Welcome to THE GREEN ROOM a new Q&A series featuring the ladies just starting out in the comedy world. They might be “green” now, but weren’t we all.
Today we hear from DARCY BURKE. Darcy and I grew up together in Durango, CO – though I a few years her senior – and I believe she’ll be a future star of the stand-up/storytelling scene.
How long have you been performing? Can you give a brief history of your relationship with comedy?
I did stand up for the first time in college, but I grew up doing community and high school theatre. Mainly obscure, royalty free Shakespeare and yearly productions of A Christmas Carol. I didn’t really start performing comedy on a regular basis until about two years ago when I moved to New York.
I started taking classes in improv, sketch and stand up at the UCB and The PIT. I was lucky enough to do an internship with The PIT and I am currently interning at the UCBT (I am getting really good at cleaning theatre bathrooms). I am a big believer in sweeping some floors and paying your dues, and the communities surrounding both those theatres have been really great and welcoming.
What is your focus right now with your material? (i.e. what are you trying to say?)
I still feel like I am trying to figure out exactly what my voice is and having the courage to trust it. I know that when I perform a bit or joke that is honest to who I am that I can feel it. Just as when I do something that isn’t, it doesn’t feel right. The biggest thing I’ve learned over the last two years is that I am funnier if I am being honest on stage, people sense when you are being disingenuous.
What do you hope people take away from your stand-up?
I hope that they laugh. The performers who I admire always give me that ‘aha!’ moment, when they make an observation, or point something out that I feel like I already knew. Nobody had said it out loud but I already knew that dogs were communist. Something like that.
Have you felt support from established female comedians?
Absolutely. I’ve met some really amazing, generous women here in New York. It’s still competitive in a supportive way, which I think is great. I think the best thing we can do is to challenge each other to excel.
Do you feel a divide between men and women in comedy?
Sure. I mean, I don’t think there is some malignant agenda to keep the women folk barefoot and humorless. But I do think that there is an idea of what a comedian should be, and it’s not necessarily a woman. And it’s not necessarily a woman who isn’t doing female specific comedy. Like their best five minutes about menstruation and not being married (although both those things are hilarious). I guess it comes down to numbers, women are still somewhat of a novelty, but I think that is changing.
Would you feel comfortable sharing an example of an undesirable experience with a male comic if you have one?
One of my first open mics I ever did the guy who went up after me spent his entire set talking about the size of my ass. And then came up to me afterward to let me know that he has a girlfriend so don’t get the wrong idea. It’s a shame, because I had already named our children in my mind. That’s less an undesirable experience and more my one chance at martial bliss being ripped away from me. I’m not bitter or anything, just wistful.
What do you hope to see in the future from women in comedy?
I would like there to be so many women doing comedy that we don’t get labeled female improviser, female stand up, female storyteller, female whatever. I mentioned this before but I think supportive competition is really important as well. We should challenge each other to be great but not in a dickish way, regardless of gender.
Who are you inspired by both in our community and on a larger scale?
Yargh! So many people! I am in awe of so many women that I see performing. Rebecca Drysdale and Christina Gausas are two of my favorite improvisers. Margot Leitman, Jessi Klein and Katina Corrao for standup and storytelling. Kristen Schaal. Glennis McMurray. Basically everyone you have listed on this blog.
Who would you like to see featured on the blog next?
Everyone listed above. Also, I think you should interview yourself! Really get into what it was like as a young girl in a small mountain town in Colorado. New Yorkers eat that shit up. [Look for my show “Disco Balls” coming soon! -Ed]
Anything else you’d like to add?
Just thank you for including me! I am honored to be in such great company!
Now watch the fierce DARCY BURKE break down her obsession with mountain lions. Rawrr.
Do you want to be featured on The Green Room? Want to nominate someone? Send an email with a clip to your work to contactgloc[at]gmail.com.