Published on Nov 1st, 2015 | by Free Standup NYC
Q&A with: Emma Willmann and Andrew Bayroff
If you haven't seen Emma WIllmann on stage, you're missing out. I sat down with Emma to disucss her life, and how she appraoches stand up comedy. Enjoy!
First, let’s get the big question out of the way: Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead?
Since I dedicated myself to hustling 24/7, I never watch any tv shows...but I saw an episode of Game of Thrones once, and thought it was incredible!
I see you went to the New School. What did you study? Degree?
I went to the new school and got a Masters in Media Studies and did a specialized focus on entertainment management. I actually did an independent study on Celebrity Construction in the United States as it Relates to American Ideals of Capitalism (basically how you turn a person into a product, and what goes into distribution and celebrity construction).
Did you start your career in Maine, or are you a “NY Comic”?
I technically started doing comedy in Boston, however, when I was in 5th grade my teacher had a deal with me: I would not disrupt the class and she would give me 5 - 10 minutes at the end of every math class to just talk. I would get up in front of the class and do a little routine about everything that had happened that morning. Needless to say, I failed math class. But she was the first person to really book me ;)
I’ve asked this type of question, in one form or another, in other Q&As: Do you consider yourself a gay comic, or a comic that is gay?
I mean, it's such a funny question. Clearly, I am a comedian, who is also gay. I just did the Just for Laughs Festival, South Beach Comedy Festival, was a finalist last year in March Madness and New York’s Funniest...those are not gay events, those are comedy events that I was in, as a comedian. So, I guess do the math on that.
What’s the next big event happening for you as a comic?
I recently filmed for People Magazines Sexiest Man Alive TV segment on Lifetime - that's the ray of light on the horizon, so excited for that. Other then that, colleges, shows, auditions, successes, rejection, rejection, rejection, rejection, repeat.
What or who makes you laugh? Someone funny in your family?
My family absolutely make me laugh! My dad is SO funny, my mom is hilarious, and my sister is super funny too. I love watching good comedy as well. I am in Wyoming right now and on the flight over I listened to Jared Logan's album, which I love. I love watching people where you aren't sure what is going to happen, more than just the joke structure element of surprise, you really cant tell where there personality is going to go...I need something to be super just BAM to shake me out of observing something as a critique and get into it as a person. When I don’t have my "watching stand up comedy" hat on, people just crack me up all the time - for better and worse.
Are there topics you deem as off-limits?
The only topics I find off limits are things that aren't true for me, so if something feels like a topic I am going after for the wrong reason (artificial stuff like, "I think I should write about...") or it's something I know nothing about and can't find a bridge to relate to, that's off topic ish. In general, if you can really find a unique take on something that's your own...nothing is off limits, however. There are topics I avoid because they are just over done, "men do this and woman do this...I just moved to LA and WOW everyone has a head shot..." Cheap applause stuff, etc.
What’s the one thing people do not know about you?
Oh man, I am not sure. I am not famous, so, everything? I got into comedy because I tried to invent something and had a patent pending...but sent the product prototype to a scam developer, was so devastated I went to a comedy show and...took it from there. I am related to President Garfield, John Cheever, and Richard Garfield who created the card game Magic The Gathering. My great great grandfather also invented the main process for improving the pasteurization of milk, that would be pretty scary if someone knew all that, hey stalker. I also used to ghost write rap lyrics and interned at a hip hop recording studio in Boston (this did not work out, clearly.)
What has been the biggest pain in the ass for you so far as a comic?
The biggest pain is isolation, to make it in my view, it's like...youre' trying to start a fire with your feet and whatever you are running on...you have to run so hard, and so fast that a flame builds around you and you propel yourself into another level - that's a grind and a mentality that never turns off, which can make you by default extremely self absorbed (almost out of self preservation. Though, I'd love to hear other peoples thoughts on this and managing your identity when your identity is also your business). So, isolation, uncertainty...also developing in front of people is great but also really hard, clearly. It's just really, really, really hard...that's the greatest part and the hardest part so far :)
Your least favorite topic to write about?
My least favorite topic to write about isn’t so much a specific topic but a mental slip into where I'll start thinking, what SHOULD I write about? What would people WANT TO HEAR? Which clearly is so important, but there's a Catch 22. People want to hear something original, real, and true to you that may or may not relate to them...and that seems like it comes only when you are not thinking about what people want, but are more saying your truth and what you need to express.
"...Colleges, shows, auditions, successes, rejection, rejection, rejection, rejection, repeat."