I’m so sad to see this year’s comedy showcase come to an end; but all good things must come to an end. We will end the week with a bang by “passing the mic” to a newcomer to the comedy scene, current Harvard student Sierra Katow.
Thank you Sierra for your contribution to our blog this week. I want to begin by first asking what do you think is the hardest part about being a female comedian?
When I first started, I always looked very different from all the other comics at open mics: 5’ tall, girl, Asian, teenager. People tended to remember if they’d met me before, so it felt easier to make an impression. However, as I became more serious about comedy, I realize now that it’s limiting and hard as hell to be a woman in the comedy world. There are so many men in comedy that it feels like it’s their place and when you look around in a room full of comics and don’t see anyone who could be you, it seems like you don’t belong. This is, of course, all bogus. I think one of my biggest challenges has been getting over that intimidation and realizing that I can hold my own as a comic. There are always small comments that I have to ignore, but I think there is so much happening for everyone in comedy now and seeing people like Amy Schumer and Whitney Cummings really make an impact on the comedy world makes it feel possible!
How do you come up with material?
I’m still figuring out the best way to come up with material and write comedy. I keep notes on my phone and make sure to record ideas whenever I can, which is a tactic a lot of comedians swear by. Then, I’ll try to sit down and form actual jokes from the sporadic ideas. Sometimes I’ll keep my phone by my bed and actually wake up to find that I wrote really strange ideas down. One note just says “Bbertha” (yes, that’s not a typo) and I still can’t figure out to this day what I meant by that. I still just have a lot of gibberish saved on my phone that haven’t yet turned into jokes but hopefully someday I’ll be able to use them!
What career aspirations with comedy do you have -stand-up only or film and television too?
I really love performing stand-up, so I want to continue with it and go as far as I can. I’d certainly love to explore film and television. I really haven’t done anything with either film or tv outside of stand-up related television type things, but I’m open to anything. I’d also like to keep writing comedy in some form, even if it’s just for myself.
What advice do you have or those who are considering a career in comedy?
I’d say go for it if it’s what you love. It can be terrifying, and I’m currently in college, so I still haven’t begun to really feel what it means to do it full-time. It took me awhile to convince myself to go for it. Nearly everyone I go to school with will have a nice job, working somewhere that pays a regular salary, so it often feels like I must be doing something wrong by turning down stability for telling jokes. But I would tell anyone who wants to do it to just get started right away. Open mics are readily available for anyone who is willing and even just writing funny things on Twitter or in a blog, no matter who is reading, is a great way to start. Of course, it’s important to watch all sorts of comedy because laughing often makes me more motivated to turn around and make others laugh! Also, the comedy world seems to be constantly changing and advice can get outdated fast, so take mine with a grain of salt!