For the Love of “The Game”: How I fell in love with comedy and why I’m in UCB Sketch 101
On April 2, 2020, I took the first step in fulfilling a lifelong dream: write sketch comedy. My dream started during the summer of fifth grade when I would watch Comedy Central ALL.DAY.LONG and study The Kids in the Hall and Saturday Night Live (SNL). To me this type of comedy was much more appealing than what I should’ve been watching on Nickelodeon. To me, I didn’t understand why shows like All That were funny. My sense of humor was obviously too grown up and sophisticated at 10 years old.
Eventually I started recording live episodes of SNL on VHS because it was the mid-90’s. Very quickly I had three new female role models: Cheri Oteri, Molly Shannon, and Ana Gasteyer. The cast overall at that time was amazing–I loved every single person! I even bought a handheld tape recorder in high school so I could say, “Note to self” into it like Norm MacDonald, who I believed(and still believe)was a genius.
I could gush on my love of SNL for hours and all of the cast members I adore (shout out to Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Kristen Wiig, Rachel Dratch, and many many more!)… but I just wanted to establish that comedy was something I fell in love with many years ago, and for some reason, never chose to act on as an adult. During adolescence, my friend Katie and I would reenact the skits we’d recorded. Mainly for ourselves and sometimes our families. One thing I want to say about Katie is that 1: She is still one of my best friends in the world, and 2: She was the first person my age that understood and appreciated comedy the way I did. She helped me to be more confident. Even now, she is still cheering me on!
When we got a little older we started making videos that were replicas of the stunts we saw on The Tom Green Show and Jackass. Katie and I managed to rope-in our other friends with these shenanigans. I sometimes imagine how that would translate nowadays. We’d probably be in jail. Eventually, I became a member of the school TV show and sometimes some of my friends and I’s original content showed up there.
My friends Liz, Julie, and I came up with a segment we called, “Freak of the Week.” The segment opened with a short snippet (because we didn’t want to get sued) of the song “Freak of the Week” by Marvelous 3. I can’t even listen to the song without tearing up a little, because it takes me back to such a fun and creative time in my life. Our teacher, Mr. Leibu, was not thrilled about this segment. And, as a former teacher, I now understand why. However, Mr. Leibu was awesome and he let us do it. Thanks again, Bruce!
We cranked out several of these segments featuring our peers who we considered to be really funny. Many of the people we profiled were our good friends. To this day, when I watch these videos back, I see so much promise. My friend Liz is really funny. We made a good writing team before we knew that was a “thing”. We would improv and do funny things all the time, much to the chagrin of a lot of our peers.
In college, I would meet my dear friend Julie K.(another Julie) who was as weird and imaginative as me. We still have a long-standing bit that remains hilarious to us (and only us) almost 20 years later. My longtime friend and former college roommate, Bailey, is another person who just gets and respects comedy as well. We also have several long-running bits that still stand the test of time.
Flash-forward to the present. I just turned 36. Every New Year’s Eve, I make a list of 12 goals for the year–one for every month, a tradition I stole and adapted from my friend Marcela and her family. On this year’s list I included: “Take a sketch comedy writing class or hip-hop dance class.” Not sure why I lumped them together? Maybe because both things would take me out of my comfort zone.
I’ve known about the classes offered at UCB for a long time. When I have been in transition periods of my life, I’ve always flirted with the idea of moving to NYC and taking sketch comedy writing classes. I never did. Mainly because I am so practical and the idea of relying on “making it” in comedy just wasn’t something that I thought was possible. It was a dream of mine–really a fantasy because it just wasn’t something I ever saw coming to fruition.
I’m not sure when they added an online version of their Sketch 101 class, but I’ve had my eye on it now for several months, possibly a year. My boyfriend, who started a guitar immersive program in early March, encouraged me to go for the opportunity to take the class at UCB. My boyfriend is awesome and even though he does not enjoy geeking out on the history of comedy and behind the scenes stuff that I enjoy, he understands that it’s something that I love and I’m thankful for his encouragement.
I found a class on Thursday evenings and stalled. What if I was terrible? What if no one thinks I’m funny? I’m a perfectionist and I don’t like to do things I’m not good at… BUT I’d never tried to write comedy before. Never formally, at least. I have never put pen to paper unless to write a song parody with Julie K. back in the day (Side note: We did an amazing re-write of You Oughta Know about these two guys we liked our freshman year in college). If I find out I’m terrible, then at least I’d tried it. I’d hate to look back on my life and regret that I didn’t give it a shot. SO… I signed up, and here I am.
I’ve been listening to Mindy Kaling’s first book, Is Everyone Hanging Out With Me?, whenever I get the chance. I walk a lot and I enjoy hearing the authors read their life stories. I’ve read both of Mindy’s books and in hearing her story again I related so much to her love for comedy–and I respect and admire her SO MUCH. To be honest, I’m not exactly sure how this post started today, but I think Mindy’s words had something to do with it.
I just finished and presented my first ever sketch in my class this week. I was so incredibly nervous to put myself out there like that… but as in most situations where you step outside your comfort zone, it was fine! Great, actually! To hear other people laugh (and at this point courtesy laughs are acceptable) was the greatest feeling in the world. I can’t wait to see where this takes me.