This month On Tap interviews Washington, DC’s very own Erin Jackson. On October 7, Erin will be headlining the DC Improv, where she got her start in comedy years ago as an MC and opener. Funny how time flies.
On Tap: Do you think it’s easier to start your comedy career here in DC as opposed to a bigger city like New York?
Erin Jackson: New York City is a more dog-eat-dog world. You don’t want to go there right away. I think DC was great for me in terms of not being put in a huge comedy market too early. But growing up in the DC Improv, all the big name comics do come through and it’s a great way to build relationships before you leave for a bigger city. I met everyone.
OT: How did you move from taking comedy classes at the DC Improv to headlining your own show?
EJ: People started to recognize me and put me on more shows but I really think the Improv helped me a lot in terms of pushing me for the next level before I even thought I was ready. I was able to be seen, procure a manager, audition for Last Comic Standing on Comedy Central, then do The Ellen DeGeneres Show because I was able to say, “I have a resume, check me out.”
OT: You were recently in TV Guide’s series featuring women in stand-up called Stand-up in Stilettos. I went to TV Guide’s website to check it out and saw the following text: “Females are funny! The Office’s Kate Flannery will prove it”. Why do we still have to “prove” this?
EJ: I honestly wish we didn’t and I don’t think that we do, I just think that especially in the past year or two with several of the big stories and controversy and people making comments – Adam Carrola, that sort of thing – it’s easy to use it as a quick marketing ploy: “Hey Adam Carrola says chicks aren’t funny”, you know, that sort of thing. It’s really ridiculous.
OT: Yeah, but that sort of thing can still seep into your consciousness…
EJ: Even women! It really bothers me more when I get it from women, like: “Oh my God, I don’t usually like female comics but I thought you were funny.” It’s like, ‘but you’re a woman, what are you talking about?’
OT: Yeah, and there are so many funny women out there now. You’ve gotten to work with some real talent on the Pumps and Punchlines theatre tour – women like Amy Schumer (who’s now been on at least two Comedy Central roasts). What’s that been like?
EJ: The greatest thing about the tour is we’re packing theatres. But unfortunately, unless it’s a female-themed show like what we’re doing or there’s a big female headliner nobody ever puts a group of females on one show. So in addition to it being a great tour it’s a rare opportunity to work with other great female comics. Erin Foley is one of my best friends and Rachel Feinstein, she’s just amazing. We get along together, we have so much fun together. It’s a shame though that it has to be Pumps and Punchlines for us to work together, that it can’t just be like another tour, like with men.
OT: How would you describe your comedy?
EJ: My jokes are very personal, about my family and my friends. If I had to describe things in one word it would be, “Really!?”. I think that’s my whole take on everything. Did you really just do that? Did that really happen?
OT: Anything else you want readers to know?
EJ: Being on stage and telling jokes is the payoff. But that’s not the job. That’s the vacation. Comedy is a lot tougher than people realize. The job is coming up with the material in crappy bars, driving 18 hours to perform for one hour, calling and emailing people to even get them to let you go to their club and perform. I love it, but I’m working hard for those hours on a stage.