Standup ShaNae Ross on clean comedy, Denver's best venues and being the "Butt Girl"
ShaNae Ross doesn't tell dirty jokes. She doesn't get political, unless you count poking fun at racial differences as she does in a bit where she asks the audience to guess an imaginary person's race based on their name. She also doesn't approach religion, despite having a religious background. Ross was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, went to high school in Aurora, and entered the comedy world by participating in the 2006 Comedy Works New Face Talent Competition. Since then, she found ways to address risky subjects in her own way and made the Denver Improv in Stapleton her home-away-from-home.
Nina Ross Comedian ShaNae Ross performs at her favorite venue, the Denver Improv.
Tonight she will perform in the Improv's Ladies Night Out showcase; next week, she will host three nights with Bruce Bruce, actor and former host of BET's ComicView. We recently sat down with Ross to discuss her future plans, her favorite comedy venues and getting recognized in the grocery store as the "Butt Girl."
Westword: How did you get started in standup?
ShaNae Ross: Oh, man. That's many, many moons ago. [Laughs.] Actually, it was recommended. Someone from my church was like, "You should try being a comedian." I was like, "Oh... kay." So, I did my research and started off at Comedy Works. I started doing some open mics there, and the competitions that they had. Then I ventured off and came here to the Denver Improv. I've been doing comedy for seven years now.
Were you the funny kid in school? Did people just see that in you?
Yeah. It was the Senior Superlatives. I was voted "Class Clown" and "Funniest Female" in middle school and in high school. I never thought that I would be a comedian, but I've been stuck with it ever since.
Do you have standup comedy heroes that you look up to?
Yeah, I do. I think, for me, it's the normal ones like Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy -- and, I would say, female comics like LaWanda Page, Moms Mabley, Wanda Sykes, Ellen DeGeneres. Yeah, there's a few.
Do you see it as harder for women to be accepted in the comedy world, or is it pretty common at this point?
Nah, I still think it's a challenge, because they see us before they actually hear us. For me, I've got not only the fact that I'm a female comic, but it's also me being a minority. That has something to do with it as well -- especially here in Colorado. It's more of a challenge to do comedy here versus the South or the East Coast.