Comedy Blogedy: How long have you been gigging in stand-up?
Lea Emery: I’ve been gigging for about a year, I think I’m around 30 gigs in.
Comedy Blogedy: How would you describe your comedy?
Lea Emery: It’s self-deprecation the whole way through– essentially a chronicle of embarrassing stories and social anxieties but exaggerated.
Comedy Blogedy: Which comedians influence your comedy?
Lea Emery: As far as my set I actually get a lot from TV shows like 30 Rock and Miranda, or at least like to think I have a similar style. Comedians that I love at the minute are Louis CK and have been having a second love of George Carlin- which means spending way too much time on Youtube.
Comedy Blogedy: Did you always want to go into comedy?
Lea Emery: I had grown up doing theatre and improv, then I started doing improv again a couple of years ago. I think standup had been brewing in the back of my mind, but it took me a lot of time (and vodka) to get up the nerve to jump in and try it.
Comedy Blogedy: How do you go about writing your material?
Lea Emery: I don’t usually sit down and write, although I’m starting to do that more. Usually just taking a funny true story or situation and reworking it and trying to get some good moments out of it- trying to make it as ridiculous as possible while still being within the realms of believability. Luckily I make a fool out of myself enough in real life I’m in no danger of running out of material.
Comedy Blogedy: Do you gig as a stand-up full time or is it more of a part-time hobby? If so, do you find that your main job influences your material?
Lea Emery: It’s part time, although I’m hoping to start doing more and more of it. I’m actually a law student at the moment and I do a lot of international human rights law, so it doesn’t really influence as much as provides a nice juxtaposition. My first degree was in political rhetoric, which was more connected because I think it helped me have an eye for interesting diction and syntax. But with law I spend a lot time reading about things like genocide or the breakdown of the former Yugoslavia- obvious comedy gold. It does seem to confuse people that just know what I study when they hear that I do stand up- people assume if you study human rights you must spend all of your free time watching Holocaust documentaries or something, but I find that letting off some steam helps.
Comedy Blogedy: What do you find the most enjoyable and frustrating parts of the amateur comedy circuit?
Lea Emery: You get to meet a lot of great people and a lot of them are really supportive, but not all. I think there’s a lot of hunger in the people on the circuit and that can breed competition and egos, which is the most frustrating part. Luckily, that’s few and far between and balanced out by all of the interesting and hilarious people! With a lot of comedians there’s an immediate understanding I think, it’s like “I’m not great at life, so I do this. You do this, so you’re probably not great at life either- let’s be friends, apologies if I’m a bit grating”.
Comedy Blogedy: What’s your favourite type of audience to perform to?
Lea Emery: I’ve actually found student crowds to be really supportive- not just because I’m also a student but I think they are genuinely excited to be there. It’s something they chose to do rather than just wandering into a pub. Also I find that the more people have paid often the better audience they are- there’s an expectation that the acts are going to be better and they want them to be better because they’ve paid more. But then again sometimes you have a great packed night in the back of a tiny pub no one has ever heard of, so every night is different.
Comedy Blogedy: Have you been heckled a lot since you’ve started gigging? Do you enjoy being heckled? What’s the best heckle you’ve had?
Lea Emery: I haven’t been heckled a lot, but I have been heckled. I enjoy it if it’s something that you can engage with- if it has a topic or point of view, but usually it doesn’t- I got a ‘take your top off, love’ at one of my earliest gigs and was mortified! I think the best heckle was when it came from another comedian who just started well, joining in I supposed. He immediately realised he had just heckled and was a bit surprised at himself and obviously felt terrible- the whole thing was just silly and didn’t take away from my set at all, I think it probably helped because there was a good back and forth!
Comedy Blogedy: What advice would you give to new acts thinking about starting out in comedy?
Lea Emery: If you’re just starting, don’t make any firm decisions about how you feel about comedy until after you’ve done 15 or 20 gigs. You’re going to have some shit ones in the beginning and they will throw you, but you have to take a step back and try to have a more holistic point of view- there are going to be a lot of shit gigs, but (hopefully!) balanced out by many more great ones.
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