GIGGLE CITY: Felicia Michaels battles back from mom-onymity
Besides sexual bias, there is another reason you don’t see as many female comics as male ones: Female comics tend to have babies, from time to time, which is not conductive to being on the road performing nasty jokes for drunks.
Performing July 6-10 at the Comic Strip, Felicia Michaels says she has had two comedy careers – once before she had kids and then again once her kids were old enough to understand that they’d be in big trouble if they ever told their friends what mommy does for a living.
(Adult content below.)
Q: If you could be any celebrity, who would it be and why?
A: Probably Khloe Kardashian. She has a lot of money and she’s big. She looks like she could whoop on people. And she’s funny.
Q: Best heckler story?
A: I just recently told this story in a documentary called I Am Comic. It was actually in Canada, in Fort McMurray. This was many years ago, I don’t know if this is changed, but it’s a mining town, right?
A: So it was mostly men in the crowd, most worked doing this, most were young, the drinks were flowing and they were having a very good time. And this one guy yells out, ‘Yeah, I’d sure like to fuck you in the ass!’ It was one of those Sergio Leone moments in the cowboy movie where everyone gets real quiet. And I was like, ‘Wow, you guys have been up here too long if that’s the only hole you wanna fuck me in.’ So I was able to throw that out and everyone laughed and it was totally fine. The guy bought me a drink afterwards.
Q: Do you have a favourite joke you don’t do anymore because it’s stale?
A: After I took a break to have kids, I found that comedy slightly shifted. It used to be more about sarcasm and now it’s more about irony, so I don’t know if my old jokes work anymore. Also, the older material was written with a certain point of view in mind, and as you grow, not only in age but in experience, sometimes you can’t make the old jokes work because you’re not telling the truth about it anymore. There has to be that seed of truth that makes it funny.
Q: Do subscribe to the Bill Hicks school of comedy – hated people, loved humanity – or George Carlin’s: Hated humanity, loved people? In short, do you have to be a pessimist to be an effective comic?
A: I’m an optimist. It doesn’t work for me when people are so pessimistic with their comedy that it doesn’t leave a sense of hope. I feel Bill Hicks could really ride an idea to the ground in such a mean way, but still there was hope to his overall message. Carlin was the same way. I think all great comedians can do that. I would love to strive for that – shining a light on everything ridiculous and stupid, but to do it in a way that gives people hope. When you left the club after seeing someone like Bill Hicks, you’re like, wow, I feel pretty good. If you ever saw Kinison live, to me, maybe he didn’t do that as much. When you left the show after watching Sam, it was really funny, but you were like, God, I feel kind of tainted.
Q: What do you do when an audience members comes up to you after a show, tells you a joke and says, ‘you can use this in your act’?
A: I’m usually very polite. These people paid money to come see me. If they keep going, sometimes, I’ll pretend I don’t get it, I guess. I wouldn’t care for a racist joke so much – but a sexist joke? It is what it is. If you’re up there talking about the nastiest things you can think of, audience members are going to try to out-nasty you.
Q: Here’s an obvious question just for you: How does having children affect your comedy?
A: As a woman or a new parent, you don’t want ugliness around you because you have this kid and you want it be nice. But then the kid starts going to school and becomes a rugrat and is a normal kid and you’re like, fuck it, I can go back to being the nasty me. I took time off because comedy felt kind of ugly for a while. My act’s pretty filthy and negative. I try to give it a positive morality, but I wanted there to be more grace in my life with my kids – and there is no grace in comedy. It took me about seven or eight years to get back to where I was.
Q: Have your kids seen your act?
A: Not yet. When they were old enough, I sat them down and explained to them that if I were a dad doing this, people wouldn’t give it a second thought. If I wrote a movie script that had terrible R-rated crazy stuff, people wouldn’t give it a second thought. If I was an actress in a movie that was R-rated and I showed my boobs, people wouldn’t give it a second thought. But because I’m a comedian, people assume that the whole thing is indicative of who I am as a person. A lot of it is, but not all of it.