Friday, September 3, 2010

I've Moved!!!

Don't worry, friends.  I'm still in Denver, but I've moved my blog.

You can now view it at:

Happy Blogging!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Chest Bump

During the day, I work for a software company; bridging the gap between the engineers and our customers. I'm one of two women in my office and four throughout in the company. The men are nerdy and awkward and it took them four months for most of them to utter a single word to me. I wear holey jeans, no make-up and stupid t-shirts to fit in. The three other women are strong, intelligent and the most helpful people I have ever worked with. After a year of learning from them, I have probably gained enough experience to double my salary if I ever decided to move to another company. But, I like my job, and it's not about the money.

Comedy is strangely similar to the world of computer geeks…

When I first started in stand up, the only girl I saw getting up in the scene was Melanie Karnopp at Paris on the Platte. I thought that I had an edge because I was one of two women in Denver. I also saw how easy it was to always get a spot in an open mic and showcases because I was the only girl who showed up. From this I derived a theory, which was, "Women do not have to try as hard to come up with quality material in comedy because they always have mic time and a spot in the show. Guys have to work harder to get the early spots at places like the 404 and the Squire, which is why so few women succeed." And I thought, "I'm going to be different."

Then I started seeing women comedians all over town: The beautiful and funny Jodee Champion at Comedy Works, Timmi with her giant green notebook of new jokes at the the Squire and the Lair, Melanie Karnopp (aka Heather Snow) everywhere, Pam VanNostrem with her Denver Divas at the Improv, Nicole Qualtari blogging it up for all @DenverComedy, the hilarious Nora Lynch telling stories at the Narrators, Jill Tasai, Mara Wiles and Alicia Jacobs helping Team Charpie win the Funny Final Four, Cougar Carol with her strange and awesome self, and the list goes on…. My theory is completely wrong, off-base and ignorant. How could I have had such little faith in my fellow woman?

The best thing about these ridiculously funny women is that they're also wonderful people. We look out for one another. They've all been nothing but supportive and would never throw each other under the bus.   We bomb, and we pick each other back up. Even when we bomb hard… Go Team Tits.

So, last night, like every night, after geeking out all day, I get home, put on some decent clothes, brush my hair, throw on some make-up, and roll out to wherever I think that I can get some mic time. I head over to Comedy Works with some friends to see if I can get on stand-by. It's like getting all dressed up for prom and having no one ask you to dance. I have yet to get up on stand-by. It's been eight weeks. I brought people. I swear I'm funny. There were no women on stage at Comedy Works last night. But, the guys killed it… and that heckler in the front row.

Jill Tasai gives me a ride to the next spot. She whips a 35 MPH U-turn into a parking spot across from Kinga's…. I scream ('cause I thought it was funny). She punches me and teaches me the "screaming distracts drivers" lesson. Joke fail.
We arrive at Elliot Woolsey's going away party and see Jodee Champion spit out hilariousness for her dreamboat BFF. I high five Timmi as she heads out to the Squire, slap Jodee on the ass and group chest bump Nicole Qualtieri and Melanie Karnopp. Then we get in a big circle after the show, pass around the mic for half-jokes and all of the guys all talk about wanting to bang us.

That's how we roll.

A friend in the industry recently told me that when they're looking for comedians, they're looking for good comedians… and that could lie in a man or a woman. Let's hope this is true as the Denver divas continue to tear it up.

Nice to meet you, ladies. We're going to have a lot of fun.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ten (or Sometimes Nine) Local Comics

I learned a valuable lesson last week. I do not enjoy 'officially' judging my fellow comedians.

The School of Mines apparently doesn't admit girls. Or, maybe the girls were all off studying, because I was asked to be the female judge for their monthly comedy competition, Ten Local Comics. I'm not sure why the ladies aren't flooding into The Blue Canyon Underground. It's full of soon-to-be-rich manly men that are almost all single. I'm headed back there in a couple of weeks for sure…  to compete.

There were nine comedians, all of whom I know pretty well, have seen regularly, and think are all (mostly) great people. I promised to be impartial and willingly accepted the offer for free drinks.

There were three categories (I hope I'm not giving away any industry secrets.):
  • Material
  • Stage Presence
  • Crowd Response
The paper was blank other than allotted points in each category and a space to write the comedian's name. It lacked descriptions of what exactly we were looking for, and had an allotted amount points next to each category. My mind was racing. Are these T-Scores? Do we start in the middle? What does 'Material' mean? Originality? Is the crowd supposed to respond somehow?  I was planning on copying the other judge's answers, but they kept covering them up. Nerds.

So, I winged it.

The first three comedians were staring at an unresponsive crowd and using a faulty mic. At some point the technical problems were fixed. Then came Rick Bryan, who killed it, and brought the audience to life. Vinnie Montez, Chad Neidt and Kyle Bufkin all came up, and killed it… and then the crowd no longer gave a shit, and the last two comedians bombed.

And I judged.

When we pulled all of the papers together to tally the scores, it appeared that I was the most unforgiving of the judges and gave a majority of the low scores. I didn't realize that the comedians get copies of judge's tallies…

Kyle Bufkin won the $100. He did a great job, and certainly deserved the prize.   Rick Bryan won 'Crowd Favorite'.

Afterwards, some of the guys were pretty down about the judge's perception of them (my perception of them). The reality of it is that it didn't matter. Yeah, some of their material needs a lot of work (as does mine), but that's part of the game. If you aren't willing to accept feedback and know what to do with it, then you're act probably isn't going to improve. Critiquing is vital growth in all aspects of art. So, let's cut the bullshit and be honest with each other.

If a crowd is silent, they don't think you're funny (I have certainly experienced this). But, someone else might. So I guess we just keep writing, and know that the individuals in the audience might be having a bad day, or a great day, or just broke up with a lover, or maybe got a raise. But, in the end they're usually there to laugh, even if they're a judge.

I'd rather be competing.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Third post on this blog… second post in a month…

I have an excuse. I am fucking exhausted.

When do comedians who have full-time jobs find time to write, sleep, hang with friends and family, exercise, live life and eat? If I hated my job and/or life, I would understand why people would want to quit everything and pursue comedy full-time. Fortunately, I really like my nerd-job and the fact that I’m one of two women in the office and wore a Run DMC T-Shirt, ripped jeans, no make-up and flip-flops to work today(Yes, that's me when I dyed my hair, and my brother, Mark). My family and friends are all amazing, and I have a slew of other stuff I could be doing on the side that will actually generate some additional income.

Stand-up is terribly addictive. You're invited to a party where only the strangest and most creative people fit in. It's inspiring to see a comedian's set develop and friends succeed in front of a crowd that's awesome.  The next night I'll see the funniest people bomb in front of a brutal crowd, just to pick themselves up and rock it at the next venue. It’s a talented and motivated group; constantly developing their sets, writing, and being creative. However, it can be unforgiving. If one of the club falls behind for too long, no one waits. I keep telling myself that I(and my dad) didn't spend $80k on Penn State to be a stand-up comedian full-time and give up on a career that I love so that I can stand like Wonder Woman on stage and make people laugh (Jason Keyes thinks I stand like Wonder Woman. Lucky Johnston, my Facebook fiancĂ©, is convinced that I am actually She-Hulk).

I am trying to balance my life, comedy and my job, which is the hardest I have had to work at something since balancing swimming, dance, and Model United Nations in 9th grade. 

Here's my weekly comedy/work schedule, 1/3 of which I make it to, but have proven to be my favorite spots:

Work, M-F: 7:00ish – 4:00ish
Mondays: Lion's Lair, Benders
Tuesdays: Comedy Works, The Squire
Wednesdays: Old Chicago's, The Cork (in Ft. Collins... I'm not driving there)
Thursdays: Paris on the Platte (now cancelled)
Fridays: Gennaro's, 404
Saturdays: Bovine Improv Classes
Sundays: Comedy Works South, Kinga's

Luckily, I’m still not very funny, and am rarely invited to do any other shows. This became clear after I did a writing workshop and realized that I was talking about nothing of value; yammering on about how I'm a whore and giving listeners the impression that I am generally a terrible, conceited person who likes to make fun of people's disabilities, races, and unfortunate circumstances. If you know me at all, you know that this is only a small portion of my daily thought process. I also very much dislike most children that I'm not related to and any food that looks even remotely similar to baby vomit.

I suppose it’s time to be a little bit more true to myself. So, what the hell should I talk about now?
  • Waxing?
  • Synchronized Swimming?
  • 12 years of working in amusement parks?
  • Catholicism?
  • The meth house in my backyard?

Here's to writing…. and to keeping my day job.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

This Joke is for You, Ken.

Last night, I did my first set at Comedy Works in Denver. I was floored at the amount of support I received from my friends and family who came out. No need for a Facebook invite. I had two minutes to make them giggle. It was a success.

My main joke was about dating a deaf guy and having learned all of my sign language from playing poker with the hearing impaired. Which is actually a true story… slightly exaggerated, of course.

I started playing poker when I was living in New Jersey in 2004. The town I lived in neighbored Seaside Heights, where the ‘Jersey Shore’ is filmed. I hated that place and dove into playing poker nightly to deal with the anxiety and stress of my job and living in the least friendly state in the union. It was a crazy time, and I spent most of it in Atlantic City.

After a year of misery, I got the hell out of Jersey and quit playing poker.

Then, last summer, I started playing free Hold 'em at a great little coffee shop/bar, Gallop CafĂ©, in my neighborhood. This weekly activity completely changed my life as I knew it. I met a group of people that turned into my Denver family. Among them, Emily Chaney (Paris on the Platte), who is responsible for me getting into the comedy scene. She is a poker force to be reckoned with… I'd give away all of her tells, but then she would change them, and I would no longer be able to take all of her money. My poker family has seen me through substantial weight loss, depression, several boyfriends, break-ups, unemployment, a new job, and my start in comedy.

Among this eclectic group of people were three players who play regularly for the National Deaf Poker Tour: Ken, Raymond and Genie. They were constantly signing across the table to each other. I started asking about the signs, because it was crucial in my winning against them. Regardless, they would almost always take all of my chips.

Of the three, Ken was the one that I felt closest to. This wasn't because when I pointed to my mouth and asked if he could read lips, he puckered up and leaned in.

Ken has traveled all over the nation; teaching sign language classes and training ASL instructors. The plan (my plan) was to bribe him with a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue to get him to teach me sign language. He was just as sneaky with signing as he was with pocket pairs. I asked him the sign for "University" once. He tricked me and had actually taught me the sign for "Pussy" which I used about 20 times before he told me that he had been messing with my head. For the longest time, I couldn't figure out why he always wanted to talk about where I went to school and why he couldn't stop laughing when I did. I did not graduate from Pennsylvania State Pussy. Most of what he taught me has made it into my joke. (except for fisting... which Ben Kronberg suggested. It's funny. I like it. Not Fisting. The joke. )

I did learn all of the sign language that I know from playing poker with deaf people, their family members, and ASL instructors. I did go out with a deaf guy who was under the impression that I knew sign language. I never bought a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue for Ken, which is why I still speak sign language poorly.

Immediately after I did my first set at Comedy Works, my friend Tammy told me that our friend, Ken, had died that day.

Rest In Peace, buddy. You will always hold a place in my heart… and my joke.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Here goes it...

Blogging doesn't seem necessary until there's a point when one feels that they need to explain their actions.

Here's a good exercise for everyone to try:

In one sentence, explain the first impression that you give people.  If someone was to describe you, what would that description be?
  • I would be: The tall girl with blonde hair that you have probably seen at that dive bar.
  • I used to be: That famous college football player's girlfriend...  the tall one.
I like the first title better.
  • I hope to become: Heather Snow, you've seen her.  She's funny.
I'm doing my best to become a part of Denver's local comedy scene.   The comics here are certainly friendly and supportive, but you can tell that you're not funny when no one is laughing.  I don't care how pretty you are, that's not going to cut it.  (No matter how much they want to hug you when you get off stage.)

So here goes:  I'm Heather Snow. I'm six feet tall, a girl & I'm going to be funny.