Miriam Katz actually had a sexy starter job

Miriam Katz is a comedic actor and improviser. She teaches comedic performance (improv, standup, sketch, and characters) to kids and teens ages 6 to 16. She also coaches grown-up comedians, as well as grown-up people working in the professional world who want to be more comfortable with public speaking. Katz has written about comedy for Artforum, Bookforum, and currently, for the LA Times.

What were you like as a teen?
I was more dramatic as a teen! I mean, I was absurd– in a single week I’d come to school in a full baseball uniform, full skater gear, a tie and vest, and then be dressed like posh spice. I had a good time and I realized life was silly. But I was more interested in DRAMATIC acting which it turns out, is funny.
Did you have an un-sexy starter job?
I worked at an art magazine. It actually was sexy, on paper (literally). But the hours were sooo grueling and I wasn’t paid well. But yes, I certainly made friends. And man it made me a good writer and editor, and I absolutely still use those skills to this day.
What do you consider to be your biggest comedy achievement to date?
I organized and moderated a panel discussion about Andy Kaufman’s influence on contemporary comedians with Tim Heidecker, TJ Miller, and Brent Weinbach at MoMA in New York. It was soooo cool and funny and interesting. I also love writing for the LA Times about comedy. Regarding personal performance, I perform improv at least once a week, and any time I get to perform on the UCB stage feels exciting. And honestly, most of the movies and even commercials I’ve gotten to do, especially the comedic stuff, feel like a triumph.
When you were coming up in comedy, what helped you stick with it? 
It’s fun! It’s exciting. The community can be incredible. I believe in it. Performing comedy makes every other part of my life easier.
Have you ever dealt with trolls?
More toxic colleagues, FOR SURE. Especially in the clown world weirdly. Some people do not want you to succeed and will try to make you feel bad because they are threatened. Ew! I deal with it by being really nice to people when they ask me for advice, to counterbalance. And by trying to get out of situations (teams, classes, communities) that feel especially toxic. ‘Cause you can’t change people, but you can use the exit.
On your deathbed, what transcendent advice would you croak at a young comedian? 
Oh gosh! Do it! Be loving. Be your specific self. Try. Life is way more meaningful when you use as much as yourself as you possibly can.
Best comedy advice you ever got?
Ugh, unfortunately, that you have to fail.
Worst comedy advice you ever got? 
Try wearing a costume.
How has being funny helped you in your life? 
Oh my goodness, it helps so much, especially in my hospice volunteer work. But it helps with all life stresses–I am able to quickly shift perspective. I also think it helps so, so much in auditions. Cause as much as I care, it’s also all so silly.
What specific things should comedy writer do to shape their voice? 
I would find someone you trust who cares about you and has good taste in comedy, to give you honest feedback. That will take you further than you’ll go on your own.
Was there one person who inspired you to go into the comedy world?
The first time I saw comedy live was Stella/Eugene Mirman/Todd Barry. That show hooked me. Then I dated a comedian and my heart was broken. And I just thought, “I have to do this myself.”
Do you have a writing routine?
I do a ton of research–make a lot of notes. So, by the time I’m forming sentences, I have most of the ideas at my fingertips, and the magic can happen. I wouldn’t say I’m strict about this, it just works well and keeps it fun.