The Cringe Humor Interview

The Cringe Humor Interview

By Don E. Smith Jr.
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It takes a special person to stand up in front of a crowd with a mic and try to unload their heart, personality and soul while fighting personal demons of insecurity and self-consciousness and think, “I am going to make you laugh.”
It also takes many people with different personalities and different views (some virtuous and others unscrupulous) to make an industry, and making an industry out of people who think they can make a crowd laugh is something both herculean and miraculous. But every so often, a special kind of person needs to take a stand and point out the rough edges of an industry that are in need of change.
If not, the industry is in danger of dying or becoming stagnant and pointless (when was the last time you went to a miming convention?). For stand-up comedy, Jodie Wasserman has become that individual.
Wasserman has taken a bold chance to point out that stand-up comedy needs two things to keep it relevant and alive – originality and fearlessness. Wasserman spoke with Cringe Humor and voiced her opinion on what needs to change and how it should change.

QUESTION: First, thanks for joining us, how long have you been doing stand-up?

JODIE: I have been doing stand-up for around 15 years. I grew up on Long Island after college I moved into Manhattan, started acting then went into the stand-up world.
I was taking acting classes and the teacher told me I should try stand-up I went to an open mic and never stopped.

QUESTION: How would you describe your style?

JODIE: My humor is me. I try to talk about my experiences. In my act, I tend to work off the cuff and I try to talk about real experiences. I do my best not to be lazy with my writing.

QUESTION: What do you think of the current state of stand-up?

JODIE: I say this with respect for the business, but I happen to think that many performers are a parody of what is popular. It seems that bookers aren’t looking for originality. Instead it seems they want people who are doing a parody of Dave Atell or Louis CK.

Also If I hear one more joke about the differences between white guys and black guys or the difference between men and women I am going to explode, because these jokes have been done a thousand times.
Add to the fact it seems the industry has taken on a misogynistic tone and woman bashing is popular.

QUESTION: So what does stand-up need?

JODIE: Variety and originality. As I said, there are many comedians that do a parody of what is popular.

I talk to a lot of comedians and most comedians are very frustrated because they are broke and it is getting worse and not getting better. Comedians are under paid, period. I want to see the soul back in comedy. It use to be the industry developed comedians so comedians would work out their stuff in a club. Now, working out new stuff is a risk if you’re not celebrity status. Many times you bomb more than once working new stuff out. Bomb on a night where the booker or manager is watching and that may be your last night at that club.

Do you think the greats like Richard Pryor were politically correct or pandering? No. I also think there is a double standard

For instance, why is it okay to bash gay people or women but for some reason it is not okay to bash black people? I am not advocating or preaching hate but to me there is no difference between the three. I would like to see some more consistency in that area.

QUESTION: What about comedians who make it on television like “Last Comic Standing?”

JODIE: Oh, I am sick and tired of that. When you watch television and see those so called “reality shows you are watching a show that has been cast. So when they say America’s funniest comedians I wonder, according to whom? Not saying those comedians are not talented just saying wonder what would it be if America and the live audience were really voting on it.

QUESTION: Why do you continue in this industry?

JODIE: I love performing and I want to persevere. It is difficult. I find there are varying degrees of unhappiness but I have to do this. There is something in me that compels me to perform, and while the industry can be very discouraging, ultimately I say, “Who wants to have a day job?”

QUESTION: Thanks for your time, Jodie!

JODIE: Thank you