Comic and writer Erin Judge is a renaissance woman. Not only has she appeared on NBC's Last Comic Standing and written for Salon, but she’s also penned “Vow of Celibacy,” a novel about a bisexual stylist for which she currently seeks a publisher. Judge brings her comedic stylings to Chicago August 3rd. Catch her at Chicago’s Truth or Lie Reading Series at 7:30 and at Town Hall Pub at 9:30. But first, read what she has to say about her influences, material and cribbing from other comics. (She was eleven, okay?)
OT When was the first time you realized you were funny?
EJ In middle school, I used to just repeat things I saw stand-up comics say on TV. That was the way I first got laughs from my peers, and the way I went from ostracized weird kid to having some friends. In my defense, I was 11 years old.
OT Who are your influences?
EJ When I started stand-up 12 years ago, my favorite comics were Chris Rock and Margaret Cho. Their hour specials ("Bring the Pain" and "I'm the One That I Want," respectively) blew my mind when I was in college. These days I think we all look up to Louis CK. I also really admire a lot of younger comics, like Baron Vaughn, Emily Heller, Myq Kaplan, Jared Logan, Aparna Nancharla. My peers influence me and push me to be better and smarter and funnier.
OT How do you hone your stand up material?
EJ I figure out a lot of jokes when I'm working out or taking a shower. That's just when my mind seems to do best with bits. Sometimes I get an idea for a joke while driving and I have to endanger myself and others by grabbing my phone and pressing a button on my voice recorder app. I hereby apologize to everyone. I will endeavor to remember to pull over first in the future.
OT For you, what's the difference between writing for the page and writing for the stage?
EJ I never type out my material for the stage. Stand-up is a unique beast. The elements of spontaneity and natural human speech have to be present, and I find the best way to achieve that is to work everything out on stage or in my head. My writing definitely has a rhythm like the spoken word, just because I'm a very auditory person, but I don't feel the same pressure to include constant punchlines. I co-wrote a comedic play once, and we actually improvised the entire thing out before we wrote anything down. It's so important to me to have an extremely high density of jokes for anything I've done on stage.
OT As a comic, are any topics off limits?
EJ I love stand-up because absolutely nothing is off-limits. Personally, there are topics that I'd like to tackle but I haven't quite figured out a way to make them funny yet. I think if you're gonna dive into the real dirt of life, your responsibility is to at least make it funny first. Otherwise you're just saying it for shock value or because you enjoy upsetting people. Lots of comics do. I've lost a lot of people to cancer, and I'd like to talk about it, but pretty much everyone has lost somebody to cancer. I have to be pretty damn sure that what I have to say is funny and also worth the audience's attention before I get into a topic that might bum people out or make people angry.