Chicago comedian Amy Eisenberg created monthly showcase, "Just Dickin' Around," as a platform for female comedians to perform in a safe and supportive environment. Recently, comedians Tamale Sepp, Marla Depew and Krista Atkinson came on board. Eisenberg spoke with Our Town about her influences and how being bad at life makes her good at comedy.
Our Town What separates JDA from other comedy events?
Amy Eisenberg I wanted to create a platform where female stand-up comedians can be brilliant and fearless with their work, talent, and comedy, an environment where the ladies can let it all hang out and go balls to the wall!
OT Why include an open mic?
AE Why not.....? My motto has always been "Go BIG, then go home/”The fact of the matter is, in the world of open mic, regardless of how far we've come with women's lib, it's still super difficult for females to feel empowered to perform. I pride myself in creating an open mic that's free of political favoritisms. It's so disheartening to show up to an open mic where favored comedians are allowed such things as jumping the roster, being provided a longer set time, and having private cheering sections which makes any new face feel like they don't belong. Here, every comedian is treated equal.
OT Why are women only spaces important in comedy?
AE Women deserve to have an honest space to feel free, so they can have the opportunity to make mistakes, grow, and learn while embracing their talent. There is something to be said about the magic that happens between women when they come together. It’s untouchable.
OT What drew you to stand-up?
AE My life... and not being good at it. Doesn't that deserve to be shared?
OT Best/ worst stand-up experience?
AE The best/worst stand-up experience for me was when I was in the middle of a joke, my mind went blank, and no words came out… So I just stood there, marinating in all of my awkwardness until I finally just acknowledged it. Then I realized that fucking up isn't that bad and that sometimes when you fuck up, it’s a gift; you end up with a brand new joke or an even better punch line.
OT Who are some influences?
AE Beth Stelling, George Carlin, Velma from Scooby-Doo, Margaret Cho, Bambi….not the stripper , the cartoon…on second thought, maybe both, Chelsea Handler, Dads…. not mine! The ones that actually take care of their children.
OT Talk to me about rape jokes.
AE Lez be honest, this question seems to be a little bit rapey, and since I can’t relate I’m gonna just “Kelly Clarkson” WALK AWAY, so I don’t end up “bad touching “this question. Puts both hand up in the air and walks away.
OT How do you handle hecklers?
AE I put them on the spot and show them how funny they’re not!
OT Who is your dream audience member?
AE My mom would be my dream audience member. I lost my mom to Leukemia when I was 12. I’ve never lived my life thinking or striving to be what I thought my mom would have wanted me to be. I just try and keep it simple and remind myself to just be happy. Ironically stand-up comedy brought me back to my small town, a neighboring town over Dixon IL to perform with the Mumford and Sons festival. The night after I finished my performance, a woman introduced herself as a friend of my mom’s. [She said] I don’t know if you know this or not, but you are so much like your mother! Your mom would [make] everyone laugh for hours, and I always remember how your mom wanted out of this town so bad, but she never did and I’m look at you right now and all I can see your mother, I can just see her… and you’re doing it! You’re doing all the things she wanted to do and talked about doing, but never did.” And that’s when I realized… like I said earlier, I’ve never lived my life thinking or striving to be what I thought my mom would have wanted me to be by saying things like, if I do this or that my mom would have been so proud. What’s so fucking awesome is that if she was here or if she was in the audience, she WOULD be proud…so f-cking proud.
Catch Amy and crew the first and third Thursdays of the month at Hydrate and the second Thursday of the month at The Parlor.
A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for sites like Pop Matters and
afterellen.com Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," was called “poetic and heartrending” by ALA Booklist. Sarah 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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