Photo by Elizabeth McQuern
Comedy producer Nellie Huggins is a comic’s best friend. Not only has she produced comedy shows for the likes of mainstays The Lincoln Lodge and Mayne Stage, but she covers comedy for Gapers Block and has just started a new podcast series designed to showcase comedians and performers. She spoke with Our Town about her favorite comedians, the art of producing and why she’s a comedy nerd.
Our Town You self identify as a comedy nerd. What’s so interesting about comedy?
Nellie Huggins Oh God, everything. Comedy is one of the few mediums that everyone can relate to, regardless of language, age, gender, cultural background. It’s a universal language. We are born knowing how to laugh. We can say things through comedy that we may not otherwise be able to say. I believe that just like some people are born with a musical ear, some people are born with an ear for comedy.
OT Who are your favorite stand ups and why?
NH So many. Janeane Garofalo has been my favorite since I was 12. I used to sneak out of my room late at night to watch her specials. I love how smart and unapologetic she is. Currently, I love Maria Bamford, Paul F. Tompkins, Patton Oswalt, Louis CK and Kristen Schaal so much. There’s something to be said for nerdy, awkward, honest, raw, smart comedy, and I’m grateful that they exist. Local comics Dan Telfer, Candy Lawrence, Ever Mainard and Kelsie Huff blow my mind every time I see them. They are definitely the future of comedy.
OT I ask everyone who cares about comedy this: Was Bridesmaids funny?
NH I can understand both sides of the argument from an objective standpoint. Me personally? I loved it, saw it twice in the theater and own it on DVD. I love Kristin Wiig and Maya Rudolph and Melissa McCarthy and that entire supporting cast. It was so refreshing to see these smart, beautiful women on the screen doing things that, ten years ago, would have never worked. I like when anyone pushes a boundary and the humor in that movie resonates with my own. I guess my answer to this question is yes, Bridesmaids was funny.
OT How did you get started producing stand up showcases?
NH Kind of on accident. A friend of mine was performing in a local showcase and they were looking for new producers. She referred me because she thought I would enjoy it, and she was right! I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I loved it instantly. Once I had a few shows under my belt, I started producing my own one-off’s and I haven’t stopped! [I do] concept, development, marketing, booking, promoting. Everything from the idea of a show to the execution of a show.
OT Funniest moment in cinematic history?
NH The first scene of The Jerk. “I was born a poor black child” is one of the best lines, ever.
OT Funniest moment in your personal history?
NH I was nine and my hair caught on fire in our kitchen. I had no idea what was happening - I was leaning against the counter and there was a lit candle sitting by the edge. Everyone in the room started screaming and I was so confused, just throwing my head around, trying to see what the big deal was, while the flame grew. It took me a minute to understand why my Mother was tackling me, and then I finally smelled burning hair. I’m pretty sure I hid in my room the rest of that night.
OT Tell me about your monthly show, Show Us Your Goods.
NH Show Us Your Goods is a new show that I developed with one of my partners, Zealous Good. They are a local company who help connect people who have items they want to donate with charities in need. Charity work and fundraisers are a huge part of my life, so this partnership was sort of perfect. The show will be monthly, and will feature some of the city’s most talented comedians, musicians, performance artists and everything in between, and all proceeds will go to a different charity each month.
OT What can listeners expect from your new podcast series?
NH I am going to be hanging out with performers, comedians, writers and artists in Chicago and providing listeners with an insider’s perspective into their lives/careers/brains. It’s sort of a backstage pass that listeners may not otherwise get. I’m really excited about it, and already have a few recordings in the bag.
Check out Huggins' podcast series here.
A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for a number of web sites and print publications. Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," (Soft Skull press) is available for pre-order here. She is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
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