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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Queer Comedy at Zanies!

Adam Guerino
In honor of Tuesday’s Queer Comedy show at Zanies Comedy Club, I talked with three of the comedians in the show about performing comedy. Being a comedian is a very unique calling and defies many expectations. To lift the veil a little bit, I asked them how being a comedian is different than people might assume.

For myself, I think that unlike other careers, people have a lot of assumptions about a comedian’s life. Like it’s a character trait rather than a career. The number one thing I get asked in every day life is always, “Is this your bit?” Like every conversation I have is an open mic or something.

But of course that’s if I’m being funny. If I’m not being funny, I get asked, “Is everything OK?” “What’s the matter?” “ARE YOU MAD AT ME OR SOMETHING?!” Usually I just assure them that everything’s fine but sometimes I ask what they do for a living. If they say they’re a barista, I ask, “Where’s my coffee? DO YOU HATE ME?!” And so on. Which is a vicious cycle because, well, that’s kind of a bit, isn’t it?

Rachel McCartney
For comedian Rachel McCartney, she wanted to address where people think the desire to do comedy comes from.

"It’s a misconception that comedians are all looking to fill an emotional void with applause. I’m not saying we’re not screwed up–just that after you’ve had enough good sets and bad sets, audience feedback stops feeling personal. Having a joke hit doesn’t feel like an absent parent’s love; it just feels like doing anything else well."

For when to even call yourself a comic, Joseph William Reese explains reactions he’s heard from even bringing up the title.

Joseph William Reese
Considering how new I am to the comedy scene I have only recently been able to confidently say “I’m a comic” when people ask what I do. It used to be “I’m a bar manager that is sometimes on stage by myself with a microphone” which was easier to keep the conversation moving without further elaboration on the subject. However now oftentimes the response is “say something funny” to which I have to explain that it’s not really that cut and dry because my humor is more of a storytelling style that requires a little foreplay before the payoff. People assume that I just stand on stage and tell knock knock jokes or something…which is not the case. Another response I get is from mostly my actor friends: “Oh I could never do that it seems terrifying” which was always surprising for me because the idea of being an actor is more scary for me. At least in our case if we bomb it’s our own words being botched on stage, not someone else’s.

Krista Atkinson

While Krista Atkinson talks about how being honest on stage can lead to boundary issues off stage.

One of the things that makes being a comedian very different from other careers, in my opinion, is the level of personal information that people can sometimes feel entitled to, and the boundary issues they have. I get very honest and open onstage, especially about my sex life. However, that is one facet of my multifaceted personality. I find that some people tend to think they know everything about me based on what I say on stage for a few minutes. They think I have this one dimension. They also will ask very personal questions (especially about my sex life), or make inappropriate comments to me just because I shared something personal on stage. That is part of my act, but people think it is an open pass to dig deeper. Additionally, people ask about the money you make at comedy, which also is very personal. To me, that is the equivalent of asking someone what their salary is. Things that tend to be off-limits in other respects, don’t seem to be shown the same courtesy when it comes to being a comic. Also, another way that being a comic is different than what people may think, is that… it is WAY better than anything anyone else does! Even with the boundary problems, it is the most amazing experience to share my life on stage and make people laugh.

I think it’s safe to say with these four different opinions that what being a comedian is like is just as hard to define as any career–just funnier to describe. But enough with the behind the scenes stuff, don’t miss the show Tuesday November 18th, with Rachel McCartney, Joseph William Reese and Krista Atkinson hosted by me, headlined by Candy Lawrence and also featuring Paul Fruhwirth. $15 tickets available at the Zanies website or at the door at 1548 N Wells.

Contributing Writer Adam Guerino
Adam is a writer, stand-up comedian and producer of Queer Comedy.