Sophie Zucker’s math teacher inspired her to do comedy
Sophie Zucker is a comedian, living in Brooklyn. She’s currently starring as Abby on Apple TV’s Dickinson, opposite Hailee Steinfeld. She is also a writer on the show. Sophie has performed original work at Joe’s Pub, Union Hall, The Duplex, Littlefield, Brooklyn Comedy Collective, Second City, UCB, Vital Joint, and Annoyance NY and trained at most of those places, too. Other favorite TV/Film credits include The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel; the Mindy Kaling feature Late Night, and Comedy Central’s The Other Two. She also had a monthly show with her all-female comedy collective Ladies Who Ranch at Union Hall.
Describe your worst gig.
A variety show I did in between a friend’s birthday party. I had rushed there from the party and had to bolt as soon as my bit was over, so I was stressed and not present. I ended up doing an outrageous character that bombed, which is the worst kind of bombing because you’re stuck in whatever crazy hair and makeup you’re in, and there’s no way to walk it back. I felt extra bad because another friend’s parents had come to see me, and all I could think when I was playing to silence was them going back to her and being like, “Sophie is a professional comedian? Are you sure?”
Favorite response to a heckler or troll?
This wasn’t my move, but I saw incredible comic Meaghan Strickland once turn her entire set into interviewing a relentless heckler and it was brilliant. Hecklers usually don’t want THAT much attention, so she was able to make him uncomfortable (instead of the reverse), but putting a spotlight on him. That was probably my favorite.
What were you like as a teen? (Did you have comedy #goals? Were you already funny, or not so much?)
As a teen, I loved any kind of attention – positive or negative. I wasn’t necessarily into Comedy Proper, but I loved making my friends laugh (either with me or at me), and I did love performing (musical theater lol). So, all the pieces were there.
What’s your first impulse when someone says “women aren’t funny”?
That that person is probably ancient? I don’t know, I’ve never heard someone blatantly say that except for maybe some reply-guy dad in my mentions, who should probably be taking care of his kids?
When you were coming up in comedy, what helped you stick with it?
The friends I made! Comedy is a communal art-form, whether you’re collaborating with people on projects or seeing the same people at shows and mics. It’s really social. I lean into that because I’m an extrovert, and shutting down the bar with my friend Maya on a Wednesday is truly my version of taking care of myself. So even when I was feeling about my career professionally, I knew I could always turn it around just by hanging with my funny friends in the back of a bar-show. Actually, the night I found out my grandma died, I still went and did a friend’s improv show because I knew it would make me feel better!! And it did!!!!!
Best comedy advice you ever got?
Your job is not to book, your job is to provide a consistent body of work. All that really means is focus on your art, not the success of your art, and the success will come.
Worst comedy advice you ever got?
Someone told me if I wanted to write for TV, the best and fastest way to do it was to get an assistant job in the industry. So I got an assistant job and I got fired (but I’m still a TV writer).
How has being funny helped you in your offstage life, either recently or when you were younger?
In high school, I got called a slut like every day of the week. A normal person would’ve been mortified but me, being the budding character actor I was, just adopted it as part of my personality 🙂
Was there one person who inspired you to go into comedy? If so: Who, why, how?
My high school math teacher once told me I had great comedic timing. I think I was probably trying to argue my way out of a D in AP AB Calc.
On your deathbed, what transcendent advice would you croak at a young (female/non-binary) comedian?
Being ironically detached from your art is boring and overdone. You chose this career. Commit!