Mini Q+A with Emily Flake

Emily is a cartoonist-writer-performer-teacher-illustrator based in Brooklyn. She makes cartoons for The New Yorker, mostly, but also sometimes MAD Magazine, the New Statesman, and other places. Emily performs a quarterly-ish show called Shitshow with NPR’s Ophira Eisenberg, and a monthly show called NIGHTMARES with comedian Kat Burdick. Emily is the writer and illustrator behind a book of cartoon essays called Mama Tried It. You can buy it here.


Favorite response to a heckler or troll?

Situational. But I once got to shut it down with a “fewer” correction to his “less” (in person, not online! Felt glorious) .

Describe your worst gig.

Technically not even comedy, but still gives me chills – I’d been hired to do a cartooning event with Zach Kanin and we had no idea what we were doing; we got up and ate shit for two solid hours IN FRONT OF KIDS while I watched the project head’s face go from alarm to disappointment to anger. Oof.

What were you like as a teen? (Did you have comedy #goals? Were you already funny, or not so much?)

Pretty droopy with lots of feelings! But I did a fanzine cause I was trying to be #PunkAsFuck and I did funny (?) comics for it.

On your deathbed, what transcendent advice would you croak at a young comedian?

KNOW THYSELF (and then I’d die before attributing).

What’s your first impulse when someone says “women aren’t funny”?

Flick ‘em in the nuts and laugh hysterically

When you were coming up in comedy, what helped you stick with it?

The sweet sweet irresistible drug of making people laugh.

Best comedy advice you ever got?

Comedy, life, anything – be kind and reliable.

Favorite response to “What’s it like to be a woman in comedy”?

Like being a dude, but moist.

Feelings about the word “comedienne”?

I actually kind of love it because I used it in an essay about my life goals when I was nine.

Was there one person who inspired you to become a comedian? If so, who, why, how?

JANEANE GAROFOLO. I watched her on MTV’s Half-Hour Comedy Hour, and I think it was a Spring Break edition where she made fun of Gerardo and they booed her; she was a total badass about it, and I just remember watching with my heart pounding and thinking I WANT THIS


Emily is a cartoonist-writer-performer-teacher-illustrator based in Brooklyn. She makes cartoons for The New Yorker, mostly, but also sometimes MAD Magazine, the New Statesman, and other places. Emily performs a quarterly-ish show called Shitshow with NPR’s Ophira Eisenberg, and a monthly show called NIGHTMARES with comedian Kat Burdick. Emily is the writer and illustrator behind a book of cartoon essays called Mama Tried It. You can buy it here.