Alison Leiby keeps one foot in the outside

Did you have an un-sexy starter job?
I always had day jobs in my early comedy years mostly because I needed insurance and I like being able to afford things in general. They were all pretty nondescript office jobs, but I met some nice people. More importantly, it kept me in the world of non-comedians during the day, so I had a sense of what people outside of comedy were talking about when I wasn’t at open mics. It always helped me to keep writing material that actual audiences could relate to and weren’t all inside jokes about the comedy scene.
What were you like as a teen? 
I didn’t know comedy was an option, but I watched it constantly. My friend down the street and I would watch Strangers with Candy and the UCB show over the phone together when they aired. My friends and I always goofed off and tried to make each other laugh no matter what. Most of the times I’ve laughed the hardest in my life weren’t making or watching comedy, but just being a maniac teen with my friends.
On your deathbed, what transcendent advice would you croak at a young comedian?
Make comedy based on what you think is funny, not what other people say is funny.
When you were coming up in comedy, what helped you stick with it?
Making friends early on, especially people who make you feel like less of an outsider (and at the beginning, everyone is an outsider). Also remember that even when it seems like it, almost no one is ever successful “overnight.” Being good takes time.
Best comedy advice you ever got?
Do it as much as you can.
Worst comedy advice you ever got?
“Don’t do too much material about women’s stuff.” I can’t even credit who said that to me because it was said to me so many times early in my career.
What is your go-to show or movie to watch when you have had a bad day? 
Hard to beat 30 Rock, Seinfeld, or Veep in this department.
What specific things can a young comic/comedian do to shape their voice? 
Read, watch, and visit as many different artistic outlets as possible. Read all kinds of books and articles, watch films and tv shows that aren’t comedy, and go to museums. You can figure out your perspective a lot easier when you engage with all kinds of things. The more you know about your view of the world, the clearer it is.
Do you have a writing routine? If so, what is it?
I’m not a routine person, so I sporadically sit down and write whenever I think it can happen (or there’s a real impending deadline). For standup writing, sometimes making a plan with a friend to get together and write jokes is how I force myself to think about it.