What has helped you stick with all the challenges of comedy?
1. Spending intentional time building meaningful friendships and spending time with my family. They’ll remind you of your worth when you feel like you’re failing, or not living up to what you’re capable of.
2. Remembering that there is SO much suffering and pain in the world right now. It’s really a gift to make people laugh, and if you’re not going to do it — who will?
3. If you quit now, do you really have a backup that would make you as happy?
What’s your first impulse when someone says “women aren’t funny”?
I feel pity for the fact that they lead such small lives.
Best comedy advice you ever got?
REWRITE. One thing I don’t feel people say enough: get notes, but ultimately, you know your project best. Don’t feel pressured to implement every note. Really mull over and weigh your notes and only use the stuff you believe in.
Worst comedy advice you ever got?
Hm, I’m not sure I’ve ever gotten directly bad advice (oh no, maybe I have and I’ve been implementing it into my life!).
How has being funny helped you in your offstage life, either recently or when you were younger?
Two things stand out: I was a non-white kid growing up in an almost all-white neighborhood. I don’t think I realized it until later, but being silly really helped me find my way in school, in a place where I’d probably be viewed as “different” had I not developed those skills.
Before I came back to comedy, I worked in the non-profit world. I think humor helped me make sense of some of the really challenging things I witnessed, as well as lighten the load for people who were suffering.
Single word that always cracks you up?
Feelings about the word “comedienne”?
Favorite response to a heckler or troll?
I try not to respond to trolls anymore. They don’t have the right to steal my joy. If it’s something I’m really considering responding to, I’ll try to step away for an hour or two to cool down, so I can make sure I’m responding with a clear head and not out of pure rage. 🙂
On your deathbed, what transcendent advice would you croak at a young comedian?
Don’t be afraid to ask: ask for what you want, ask for help, ask if you can work with people. You’re probably missing out on opportunities simply because you’re too afraid of hearing no. (But hearing no isn’t that bad, to be honest.)
Photo of Erika via: Amanda Christine Studio