Comedian Kelsie Huff on Boulder Fringe, the stand-up bug and insult-compliments
Can you talk a little bit about the workshop you're teaching?This one is trying to find that personal narrative, so trying to find your voice and your truth and how you can translate that into stand-up comedy. I think a lot of people have a story to tell, everybody does, and I think using that to translate into stand-up is what I'm really focusing on, like how to make a punchline with your story. It's not just, like, I woke up today and I brushed my teeth and this thing happened to me, although that's what it is. It's how to use that point of view and use that as a structure of a joke and also to formulate who you are as a character, but the character is obviously yourself. How to heighten yourself in the world of stand-up. So that's the goal. Also, what I think is gonna be super radcakes is that the people who take the workshop, if they so desire, I am gonna be hosting "Big Time," which is the late-night show, so we're gonna have an open mic night one day, so hopefully everybody who takes the workshop will get their three minutes of glory at "Big Time" as well.
What it really is about is building your confidence. So these folks, who, maybe they're performers but they've never flexed their stand-up muscles. Or maybe they've never performed before; that's so great to see. I have seen these people take a workshop similar to this one and just find their voice and find how powerful and funny they are. Especially women. I mean, women are a little more intimidated. It's a different environment, so finding their voice and watching them watch it, oh man, it's so fun.
What make you want to help other people tell their stories?
I do this show called the kates, I do a lot of women-centric comedy stuff, probably because I was one, or am, I still am. [Laughs.] But I remember being a kid and really loving humor. I would watch Eddie Murphy's Delirious over and over and over and I remember going to recess and trying to retell the story, and there were curse words, so this one little girl called me a slut. So I was a slut, because I said this. I thought slut was hilarious for years. I had no idea what the difference was. And I feel like there is sort of this stigma sometimes, especially, like, teenage girls. They stop using that voice, they stop thinking they have the power. And to tell a joke in front of a room full of drunk strangers is powerful. I think I just got the bug and I want to pass it on like a virus. And I do think that people do have that story, and connecting to an audience that might relate or see themselves in a reflection of that story is super-powerful. And I don't know, I just like people finding that. Maybe I read too much Joseph Campbell, but I think going back and finding your story and then splurting that story out to your tribe, there's something so human about it.
What was the first time that you did stand-up?
Oh, my gosh, it was horrible. I actually did stand-up when I first came to Chicago. I went to a sports bar in Wrigleyville and I was eighteen years old and I was like, I'm gonna rule! And I basically got up at this open mic and all these drunk frat dudes were just yelling "Show us your boobs" and things like that out at me, so that was real bad. That scarred me for a while. I didn't do stand-up for a very long time. But now I can handle that. Years later, I can handle that story very well. It taught me how to work a room, even an aggressive room. I try to remind myself, sometimes you gotta start loving those moments of failure. Because stand-up comedy you never know, it could be the greatest night of your life, or you could wanna kill yourself. Once those lines start bleeding together and you can start kind of liking the failure or liking when the joke just gets silence -- that's when I think you're really invested. You gotta fight a little bit, and you gotta kind of love the fight.
Kelsie Huff will host the opening-night celebration, complete with the "All You Can Artist" buffet, starting at 6:30 p.m. tonight at the Lazy Dog Lounge; tickets are $5. An after party follows in the Fringe Central Beer Garden.
This Show Might Be Terribleruns August 18 at 4 p.m., August 19 at 5 p.m., August 20 at 9:30 p.m., August 22 at 9:30 p.m., August 24 at 7:30 p.m., and August 25 at 5:30 p.m. at the East Theater at the Dairy Center for the Arts. Tickets, $10 for students and seniors and $12 general admission, are available at the door or in advance at boulderfringe.com.
"You Time! Personal Narratives in Stand-up Comedy" runs from noon to 3 p.m. on August 19 at Naropa. To register, $45, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 917-495-2277.
"Big Time" will end every day of the Fringe Fest, starting tomorrow and running through August 25. It's free at the Folsom Street Coffee House.