When it was announced that former SNL and current Weeds star Kevin Nealon was going to perform at the Chicago Laugh Factory, I immediately speculated about which Chicago comic (glad they booked a local comic to feature... would've gone ape shit otherwise) might get the opportunity to perform on the bill. I knew it had to be a comic with the chops to hold their own with someone of Nealon's caliber, but also have the ability to bring a fresh bag of tricks to the party. So... Megan Gailey was a perfect choice.
Gailey is a blast. If your not familar, lets just say she's on the short list of Chicago comics to watch. We wont re-hash her entire bio, but you can check out this short video of her from last year. Suffice to say Gailey is a red headed, foul mouthed, sorority fembot, dynamo of talent and balls. Her motto should be "fuck you, marry me". Home girl has really made an impression on the scene in the last three years. She's co-produces a showcase called Your Funniest Friends and can be seen performing all over the freaking place. Gailey was cool enough to do an interview and take some pics in between shows at the Laugh Factory.
Comedy Of Chicago: You work incredibly hard at this craft, what drives you to be a comedian?
Megan Gailey: I constantly want to get better. I want to have a new joke I love, I want to do shows I've never done before, I want to travel and get to go and meet new people and visit new places and know that it all happens because of stand-up. A lot of people know I do this and no one loves anything more than watching the prom queen fail, so I have to make this work!
Comedy Of Chicago: How would you describe your comedic style?
Megan Gailey: I don't know if I'm well versed enough in comedic styles to pinpoint what I am trying to do. I can be very aggressive and go off on rants. There are some long stories and explanations of premises that are initially very unlikeable. It's a lot of, here is a thought that is inherently not nice but here is why I think it, so please be my friend anyways. I described it once as "I'm a cunt but I'm sorry about it".
Comedy Of Chicago:Your crowd work is phenomenal right now, is it planned or completely random?
Megan Gailey: I love talking to people. I love asking questions, finding out their back-story. Crowd work has gotten me out of some very tough spots and also created some of my most disastrous sets. If I start chatting with someone and they're more interesting than my silly jokes I'm about to tell (which is usually the case) I will derail the whole set to find out why this man married his kids babysitter. But I have had to learn that I can't attack all the time. If they like you, you can get away with a lot more. Which sounds super evil!
Comedy Of Chicago: You inject a lot of stories about your family (Mom, Dad, Nana) into your bits, are they all true?
Megan Gailey: All true. My family is incredible. Ask the 15 Chicago comics that have at some point stopped through their house and they will echo that sentiment. My immediate family is full of the funniest and most forgiving people. If I could go up and do 20 minutes on how cool my family is and that everyone is invited over and my mom will make you quiche and my dad will hide a $50 in your shoes, I would do that. If I ever get so rich I've lost my mind (which I really hope happens!) my family will be with me everywhere, my house, on stage, yachts. I'd build an amusement park in their honor.
Comedy Of Chicago: You mention on stage that your mother likes to come to your shows, how supportive has your family been with this career choice?
Megan Gailey: If the above response didn't already say it! They are insanely supportive. If I say I want them at a particular show, they will come to that show no matter what. My mom left our family reunion to drive me two hours to Rochester, NY and two hours back so I could do a guest set. And she thought it was the greatest part of her weekend. They like me too much sometimes. My friends are also incredibly supportive. I have tons of just normal post sorority girl yuppie friends who come to shows and inspire all the very bizarre views I have on the world.
Comedy Of Chicago: What was your first set like?
Megan Gailey: My first set went very well. Probably too well for my own good. I did the open mic at Crackers in Indianapolis. The guy running it told me afterwards that there was no way it was my first time on stage. I thought I had it all figured out. But luckily I bombed horribly about 4 sets later hosting for John Roy at the now Comedy Attic in Bloomington, IN. I announced his credits as "performed on Jay Letterman". I think he still thinks I'm a dingbat.
Comedy Of Chicago: Why is Chicago a great comedy town?
Megan Gailey: Chicago has greatness to look up and aspire to be like: Hannibal, TJ Miller, Vatterott, Kinane
Comedy Of Chicago: How important is a vibrant open mic scene for comics?
Megan Gailey: I am not a natural born writer. I'm not great at writing jokes so for me great open mics are a necessity. If you have an idea and can get immediate feedback on it, it is the greatest thing for us as young comics. We're still trying to figure out exactly what our voice is and I think you can really play with that at open mics. It is also great to watch what your peers are doing. You'll walk in to a mic and think this room is dead and then see someone go up and get big laughs out of a bartender and two blacked out people making out. So it wasn't a dead room, they got something and how did they do it. I learn there all the time. I learn about people, meet comics, gossip, and steal food. There are open mics in this city that are as good as showcases.
Comedy Of Chicago: Who’s you favorite local comedian (besides yourself)
Megan Gailey: I like that you put in the disclaimer of beside yourself. I am not my favorite, by a long shot! I have a few, so bare with me! Marty DeRosa, his crowd work alone has taught me so much about talking to an audience. He weaves it in to his material so seamlessly and I forget I'm a comic when I watch him. Liza Treyger, She is one of my biggest inspirations, constantly drives me to get better and luckily is one of my best friends. Liza is unique, honest and so talented she doesn't even know how talented she is. So that drives me. We are incredibly supportive and open with each other. Joe Kilgallon. He is like a brother to me. Comedy aside (he's really great!) if anyone ever slapped me around I'd call Joe first. And he'd love it!
Comedy Of Chicago: Whats your favorite Chicago comedy showcase right now.
Megan Gailey: There are so many great showcases. For selfish reasons I love YFF. The freedom I feel there is unparalleled. And all credit for making that show a success goes to Matt, Lane, Jeff and Joe. And our interns! I show up late and waltz around with free vodka sodas and then we get to do whatever we want on stage. I also love CYSK, Entertaining Julia and there have been some new ones pop up that are great! Stand Up Stand Up and Dan Friesen's at Ace Bar seem to have gotten it right.
James Allen Kamp