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Spotlight on Comedienne and Comedy Writer Jodi Miller

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photo1Jodi Miller is a Los Angeles based stand-up comedienne and comedy writer. She has been on CNN’s Showbiz Tonight and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Other credits include being the host of Newsbusted, a weekly online comedy news show and a writer on the Cinemax series Co-Ed Confidential. Also seen on Playboy’s Foursome Walk Of Shame and GSN’s Mind Of A Man. Jodi is also the co-author of the WTF Series (WTF College, WTF Work & WTF Women, WTF America and OMG: GUYS) in stores and online now. If that’s not enough, Jodi was just named one of the “Five Comics to Watch Out for in 2014” by OC Weekly.

I had a coaching session with Jodi after my first stand-up show in 2012 and it was not only fun, but also eye-opening. I went through all of my material with her and she helped me clean some stuff up and even came up with some new ideas for me. And bonus, anything she wrote during that 60-minute session—I got to keep for my very own! Score! Now that I’m nearing the end of a four month stand-up comedy hiatus, I reconnected with Jodi for some inspiration and advice that I thought all of us could benefit from.

If your best friend wanted to get into stand-up comedy, what are the first three tips that would come to mind?

1. Talk about what you know. Things that are happening in your life or have happened, that way you can emotionally connect to it. Those tend to be the jokes that really work.

2. Don’t try to be something you’re not. The audience is very intuitive and they can sense when someone is not authentically being themselves.

3. Write out your set. Know what you’re going to say when you get up there. So many people think they can just wing it when they get on stage and that can be disastrous for everyone. Write out your set, rehearse it then just get up there and do it.

Extra tip: Have fun. I know stand up can be incredibly scary but you need to have fun up there or else it will be torture.

When I first met you, you warned me that open mics can be “soul sucking”. Will you explain that for our readers?

For someone who is just starting out many open mics, NOT all, can be really harmful to your ego. You are usually performing your jokes in front of other comics who are just waiting their turn to get up, so it’s really hard to gage if your material is working.  So many times I have seen comics cut good jokes they tried at an open mic because they thought they weren’t funny. Having said that there are some good open mics and of course any time you get on stage can be helpful.

You’ve been doing stand-up for over fourteen years. If you could go back to the beginning, is there anything you would do differently?

Probably not wear shoulder pads.

I think I would have worked harder at finding my voice…I wish someone had told me that from the start, then again I was in my early 20s so my voice was usually drunk most of the time anyway.

You’re a full time writer, actress and comedienne. You also teach. When do you find time to write? What does a day in the life of Jodi Miller look like?

photo2I wake up and spend most of the day trying to please my cat. 

The great thing about working as a comic/writer is that your schedule is usually flexible.  Shows are at night so I can write, coach and go on auditions during the day.  Some days are crazy busy and some days I sit on my couch binge watching House Of Cards.

What challenges, if any, do female stand-ups face in this business that their male peers do not?

I think the biggest challenge a female comic has to face is the stereotype that female comics aren’t funny…truth is there are just fewer females comics compared to male comics out there. So if you have a show of 6 comics, 2 female/4 male and 1 of the females isn’t that funny and 1 is and 3 out of the 4 male comics are funny you will just assume that girls aren’t as funny as guys. How was that math problem? Other than that I do think both male and female comics face many of the same challenges especially when they are first starting out, like getting stage time, writing material etc.

If your best friend has been doing stand-up for three years and now wants to give up – what would you tell her/him?

I would ask her/him why? If they say because it’s no longer fun then I would say “okay then maybe take some time off”.  If they say it’s because they think their material isn’t working anymore, I would of course encourage them to write new material and of course if they really were my BFF I would offer to help. Sometimes all it takes is a fresh pair of ears to help a comic with their material.

Unfortunately for us LA peeps, The Tonight Show is moving back to New York. But do you have any advice for how to get booked as a stand-up or a sketch/improv actor on a late night show?

Keep working your craft. It really doesn’t matter where the late night shows are… if you’re ready to get on these shows they will find you.  When you think you are ready you should tape a 5 minute CLEAN TV ready set and have your representation submit you to the booker. It might take a couple of months or even years to get on that show, but the good news is that you will only get better during that time.

You teach a 4 week stand-up comedy class and also offer one on one coaching. Can you tell us a little bit about your class?

I really work on finding each person’s “voice” whether it’s one on one coaching or the full class. If you take the class, you get 4 classes, 3 private sessions and then a show. During the class I usually have them get on stage and talk about their lives or do some observational comedy. Then when we meet in private we work on writing jokes together. I also cover a lot of the business side of stand up in the class. How to get booked, running your own show, etc.

What’s the one question you have always wanted to be asked but nobody has ever asked you?

Will you marry me?

Jodi can be seen charming the crowd in The “C” Word Show every Thursday night in The Belly Room at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles at 8pm. See her official website for a full bio and calendar: jodimillercomedy.com.

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About Marilyn Anne Michaels

Actress/Waitress/Writer/Comedienne - Marilyn Anne Michaels is a member of SAG-AFTRA and the WGA. She trained at the Second City Chicago Conservatory Training Center and did tons of theatre before moving to Los Angeles in 2006. Marilyn co-created and starred in the award winning web series The Best Friend. Marilyn does not like writing bios.