Joy completed my Level One Stand Up Class in April. She was always very good about really tightening and honing her act from week to week. Following the class she won a stand up comedy contest (hence the photo above). I wanted to discuss with Joy how being an author helped with doing stand up and what it was like performing standup for the first time.
TOM CLARK: Prior to taking my class you were mainly a writer, what made you decide to make the foray into stand up and performing in front of people?
JOY: A lot of it had to do with my other job, massage therapy. Some of my patients can't relax in the quiet (most of them are in serious pain) so I would distract them by telling them stories to make them laugh. By the end of the week I had a whole one hour routine and I would always think I should do stand up. As a birthday present to me about three years ago I did an open mic wanting to see if I could really do it. I loved it, and knew that was something I wanted to pursue. After that life got in the way. I published two books and did the mom/work thing but comedy was always there in the back of my mind and in the massage room. Then one day I was discussing comedy while doing a massage on a friend and he mentioned your class. He thought I should be pursing comedy and your class would be perfect to get me back into doing stand up in front of people instead of one naked person face down.
TC: A lot of times newer students will try to rewrite their entire act each class, but you were good at making improvements on what you had week to week. Do you think that comes from being an author and having to constantly edit your work?
JOY: I do think that had a great deal to do with it. I am a perfectionist, so I am constantly rewriting, editing, or deleting. In fact it took me two years to let anyone read my finished book. I wanted it to be perfect. Both comedy and writing are something I love to do, so in my mind I want it to be the best it can be so people will take me seriously. I have tons of jokes and book plots in notebooks just waiting for me to flesh them out. It's hard sometimes not pulling out new things and keeping with what you have done already, but that's the process and I respect it. I feel that if you put in the work it will eventually be recognized.
On the other hand, I'm really excited about the second class. I can't wait to practice crowd work. Getting out of my head and just saying things without pouring over them seems like it would be freeing.
TC: What was it like doing your first live performance at The Improv? Anything you would do differently?
JOY: It was amazing. Being up on stage with real actual people in front of me was something I will never forget. Getting that first genuine laugh switched the nerves off and all I wanted to do it get more laughs.
The only thing I would do differently (and this is a total girl thing) is keep my hair up. I never ever never have my hair down. I've been a massage therapist for nine years. I don't want my hair anywhere near what I'm rubbing so it is always up. I had someone tell me to leave it down right before I got in my car to drive to the Improv. She said it looked pretty down and my girl senses took over. The only criticism I've received over and over on my Improv performance was that I played with my hair too much. Damn girl senses.
TC: You recently won a comedy contest...congrats! How'd you find out about it and what did you learn from doing it?
JOY: Thank you. That's a story in itself.
It was actually from another student in the class, Jonathan David. I reached out to him and he told me about an open mic over at JJ's Grill in Santa Clarita. After the open mic Jonathan introduced me to another comedian that ran a comedy competition at Vincenzo's in Newhall. I went and watched that week to show my support and was able to get on the line-up the next week.
TC: Any advice for people contemplating doing stand up?
JOY: Do it!!!! One thing I have learned from my years as a massage therapist and as an author is we all have stories. Every author has pulled something from their life and wove it into their books even if it's fiction. When I massage people, they have some of the greatest stories and it is actually my favorite part of my job (that's a lie. When I get to rub a hot guy that's my favorite part. Shhh) If comedy is something in the back of your mind that nags you. GO FOR IT. Just remember like anything it is something that you'll have to practice at to get better but there are plenty of places to go to hone your skill. And the support of other comedian's will show you is awesome.
Joy Eileen is the mother of three boys, a massage therapist, and an author. She has two books published at the moment, and is working on her third.
FOR MORE INFO ON JOY AND HER BOOKS GO HERE: