Ann Van Epps’s middle name is not Van

Ann Van Epps is a standup comedian based in Brooklyn, NY.

She has been traveling a lot to perform coast to coast this past year which includes Portland, OR; Seattle, WA,
L.A. (Burbank Comedy Fest – Best of the Fest 21′), Omaha (Omaha Comedy Fest 22′), Cleveland (6th City Comedy Fest 22′), and Detroit (Detroit Women in Comedy Fest 22′). This week she will be performing her new half-hour set at the Pajama Factory as part of her humor residency for women at St. Nell’s in Williamsport, PA. Her influences include Tig Notaro, Rosebud Baker, Jessica Kirson, and Maria Bamford.

Favorite response to a heckler or troll?
It was a guy yelling something- asking him if he was single and if he wants my number. It turned out he had said I love you but I couldn’t hear what he said at first.
BRIEFLY describe your worst gig.
This moment gives me PTSD but I will say it anyway. It was in a deserted strip mall in PA surrounded by woods. We stopped at a Wendy’s that had a group of young prostitutes openly working in the parking lot that was nearby. I was the only female in a group of men that drove down together, once I got there, more men, none in my age group or demographic. There were few audience members in this cavernous space and the host brought me up just as a huge party came in. The host, I found out later was a huge coke head and dealer and he disappeared from the standup scene soon after. So while they were awkwardly figuring out where to sit I had to begin my set. I bombed so, so hard but I still got paid $100. And the host said in front of the club owner I did a decent job but then after we left he said he would never book me again at that venue (but he would in NYC).
Did you have an un-sexy starter job? 
I’ve had several and continue to. Are you hiring? 😅 Lots and lots of material for sure.
What were you like as a teen?
I have always been funny and would prank my mom even as a baby. As a teenager, I was pretty weird but was always the goofy, jokester of my friend-group. I, sadly, had to push down my creativity a lot growing up in Ohio, it wasn’t acceptable to be different. I didn’t even know it was possible to be a comedian as a career. But then I moved to Savannah, GA for art school and began doing comedy there finally. It took me a little time to get over stage fright. And then 3 days after graduating, I moved to NYC and immediately started performing after I got comfortable living in the city, and even before, began meeting people like me and it was really mind-blowing that there were other people like me pursuing comedy out there and that it was acceptable to be my creative self.
On your deathbed, what transcendent advice would you croak at a young comedian?
Don’t worry so much about what others think about you. They are going to think no matter what you do. Just be yourself.
When you were coming up in comedy, what helped you stick with it?
I can’t not do it. After getting over stage fright, even when it was terrible, I couldn’t not do it. It’s a drug. A great drug. It nags at you until you do it.
Best comedy advice you ever got?
Not sure if the best, but it helps a lot. Not being jealous and bitter because of what others have or how far along other people are in comparison to you. Think more about connecting and helping others and they will help you too. what
Worst comedy advice you ever got?
Change your set to match what the audience wants.
How has being funny helped you in your offstage life, either recently or when you were younger?
It’s definitely a coping strategy. Like in social settings.
What is your go-to show or movie to watch when you have had a bad day? 
RuPaul’s Drag Race. And Marvelous Mrs. Ms. Maisel (not a typo. I call it that).
What specific things can a young comedian do to shape their voice? 
Focus on yourself. Let the audience know who you are on stage. Watch comics you admire. Watch other shows. Live is best. Let them inspire you.
Was there one person who inspired you to go into comedy?
Not really. I guess watching SNL but that’s sketch and not a person. I do ask other people who are further along on their journey for advice. Sometimes they share and sometimes they don’t.
Do you have a writing routine?
I walk a lot and that helps get my ideas out. If I’m working on a joke and it needs a better ending, the walk helps. Also, I go to coffee shops and write. I also record my voice so I don’t forget a little thing or how it should sound. Also, writing some stuff and then meeting one on one with another comic you respect or want to be friends with really helps. I do this with different people and have noticed other female comedians (who aren’t uptight) work best.
What single word always cracks you up?
Rural. It’s hard to say.