The beauty of social networking is the ability to find like-minded people in unlikely places. Through the power of twitter and facebook, I have become friends with a variety of people, one more interesting than the next.
Someone I’ve been interacting a lot with lately via twitter, facebook, and email is Julia Brown, an upcoming stand-up comedian residing in Minnesota. She and I share much of the same humor, and we make each other laugh regularly.
Julia runs a blog called What The F*ck in which she shares her perspectives on encounters in her daily life. She also has a youTube channel, on which you can see small stand-up performances and get a flavor of her routine.
One of the things I love on the internet and other media are question and answer sessions. You can learn a lot by asking someone some questions geared specifically for them and reading their responses.
I recently sent Julia a few questions about comedy and entertainment, in general, and, the entertainer that she is, provided some great responses.
I happily present our Q + A session to you!
What made you decide to start performing stand-up comedy?
The first time I saw Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor & George Carlin on HBO doing stand-up when I was 14yrs. I was also fan of a short-lived program called, ‘Make Me Laugh,’ Howie Mandel was one of the comedians on that show. In addition, I would entertain my family when they were trying to watch T.V. (they really loved that).
Who or what are your major influences?
Additions to my list would be Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, Robin Williams, Albert Brooks & Saturday Night Live. When I saw Bachelor Party at age 13 (I paid for a different movie but snuck into Bachelor Party), I fell in love with the writer, Pat Proft. Pat makes me laugh more any person in the world.
What is your process or approach to developing material?
I take real experiences that have happened to me & twist them. In addition, I write down everything my friends say. Sometimes, it’s just one word. If it speaks to me, I write it down. I don’t ever use what they say verbatim, I also twist it!
Tell me about your first time. What did it feel like the first time you performed in front of an audience? How many people were in the audience?
The first time I performed was at an open mic on a Wed. night. The audience was small & it was mostly comedians. I was nervous. I didn’t finish jokes. It’s pretty much a blur & I sucked.
Who would you say is your target audience? Have you encountered situations where your target audience is the minority? How do you handle that?
My target audience is college aged, edgy, young fun people that aren’t easily offended. My material starts at questionable & ends questionable (dirty mostly). I try to mix some clean material in. I have encountered audiences that don’t laugh or don’t laugh as much as I thought they would. I just move on. Sometimes, I change my set mid way & go to a set that I know gets laughs because I don’t want to bomb. Well…I don’t want to bomb that BIG anyway!
How do you like performing in Minnesota? Minnesota has been the home of many famous comedians like Louie Anderson, Maria Bamford, and Nick Swardson. Minnesota also seems to be an area with a well-developed comedy scene second only to larger cities such as New York City and Los Angeles. What are your thoughts on this?
I do enjoy performing in Minnesota. Like everywhere, there is a large portion of the population that want a woman do “clean” material. However, I plan to stay true to myself and what I think is funny. Aside from that, Minnesota is comedian friendly & have many supporters & fans that always come to shows.
What are your short term goals for your performing career? Long term?
My short-term goals for performing involve becoming more comfortable in front of large audiences & connecting with them early on in my set. My long term goals for performing stand-up involve a very different beast. I am preparing myself to speak to very large audiences of teenagers about sex & making the most of their lives. My focus would be mostly teen parents. I was a teen parent. I do not recommend young people give birth.
What advice can you offer to someone thinking about getting into stand-up comedy or live entertainment in general?
If someone has a burning desire to entertain or do stand up specifically, find a workshop in your area where you can get your feet wet in front of other comedians who have been through what your about to go through. It’s not easy & you will find direction there. When you’re ready for open mics, find a place where you feel comfortable. Once you’ve gotten solid laughs for few months (or when you’re ready), start going to other open mics. Audiences are very different from place to place! Last, when you bomb….and you will bomb at least once, other comedians are not the best support system. When I say they’re not the best, I mean, they are not going to support your bombing at all. Bring friends to support your dream!
How do you define “funny”?
Funny is anything & everything that makes someone laugh. Funny can’t be defined with limitations. If there were limits there wouldn’t be comedians. Comedians break down barriers & give you permission to laugh at outlandish things. I believe people should have a good laugh every day!