “The Tracy Ullman Show” to Homer Simpson now. You can tell the character is in there but it hasn’t reached maturation yet. That’s me. The Homer Simpson of comedy.

TrunkSpace: Is the neon “Open” sign in your brain always turned on, and by that we mean, are you always writing and on alert for new material?
Maguire: Much to my husband’s dismay, yes. It is always on. It’s always on the lookout. But really, stupid stuff just keeps happening to me. It’s hard to tell if it’s random or if my brain is creating scenarios at this point. It’s like the “Inception” of comedy.

TrunkSpace: How much work goes into a joke before it’s ready to be tested out in front of a new audience?
Maguire: It varies from joke to joke. Some things seem to come easier than others. I’ll try jokes that I’ve written hours before a show and they work. Some, I could spend days on and they still don’t feel like they’re there.

TrunkSpace: If a joke doesn’t seem to be working, how many chances do you give it in a live setting before you decide to rework it or move on from it altogether?
Maguire: It used to be if it didn’t work right out of the gate, I would cut and run. Now, I’m a lot more fearless and sometimes my jokes stay too long at the party. It’s almost like the pendulum has swung so far in the other direction and I’m digging my heels in a bit too long. It’s coming back down now. I’ll try something maybe five times now.

TrunkSpace: Is it possible to kill one night and bomb the next with essentially the same set, and if so, what do you chalk that up as?
Maguire: ABSOLUTELY. Audiences like different things and react differently. Also, my energy may vary from show to show. A lot of times, I find the second shows of the night to be the better ones, because I’m too tired to get in my own way. Over “efforting” and working too hard can be my Achilles’ heel sometimes. But energy and what a crowd chooses to connect with can vary wildly from night to night and show to show.

TrunkSpace: Does a receptive and willing audience fuel your fire of funny and help to put you on your game for the rest of your set?
Maguire: ANOTHER ABSOLUTELY. Comedy is a group participation sport. The more they react, the more I open up. There’s something to that whole collective consciousness thing.

TrunkSpace: What is your most memorable performance experience (good or bad!) that will stick with you for the rest of your career and why?
Maguire: The flops always teach you more than the wins. My first flop will stay with me forever. I was put on an All Stars show at Gotham when I was about two months into stand-up. I had five minutes. My first joke out of the gate landed with a thud and the remaining four minutes and 45 seconds lasted about 12 years. That’s what it felt like. These people looked like they wanted to skewer me. And I didn’t have enough in my arsenal at that point to pivot away. I had to step away from stand-up for about three months after that. But I came back stronger. I think the lesson is don’t let those moments stall you in your tracks. Now I have alligator skin and I don’t take the flops personally. I also never wore that same outfit on stage again because I am crazy superstitious. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: How do you handle hecklers? What approach do you take?
Maguire: Hecklers usually want to be part of the show. I acknowledge them (because ignoring them WILL NOT make them go away). I don’t say anything too harsh because that’s not my style. I talk to them just long enough to find a segue back into a bit and I never go back to them again. A lot of the times, clubs shut down the hecklers for you. So that’s a good thing. But if you’re not in a club, you need to be prepared to go to bat.

TrunkSpace: What are your thoughts on the stand-up landscape in 2018? Are you optimistic for the future of live comedy?
Maguire: I think the future looks bright for women! Thanks to the #metoo movement, I know a lot in the industry are turning their attention to female-driven comedies and voices. So that’s awesome. But by the same turn, I also feel like there’s a big comedy boom happening where everyone and their mom is getting a Netflix special. No really. I’m pretty sure my mother has one coming out this fall. So the landscape is getting oversaturated. I think it will level out. It’s like when someone lives in a town that the NY Times says is the “new Brooklyn,” then everyone moves out there and they build a crap ton of condos. The place gets overrun and people find a new place to hang. Everything ebbs and flows. And we’re kind of in a flood. But it will level out.

TrunkSpace: Finally, who do YOU find funny?
Maguire: I LOVE Patton Oswalt, Eddie Izzard, John Mulaney, Ryan Hamilton, and of course Carol Burnett. They’re all super smart comedians, totally left of center, and totally cool in their own skin.

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Brendan Krick

BrendanKrickFeatured

Name: Brendan Krick

Website: www.brendankrick.com

Socials: Twitter

Why We’re Laughing: An everyman with a set that is as relatable as it is funny, Krick’s bits place the audience in the driver’s seat of the impending punchline to be, albeit with a slightly harder R rating than how most of us are probably used to living our lives.

TrunkSpace: Was comedy always in the cards? Were you a “funny” kid, even at an early age?
Krick: My parents would describe me less as a “funny” kid and more as having a “learning disability.” I made funny videos for the morning news as a teenager and wrote comedy sketches for the school talent show. Stand-up grew out of that.

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to pursue stand-up comedy as a career and did you make a plan for how you would attack things?
Krick: I realized stand-up was something anybody could attempt when I saw the movie “Funny People.” I found an open mic in Harrisburg, PA, then wasted four years performing about once a week with no plan. Once I moved to Philadelphia, I got more motivated and two years later I moved to LA.

TrunkSpace: How long did it take for you to discover your voice as a comic?
Krick: I’m definitely still finding it. I’m constantly throwing out old material and re-evaluating what kind of comic I am. (A good one, please book me.)

TrunkSpace: Is the approach you take now on stage different from the approach you took when you first started out? Is it one act that grew into itself or would you consider them two completely different acts?
Krick: When I started I would just kind of say a weird non sequitur to shock people. Now, I don’t want to shock people. I want people on board for whatever weird or dark thing is about to happen.

TrunkSpace: Is the neon “Open” sign in your brain always turned on, and by that we mean, are you always writing and on alert for new material?
Krick: I tweet a lot, so that helps stimulate my brain into a joke-writing space. Writing for The Hard Times has helped me feel comfortable forcing out rough material to polish later. I can produce on-demand reliably but there’s a lot of editing involved.

TrunkSpace: How much work goes into a joke before it’s ready to be tested out in front of a live audience?
Krick: Almost none. I won’t do new jokes for a paying crowd, but if I’m at an open mic I like to write on stage. If I spend too much time working out an idea in a notebook, I tend to spoil it.

TrunkSpace: If a joke doesn’t seem to be working, how many chances do you give it in a live setting before you decide to rework it or move on from it altogether?
Krick: Two or three times. If I can’t make the bit work after adding more context or framing it in a different way, I’ll drop it and pick it up again in a couple months. I have some bits I do all the time now that I had previously given up on.

TrunkSpace: Is it possible to kill one night and bomb the next with essentially the same set, and if so, what do you chalk that up as?
Krick: Definitely. This happened to me at a contest in Philadelphia. I advanced at the quarter finals with a dirty set. At the semi-finals, the crowd was not responding to dirty material and I failed to adapt to their response. To quote Bill Hicks, “There aren’t any bad crowds, just wrong choices.”

TrunkSpace: Does a receptive and willing audience fuel your fire of funny and help to put you on your game for the rest of your set?
Krick: If an audience is really feeling me, I’ll get excited and lean harder into my delivery. I can’t decide if that’s good or bad. Probably goes back to finding my voice.

TrunkSpace: What is your most memorable performance experience (good or bad!) that will stick with you for the rest of your career and why?
Krick: Last summer, I was going through a weird time in my life and I walked from one venue to another listening to “The Marshall Mathers LP” and I somehow wound up crying a little bit (very cool). I had the set of my life, and for that I will always thank Eminem, my spiritual king.

TrunkSpace: How do you handle hecklers? What approach do you take?
Krick: Hecklers want to be a part of the show, and I don’t like letting them. An epic heckler takedown will still give them that moment and possibly encourage them to keep interrupting.

TrunkSpace: What are your thoughts on the stand-up landscape in 2018? Are you optimistic for the future of live comedy?
Krick: I don’t like thinking about the stand-up landscape. I’m funnier than I was a year ago. That’s the only part of this I can control. Everyone who’s getting opportunities deserves them, and all the comedy coming out right now is great. I’m very agreeable. Please book me.

TrunkSpace: Finally, who do YOU find funny?
Krick: Shane Gillis. Look up Matt & Shane’s Secret Podcast.

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Kristen Lundberg

KristenLundbergFeatured

Name: Kristen Lundberg

Website: www.kristensfunnyhair.com

Socials: Twitter/Instagram

Why We’re LaughingIf the acts of Judy Tenuta and Steven Wright got funky off stage, Lundberg’s classic approach with a contemporary delivery would arrive nine months later. It doesn’t require a two drink minimum to laugh yourself silly at one of her performances.

TrunkSpace: Was comedy always in the cards? Were you a “funny” kid, even at an early age?
Lundberg: My dad made an evil hissing noise when he laughed and it scared me, so I didn’t try and make him laugh, but yeah, I was a funny kid.

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to pursue stand-up comedy as a career and did you make a plan for how you would attack things?
Lundberg: I decided in late high school that I would be a comedian. I had a binder labeled “Plan A.” It was filled with all my sketch ideas that I would pursue as long as I didn’t get pregnant.

TrunkSpace: How long did it take for you to discover your voice as a comic?
Lundberg: It took me about two years of high school plus two years of Sinclair Community College and three more years at The Art Academy of Cincinnati to find and refine my voice.

TrunkSpace: Is the approach you take now on stage different from the approach you took when you first started out? Is it one act that grew into itself or would you consider them two completely different acts?
Lundberg: The act I was first doing got me kicked out of comedy clubs (and strip clubs). Now, sometimes they pay me! So yeah, they different.

TrunkSpace: Is the neon “Open” sign in your brain always turned on, and by that we mean, are you always writing and on alert for new material?
Lundberg: Yes, but I turn it off at bed time. At night my brain is cleaned like a host in “Westworld.”

TrunkSpace: How much work goes into a joke before it’s ready to be tested out in front of a live audience?
Lundberg: I write it about two or three times before doing an open mic.

TrunkSpace: If a joke doesn’t seem to be working, how many chances do you give it in a live setting before you decide to rework it or move on from it altogether?
Lundberg: It’s not really a matter of how many chances. It just depends if I feel there’s substance to the joke.

TrunkSpace: Is it possible to kill one night and bomb the next with essentially the same set, and if so, what do you chalk that up as?
Lundberg: I don’t worry unless the bombs begin to outnumber the kills. When that happens, I’ll usually cut my hair and buy a new vape or something.

TrunkSpace: Does a receptive and willing audience fuel your fire of funny and help to put you on your game for the rest of your set?
Lundberg: I hope the audience is willing….

TrunkSpace: What is your most memorable performance experience (good or bad!) that will stick with you for the rest of your career and why?
Lundberg: I had a fun set in Cincinnati where a crack head wandered on stage and took the microphone from me. They kicked him out. I had a good set.

TrunkSpace: How do you handle hecklers? What approach do you take?
Lundberg: It depends. If it’s an audition situation, I let the audience or house staff take care of it. If I’m just working a club somewhere, I’ll get to know them better by telling them to shut up.

TrunkSpace: What are your thoughts on the stand-up landscape in 2018? Are you optimistic for the future of live comedy?
Lundberg: Its a gold mine out here, bruh.

TrunkSpace: Finally, who do YOU find funny?
Lundberg: I think Eminem is funny.

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