Mara Wiles on her return to comedy following a kidney transplant
Comedian Mara Wiles hasn't had it easy the last few years. After establishing herself as an intelligently goofy performer on the local comedy scene, she was diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening kidney disorder that, to say the least, interrupted her ascending career as a standup. And Denver's comedy community, which had grown to know her so well, came to her aid with old-school, pass-the-hat donations taken at regular events, as well as several standup benefits that brought together the best performers our city has to offer. Now home from the hospital after her recent kidney transplant (special thanks to Jessica Anderson for her selfless donation) Wiles chatted with us about about how her illness prevented her from working, saying goodbye to Ladyface, and why Denver comedians are so loyal.
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Westword: I'm sure I'm about the zillionth person to ask you this, but how are you feeling?
Mara Wiles: I'm feeling great, actually -- and I don't mind you asking that, it's better than telling people I feel like shit. I could feel a change right after the surgery. But I still have to take it easy for the next few weeks; my immune system is low and I can't really be around people. And that's hard, because I really want to go out.
I can imagine, especially for a comedian. You guys live for the nightlife.
Yeah, since I found out about needing the kidney transplant I'd been trying to go out to as many shows as possible, but I really can't that much. Not as much as I should be, definitely not hitting open mics as much as other people are. Whenever I got booked for anything, I'd have to come home right after. And then when winter hit, I pretty much only did the [Arguments and Grievances] debate show once a month. Maybe sneaking myself onto Too Much Fun every once in a while.
Writing. I didn't realize it until halfway through my treatment, but one of the side effects of kidney disease is cloudy thoughts. So I haven't been working with my brain for, like, six months. You don't think straight, you get tired easily, nothing comes like it used to. It's like walking through a fog. At my job, things that I used to do easily were a struggle -- for a while I just thought I was getting dumber as I got older.
I'm really excited to get back into writing again, because the jokes I wrote while I was sick felt forced, they weren't my tone, there was no insight. So I'm going to take the next few months to get healthy, get back to feeling like a person, and write as much as possible. I want to get into some new things with sketch comedy.
I think you spoke with Kristin Rand about this, but Ladyface has disbanded during all this stuff. Kristin and I are going to be doing some kind of sketch show together, and that's what I'll be focused on. And getting my standup back to where it needs to be.