Arts and Culture

Broke-Ass Comedian Interview: Emily Heller

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I’ve been conducting Broke-Ass Band Interviews for a while. This is my first Broke-Ass Comedian Interview. Way better. I seriously almost pissed myself while reading the responses that I got from Emily Heller, local San Francisco comedienne extraordinaire.

She makes musicians like me wary of ever even attempting to be funny. And I do Jewish stand-up between all my songs. Like at my last show when I said that if you are a Jew, and you are agreeing with another Jew, you can say to them, “Kikewise!” Maybe one day Emily will come to one of my shows and break the news to me that I’m offensive AND not funny. Which my dad tells me after every one of my shows (last time he said, “I can’t believe you said the K-word on stage”). But I’d believe it more if it was coming from a REAL comedian and not my dad. Ok, I’m not going to ruin this by saying any more. Except to tell you what to do for a minute:

First, make sure to mark your calendars for Emily’s show this Saturday, May 14, at the Marsh in Berkeley (Here’s the Facebook invite, complete with discount ticket code! She’ll also be performing at this on Thursday.). After that, go follow her on Twitter. Then, go read her hilarious website. And finally, throw on a pair of adult diapers and relax into this:

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Introduce yourself!

I’m Emily! I do stand up comedy in the bay area and other places.

How’d you get into comedy?

I took a class in college. I just wanted to write a funny speech for my sister’s wedding, and maybe impress a boy. You know, girly shit. But I got an A+ in the class and decided that was meant to be encouragement.

Describe your comedy style in five words or less (this used to say “sound” for my band interviews. Maybe this doesn’t work for comedy).

I asked my colleague Sean Keane to field this one, and he nailed it: “Self-deprecating feminist slob poetry.”

What do you do during downtime? Have any weird hobbies?

Photoshopping my face onto celebrities’ bodies. I am very very good at this.

Awesome. I will now sprinkle a bunch of those photoshopped gems throughout this interview. Starting with this one:

Favorite thing about San Francisco?

Oh, the drag queens. For sure.

Favorite SF restaurant?

Golden Era in the Tenderloin. Delicious, terrible-for-you veggie food with culty undertones.

Favorite SF bar?

Probably Bender’s, as it’s close to the Dark Room.

Favorite venue to perform at in SF?

For big, attentive, smart crowds: the Punch Line. For crazy, glamorous, out-of-control crowds: Toolbox at Club 93.

Best dating advice?

Never leave him alone with your drink.

How do you prepare for a big show? What will you be doing the night before?

Half an hour on lats, 45 on quads, 25 on abs.

What can people expect at your shows?

Expect disappointment. You will never be disappointed. But then when you’re not disappointed, you’ll be disappointed.

What’s next for you? (i.e. plug your next show!)

I’m headlining at the Marsh in Berkeley on the 14th! Then, I’ll be hosting for John Mulaney at the Punch Line at the end of June.

Three things you’d take to a desert island?

The bible (to laugh at, then later, go crazy and pray to), a knife (to crudely shave my legs with), and some rubbing alcohol (to get fucked up).

What movie can you watch over and over and never get sick of?

The Room by Tommy Wiseau and Drive Me Crazy starring Melissa Joan Hart and Adrian Grenier. Horrible the first 6 times you watch it, then it becomes transcendent.

Favorite season or time of year?

In SF? I like our September summer, or our June winter, or our January autumn.

Three things that are in your fridge right now?

Tapatio, a moldy bowl of beans my housemate is soaking, a single leaf of a corn husk from 2009.

Anything in your sock drawer besides socks?

I keep that stuff in the living room.

…Sorry I got super distracted. Just now I saw ducks mating in my parents’ pool. Have you seen anything mating recently? Or any run-ins with wild animals? What am I talking about?

Are you asking me if I watch porn?

Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty, i.e. money:

Have any tips for aspiring comedians trying to make it on their craft?

You have nothing to worry about. If you aren’t making $10,000/month within the first year, you’re doing it wrong. This thing is a gold mine. A GOLD MINE!!

Best money saving tip in general?

Avoid online shopping at all costs (unless the costs are higher than the amount of money you would spend online shopping. Paradox!).

Where do you live now and what are some good cheap/fun things to do in that area?

I live in Western Addition, near the Fillmore. Some fun things to do around there are walk around Japantown, or take the bus to a cooler neighborhood.

What do you refuse to spend money on?

At this point? Comedy shows. I go to too many. Unless it’s someone I’m reaaaaally dying to see.

What is the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought and how did that feel?

Oh, wow. Well I recently spent $500 making a full-sized zine (hypocritical? maybe) and it felt a little ouchy. But since I make a little dough doing comedy, I got to write it off.

What’s the best deal you’ve ever gotten?

When I was living in Santa Cruz I traded a very cheap electric guitar (that I could not sell to any used instrument shops) for an hour and a half full body massage on Craigslist. Some woman drove an hour in her van, set up a table in my backyard, and totally rubbed on my butt for a while.

What is your favorite free thing to do?

I like walking through Chinatown and marveling at all the cool and useless crap they sell in the stores there.

If you woke up a millionaire, what’s the first thing you’d buy?

An apartment in New York. Sorry, SF.

What’s one GOOD thing, if you can think of one, about not having a ton of money?

Being prohibited, financially, from getting laser hair removal.

Good get-rich-quick scheme?

Selling your used underwear on the internet! I’ve never tried it, because my booty doesn’t smell enough.

Any last words?

Are you about to kill me?

*photo of Emily Heller by Ameen Belbahri

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Chloe - Pennywise Reporter

Chloe's youth was split between California and Kauai, frolicking on a macadamia nut farm in the tropics and landing finally in the Bay Area. Raised by super-Jew hippies, and the youngest of three sisters, Chloe learned early the virtues of thrift, economy, and green living. To the chagrin of her parents (who hoped, of course, for a Jewish doctor or lawyer), Chloe has put her degree from UC Berkeley to great use by becoming a folk singer. As "Chloe Makes Music" she plays shows throughout SF and beyond, donning vintage frocks, selling handmade merch, and pinching pennies as she sings for her supper. Calling Berkeley home for the last six years, you can think of Chloe as the website's East Bay Correspondent, opening your eyes to the hippie-filled, tree-hugging, organic-loving, vegan-eating, but way-overlooked and awesome assets of Berkeley, Oakland, and beyond.

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  1. […] Band Interviews” to conduct my first ever “Broke-Ass Comedian Interview” with Emily Heller. Interviewing a person whose job it is to be funny takes the pressure off of me, whose job it is to […]