Kate Willett is a comedian, actress, and writer whose raunchy feminist storytelling is both smart and relatable. She just made her network debut on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Her 15 minute special is available on Netflix’s “Comedy Lineup” in 2018. She’s the cohost of the political comedy podcast Reply Guys. She’s been a correspondent for the JIM JEFFERIES SHOW at Politicon and a featured comic on Viceland’s FLOPHOUSE. Her appearance on Comedy Central’s THIS IS NOT HAPPENING was on Splitsider’s list of “Best Late Night Standup Sets.”
Kate Willett’s new Audible Original, Dirtbag Anthropology, is a deep dive on the subject of masculinity with in-depth essays and celebrity interviews on the topic. Listen to it here.
Describe your worst gig.
Probably in a conservative sports bar. I was telling jokes over a big game on the TV behind me, and it was an “ambush show,” in that the audience was not expecting to see standup and was there to watch the game. One woman came up to me after the show and said she hoped her daughter wasn’t sleeping around like I was. Another guy tried to get me to accept Jesus.
Favorite response to a heckler or troll?
I have a joke about women faking orgasms– this guy in the audience started getting mad at me and insisting that women do not fake orgasms. Then his girlfriend sitting right next to him announced that she did. This wasn’t MY response, but it was my favorite response.
What were you like as a teen? (Did you have comedy #goals? Were you already funny, or not so much?)
As a teen hands down favorite comedian was Margaret Cho. I used to stay up late watching her specials. I loved how feminist she was, and supportive of LGBT people. When I got to go on tour with Margaret in 2015, it was realizing a comedy dream I didn’t know I had. In high school, I was funny– but I don’t think I realized it. I was a super earnest choir nerd, and I think other people laughed at me a lot, but I wasn’t in on the joke.
What’s your first impulse when someone says “women aren’t funny”?
My first impulse is an eye-roll. My second impulse is to point the person to the stand up of like 25 of the funniest women I know.
When you were coming up in comedy, what helped you stick with it?
I think having a group of supportive friends in comedy is really important. Find your crew and be a good, supportive friend to them as well. It’s hard for new comics not to be competitive and I didn’t do a perfect job of this myself, but never let jealousy get in the way of your happiness for someone else. Stand up is only a solo art form on the surface, in reality, you need your friends.
Favorite response to “What’s it like to be a woman in comedy”?
Well, for one thing, you can’t get laid for being gross in the way your male colleagues do. I feel incredibly jealous when I see a dude getting flirted with based solely on humor and charisma and I’m still over here putting on lipstick and stuff.
Best comedy advice you ever got?
Spend time with friends you can really laugh with. Sometimes your best ideas come when you’re just joking around with the people you love.
Worst comedy advice you ever got?
Don’t tell personal jokes– people don’t want to hear that from a woman.
How has being funny helped you in your offstage life, either recently or when you were younger?
I think where being funny is the most useful is for defusing any tense interaction. In the middle of a romantic or family or friend conflict, it’s a lifesaver to be able to make the other person laugh. That’s probably the original way most comics learned to be funny.
Was there one person who inspired you to go into comedy? If so: Who, why, how?
I think it was mainly my friends at the time. They were sick of me doing bits on them at parties.
Feelings about the word “comedienne”?
I prefer the term Comedy Goddess.
On your deathbed, what transcendent advice would you croak at a young (female/non-binary) comedian?
I hope by the time I die, female and non-binary comedians are just “comedians.” So I guess I’d say, something like, when I was your age, I had to walk 10 miles in the snow, barefoot, to each comedy gig.
What single word always cracks you up?
Crummy. I think because it was the way my grandma used to describe anything she didn’t like.