Mary Lemmer wants Writing & Waffle Wednesdays

Mary Lemmer is a creative impact-driven entrepreneur, consultant, humorist, author, and global speaker helping leaders and companies innovate, navigate change, and thrive in an unpredictable world. She is the founder of Improve, and designs and delivers engaging keynotes, offsites, trainings, and conference sessions.

What were you like as a teen?
The best way to know what I was like as a teen is to watch my comedy special “Living With My Parents.” In short, I was (and still am) a highly sensitive person, loved writing and filling boxes with completed journals, was ultra creative, lived in my imagination, and was very dedicated to the boy band known as O-Town.
Did you have an un-sexy starter job? 
I tried to get an un-sexy starter job like cashier at a health food store, but they wouldn’t hire me because I had no experience. So, I started a business and created my own un-sexy starter job. (Because what’s more sexy than sticky melted Italian water ice and gelato running down your arm? 🙂
What do you consider to be your biggest comedy achievement to date?
Ooof, this is tricky because there are several comedy moments I’m proud of:
  • Performing at the Punch Line in San Francisco
  • Dreaming up a live late-night comedy show, creating it, and performing it in NYC
  • Writing, directing, producing, and performing in an award-winning comedic short film
  • Creating, directing, producing, and editing a comedy special “Living With My Parents” during the pandemic
  • Bringing comedy offstage to empower people to improve creativity, resilience, joy, health, and well-being in their lives and work
Overall, my biggest comedy achievement is bringing what I’ve imagined into the world. I’ve taken what has started as a kernel of an idea in my mind and seen it through to life, and that to me is worth celebrating each and every time!
When you were coming up in comedy, what helped you stick with it? 
How much it was giving back to me in terms of joy and a way of navigating life that brought so much joy, laughter, and peace
Have you ever dealt with trolls? 
Yes! Is there a word limit on this question?! 😉
Pre-comedy me handled it with fear and hurt. Post-comedy me handled (and handles it) with acceptance and playfulness. It’s like we learn as improvisers — say “yes”, acknowledge the reality of the situation, “and” then respond. It’s this presence, or “playing the scene we’re in” that allows me to handle these situations with strength and a sense of humor
On your deathbed, what transcendent advice would you croak at a young comedian? 
Be you. It’s that simple and it’s that complex.
Best comedy advice you ever got?
Just do it. Thanks, Nike.
Worst comedy advice you ever got? 
I think I blocked out all of the worst comedy advice I got because I don’t remember any of it 🙂
How has being funny helped you in your life? 
It has helped me navigate challenging situations in life, like illness, losing loved ones to death, awkward situations, moving, and transforming embarrassment into humor. Finding the funny in life’s moments, all of life’s moments has helped me embrace whatever life brings (and turn wrenches into magic wands :)).
What specific things should a novice comic or comedy writer do to shape their voice? 
This is such an individual journey, and each person needs to figure out what works for them. For me, I really got a lot out of The Artist’s Way and just continuing to write, journal, write, and share. Also write for you and your eyes only.
Do you have a writing routine?
Yes! I often change up the routine to keep it interesting and creative.
I used to write every morning. And when I’m working on a specific project I do create writing windows (in the mornings because that’s my prime writing time…before I open my phone or look at any messages) specifically to work on that project.
The morning writing windows are how I’ve been able to write multiple books.
Another ritual I like is lighting a candle while writing and then blowing it out when I’m done writing. I call this “Fire Focus” because I love a good alliteration…and fire.
Another fun writing ritual I’ve been playing around with is Writing & Waffles Wednesday, where I make waffles and write on a Wednesday. I think this could be a fun group writing meetup, but for now, all the (gluten free, dairy free, all the frees) waffles are eaten by me.
And I have notes on my phone with ideas that I jot down as they come up, and then I can return to them later.
What is your go-to show or movie when you’ve had a bad day?
I used to watch Disney shows after a full day of classes at university. Hannah Montana and That’s So Raven were on the rotation. These days, episodes of Seinfeld and Parks and Rec always put a smile on my face!
What single word always cracks you up?
I have a feeling that as soon as I submit this form I’ll think of a word. Or I’ll probably crack up at a word in the next 15 minutes. So, I guess until then, be in the mystery. Let life surprise you.