One of Garance and my’s best kept secrets is that we both want to do stand up. Neither of us has taken the leap (maybe G will soon?) but the three hilarious women featured here are doing it and doing it very well.
I met Greta a few years ago in the New York mix and she always made me laugh A LOT. She told me she was getting serious about a career in comedy and I’ve been
living vicariously through her a loyal fan ever since. Going to her shows, I discovered Ana and Michelle. They all have different styles but all three can get on stage and make people laugh until their stomach hurts, an ability and level of courage that I admire so much. They came into the Atelier and literally performed their way through their shoots. We then got a little more serious and talked about pursuing dreams and what it’s like to be a woman in comedy. Here’s hoping this inspires some of us to get on stage and just do our thing!
Michelle Buteau | @michellebuteau
When did you know you wanted to be a comedian?
I used to edit the local news and my co-workers would tell me I was really funny and that I should do stand up. I was like, what? I need to make money. Stand ups always talk about being broke. I used to write really long emails about my days in New York and they would forward them to their friends cause they thought it was hilarious. After 9/11 happened, I thought, fuck it. I could die sitting in an edit booth. I started stand up three days later.
Who were you inspired by?
I loved watching movies with Whoopi, sketch shows with Cher, Goldie Hawn and oh my god I had the biggest lady boner for Carol Burnett. I couldn’t get enough of Lucy & Ricky’s fights and makeup sessions. I wanted to live my life as all of The Golden Girls and Living Single. So lots of independent, funny ass women!
Have you ever been heckled? Do people really do that?!
People heckle all the time! They think they’re helping you sometimes, other times they clearly don’t understand how a show works. But either way, I love hecklers. I usually let them talk, they never have anything to say, it’s not funny, I’ll follow up with something funny and then they’ve gotten a lesson in comedy club etiquette 101.
Do you think it’s different pursuing a career in comedy as a woman?
I think no matter what career you pursue as a woman, you have to be better, faster, stronger, and nicer, all while looking the part.
What are your feelings on fame as a part of comedy? Are the famous ones really the funniest?
A lot of the famous ones aren’t that funny, you never know who will hit! I really enjoy my comedy friends that have been doing it for years, maybe you’ve never heard of them, they’re just so damn funny. It’s all about the breaks!
What’s the best part about doing stand up? And the worst?
Rejection is never fun but it’s a necessary evil. Also the travel is amazing but I miss my husband, dogs, and using my own toilet. In that order.
What’s your advice for someone thinking about doing stand up?
Have fun! It’s supposed to be fun! And if you love it, don’t stop. It’ll get better. Don’t do stand up to be famous or to be seen, make a sex tape if you want attention. Wear condoms. But that’s just like, general life advice that I always like to tell people.
Ana Fabrega | @ana_fabrega
When did you decide do comedy full time?
I was going down the finance track. I didn’t love it, but thought, “I can do this.” Then I got honest with myself and realized I didn’t want to do it for the rest of my life. I was making little videos online and writing little bits. I couldn’t go to open mics because of my work schedule so I thought I had to quit my job if I really wanted to try. My office let me work part time so I started doing shows and becoming confident that it could be a full time job.
Congratulations! Big move. Were there comedians that you were inspired by?
I was always such a big fan of Fred Armisen, especially when Portlandia came out. I was really into Adult Swim, I loved Wonder Showzen. I never felt more inspired than when I started seeing local comics. I met Julio Torres at his show – a great comic. He booked people that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. There’s a lot of very talented comics right now whose names are not necessarily known but their work is so good, I’m sure they will be.
On that topic, what’s your feeling on fame as a part of comedy, are the most famous ones the funniest?
Not at all, it’s like any creative field, the most talented musicians aren’t always the most famous ones. Sometimes the talent and the fame align. It is weird to think that success in this field can be defined by who knows your name, if you have a big show… I’ve thought about it a lot. If I am successful, does that mean I have to be famous? I don’t want to have to deal with what people who are in the public eye deal with, but I want the public to see my work. So can you have both? I’ve seen people who do it well. It’s attainable.
So where do you usually get your best material?
I like to walk around a lot and just see people and read signs. I laugh by myself a lot especially when I am walking. I’ll just see someone’s mannerisms or their body language and I will try to do it as a character. It sounds crazy, but sometimes if I’m working, I’ll put a mirror next to me and if I say something, sometimes it will make me laugh. I’m like that’s funny, who is that person? Maybe that will send me on a tangent. It’s all stepping stones. It’s all coming from real people and real things.
What’s your advice for someone who’s thinking about going into comedy and doing stand up ?
Just start doing it. Start going to open mics. It took me a while to eventually go for it because I had so many hesitations. I was nervous, what if no one likes this, what if no one goes, where do I go… Once you go, you meet people, you get more comfortable and everything just kind of snowballs. I know that’s what everyone says, but just go do it.
Greta Titelman | @gertiebird
When did you know you wanted to be a comedian?
I always knew I wanted to perform. I loved attention as child. My parents would throw dinner parties with friends and I used to make them all gather in the living room when they were done eating to watch me dance for them. At 7 years old I begged my mom for an agent…It didn’t happen!
When did you decide to pursue a career? Was there a turning point when you decided to go all in on this?
Yes, after my mom died. I was like, “What the fuck am I doing with my life?” It puts a magnifying glass on your life. It just really makes you think about how you’re spending time on this earth and if what you’re doing is actually fulfilling you and making you happy. The most daunting thing to do is follow your dreams but I decided I was going to try.
Do you think it’s different/easier/more difficult pursuing a career in comedy as a woman?
Yes! People say, “Oh you’re funny for a girl!” They like to make exceptions for women. They love being like, “Well we have to put a woman on the show…” So did you book me because I’m funny or because you need a woman on the show? I don’t care because a spot is a spot….But there’s a lot of misogyny in comedy, you spend a lot of time in bars. It’s harder to gain respect, for people to take you seriously. I saw a male comedian last night who said if men got their periods, the world would stop one week a month. That’s very accurate.
Who is your ultimate spectator? If you could pick anyone that would come to your show?
My mom if she could resurrect herself. I would like to think that she’s there with me every time. For some reason, Marion Cotillard just came into my head, I don’t know why. She’d be a great spectator. Anyone who likes to laugh. I’d love to perform for Lenny Kravitz. He could be fun. You know who else could be fun? Method Man. I would love to hang with Method Man and perform for the entire Wu-Tang Clan.
What’s the best thing about doing stand up?
The best part of stand up is making people laugh. That’s the best part. The feeling of making a full room laugh, is the most incredible feeling. It’s like a high. I would imagine this is what an addict feels. Even if it’s just 10 people, you’re like, this is what I’m on this earth for.
What’s your advice for someone thinking about doing stand up or pursuing comedy?
Just do it. If you think you want to do it, think you can do it, do it. If you don’t think you can, still do it. That’s the best part of stand up, you can decide in the morning that you’re going to do it and go that night and try it. You don’t have to wait for anyone, you don’t have to submit an application. I didn’t go to stand up school, I just started hitting the scene.
Find Greta on Instagram! She’s hosting a show called The Birdcage at The Jane in NYC on June 28th.