- Arts + Culture
Sure, Laura Crawford has been doing comedy regularly on bills everywhere from Harvard Square’s The Comedy Studio to Central Square’s ImprovBoston and All Asia and shows in Allston, Jamaica Plain, New York and Toronto. But that wasn’t enough. So Wilmington, Mass., native and Emerson grad Crawford, 24, did what any experience-hungry comic would do: She got herself a show to host.
And when that wasn’t enough, she got another. And since two wasn’t enough, she got a third.
Now you can catch her comedy and comedy-curating even more regularly at “Comedy at The Democracy Center” in Harvard Square, “Comedy at the Enormous Room” in Central Square and “Stand-Up at Lilypad” in Inman Square. This nearly excessive level of hosting naturally raises some questions:
You have a lot of projects in play. How do you keep them straight, and are there differences between them aside from location and night?
A: Any show I run, whether it’s at Lilypad, The Enormous Room or The Democracy Center, has my favorite comics on. I ask comics to do the show if they’re hilarious, smart and fun to perform with. That being said, shows at Lilypad have featured a lot of comics doing longer-form stories, a lot of personal material that isn’t always appreciated in a noisy bar. I’ve also been lucky to have on guys like Lamont Price, Ken Reid, Matt Ruby and Josh Gondelman, who are getting well-deserved national media attention right now. The Enormous Room and The Democracy Center feature up-and-coming comics from all over New England, New York and L.A. My goal is just to make each show a fantastic experience for everyone in the audience and everyone on stage.
Without Google calendar and Google docs I would be nothing. They’re 100 percent responsible for me having any kind of organization. Blame short-term memory loss, but I’m focusing on the future. I’m in love with comedy and I’m always thinking about the next show. If more people can come see the stellar things happening in comedy and I can do my best onstage, that’s perfect.
But you’re young, still an up-and-coming comedian yourself. How do you come to have three shows?
A: Thank you, first of all, for noticing my youth. I like to say I have inherited all my comedy shows from a wealthy aunt. In truth, if you want to have your own comedy show it’s not that hard. You have to do some research and reach out to different venues. Having a supportive venue is key to making shows work. Lilypad let me try out doing my own show in November. It was called “Screwicide: Laughter in The Face of Romantic and Sexual Failure.” The success of that show convinced Lilypad that a monthly comedy show would work, and starting in June I’ve been able to have the show on twice a month. The Enormous Room show started with Sameer Naseem, a New York-based comic and DJ. He and I book and host the shows together. The Democracy Center is a low-cost space that lets you rent out rooms for shows. The venues are all supportive and appreciate comedy.
I wanted to learn how to host, and I wanted more stage time, so running my own shows seemed like a natural step. It doesn’t always go perfectly, but I like putting something together that reflects my sense of humor and entertains people.
Tell us a success story and a disaster story from your work as a comedian and host of comedy shows. In any order you like.
A: I would say that I consider it a success whenever someone who doesn’t normally go to see live comedy comes to a show and gets to see great Boston standup. But that’s not really a story. I did a comedy show this Halloween and everyone in the audience was in costume. Afterward a woman in the audience, dressed as a pregnant nun, approached me and said that her aunt and grandmother died that week. She said that my set was the first time she’d laughed since their deaths and it was a big help. That was cool.
In terms of disasters, I think a show I did in Londonderry, N.H., takes the cake. It started off just annoying — I was running late, I got very lost driving there. Upon getting to the bar I see that the audience is middle-aged adults who look like they stopped off for a drink before a Sarah Palin rally. I’m pissed at myself for getting lost and before I know it the host is introducing me. I hit the stage and, yeah, I’m a young woman, I have curly hair, I wear glasses, I’m from Cambridge. I say probably five words before an old, drunk, blonde with an Ogilvy home perm threatened to drag me out by my hair and beat the shit out of me. I try to figure out what the hell she is ranting about while various men try to restrain her massive, frightening form. I tried to do my jokes to some other people who were listening, but it was a disaster. After the show a guy in the crowd apologized for the audience’s behavior and encouraged me to keep doing comedy. He assumed this show would make me quit. That’s how poorly it went.
You’re “self-employed” as a standup comic. Tell me about deciding you’re going to do nothing but standup: How did you make the call? How’s it going? What’s your typical day like?
A: Hey, actually that’s a lie. I should probably change it on Facebook. I have myself listed as a comic primarily because I identify most with the work that I do onstage. I like the Laura Crawford that exists online to be known as a comic. After graduating college I took office jobs, pretty high-level assistant gigs that I was not qualified for and I really sucked at them. Now I do a job that is pretty much like the one I had when I was in high school, working at a bakery, but I’m a lot happier. Most people I work with know I do comedy, and its a lot more interesting work. If someday I woke up and decided that I hated comedy, never wanted to perform again, I’d just focus on food. I really like serving people — unless they’re assholes, of course.
I’d say my day revolves around working a few hours, coming home and e-mailing, contacting bookers, booking comics, working on jokes, watching standup, listening to podcasts, etc. Then I do a comedy show and come home, watch TV and pass out, repeat. Eating, showering and cleaning happen in there somewhere too.
Point us to some other great comedy, in case your three shows simply aren’t enough for people.
A: “The Tish MacIntosh Show,” produced at NewTV studios in Newton, is my other favorite project. Chloe Jankowitz, an Emerson classmate, created the show and brought me in as a writer and performer. Chloe is most famous for being an Emerson radio DJ and starting the blog “Emails from My Mother.” The show is basically like a fun and slightly twisted version of Soupy Sales or “The Mickey Mouse Club.” We combine sketch, musical performance and interviews, with a lot of kids in the mix. Look for it online.
The best place to see live comedy in New England will always be The Comedy Studio for sure. I’ve been lucky to have a relationship with them since I started doing comedy at Emerson. You get a real variety of styles and comics who are set to break big in the industry.
It seems like with the success of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and “Bridesmaids” a lot more people are starting to realize there are a lot of talented women in comedy. Not that I focus a lot on identity politics, but being in The Women in Comedy Festival in March made me ridiculously proud to be a girl doing comedy right now. If you’re looking for other girl-run comedy shows, definitely check out Jenny Zigrino’s work with Rogue Burlesque and Lillian DeVane, who hosts The Horse’s Mouth Comedy Show at Middlesex Lounge in Central Square with Rob Crean.