It all started during a self-destructive spiral of depression after I found out my boyfriend of three years was cheating on me. I was 21 and thought I had everything figured out. I had moved across the world (London) for him, and I had a very specific life I envisioned that had just fallen apart in the form of a Facebook message chain I found by Sherlock-ing the hell out of his account.
I turned to excessive drinking and partying to numb the feelings I was too frightened to face. I was too wrapped up in my own pity party that I didn’t realize my two protective and very supportive brothers had noticed. One of them decided enough was enough, and signed me up for my very first improv class to give me an outlet to express myself while also making friends.
I initially thought to myself. But as the alarm rang on that polar vortex Sunday morning I got up and got my hungover ass over to class. And I loved it. I loved every minute of my silly, goofy first-level improv class. I felt that way about all of my classes, until the final level.
We’ll come back to that…
Meanwhile, I got my shit together and graduated college (yasss queen) all the while locking down a full-time job at a small tech company. I was starting to feel better, but as I got more confident, I got more social. That’s when the comments started during my improv class. There was an older man who would make comments during scenes that were mildly uncomfortable, or take the time to remind me that I should ‘date older men’ during drinks after class. There was one particular scene where we were on a date and it was just comment after comment. I was so visibly uncomfortable and just praying to hear, “Scene!” Then my instructor said, “Accept his compliments. This is the reality of the scene!” I decided this was no reality that I wanted to be a part of, and I peaced.
I was frustrated. Comedy had been my outlet for frustration, so it was frustrating to be frustrated with my frustration outlet. That’s when I saw a fundraiser for Under the Gun Theater, a new comedy club in Wrigley. And look at that! They were offering improv classes for like half the price of other comedy clubs. I was sold. I signed up.
It was a new space. The bar wasn’t built, and the people in my class were all a little awkward because we all came from different comedy backgrounds.
I went to my first Under The Gun show that weekend, and was impressed that the majority of players on the stage were women. Turns out, the ensemble was split exactly in half with an equal number of men and women. I was not, however, impressed that there was nobody designated to work the box office that night.
“Hey, uh, do you guys need help on the weekends with the box office?”
As I started volunteering at the box office, I was reaching just over six months at my full-time job. I was happy, and it showed. But as it happened with my improv class, it started happening at my full-time job.
It started with dick pics. We’d be at an event for clients when my (now former) boss would approach me and whip out a dick pic. Like what! Sir! No! Completely unsolicited, but what was I to do? We were with clients, how could I react? It’s the audacity he had that caught me off guard.
At first, I tried to laugh it off. I mean, I had a full-time, salary job right after graduating. I should be so lucky, right? And it wasn’t just me he showed them to, he showed them to other female coworkers too. They seemed unphased, or if anything, amused. So I was probably just overreacting.
Then, the texts started. He would text me during after hours. One such incident occurred after a client event (which I was starting to absolutely DREAD going to), where he asked for my address because he was coming over. When I didn’t respond, he asked me about it at work the next day. I didn’t know what I should do. I felt naive, I felt dramatic, and I started to feel worthless. I’d show up to work 20 minutes late every day. Dress pants turned to sweat pants while button ups turned to hoodies.
I started spending more time at Under the Gun. There, I felt the complete opposite of how I felt at work. I could wear my cute*, 22-year-old clothes and laugh and smile knowing that nobody would “take it the wrong way” or take advantage of me in a public place the way he did with those pictures. And should anyone make me uncomfortable, there were at least 7 to 10 ensemble members who would put them in their place because Under the Gun is where people say “I have your back” and actually mean it.
*cute is subjective.
It’s because of the love and respect I felt and saw at Under the Gun that made me realize I should never let anyone make me feel less than I am just because they’re signing my paycheck. I finally got the courage to talk to my manager.
“That’s his humor, if you don’t like it then don’t work here.”- my former manager
I was like, for real? You’re going to tell me what humor is? I WORK at a comedy club, you dingus.
So began my job hunt. Three months and several ‘client events’ later, I found my current job at a fantastic company. Unfortunately, the transition was overwhelming so I had to make the tough decision and bid farewell to Under the Gun after 10 months of working there.
I cried and cried my last night at Under The Gun.
“Don’t be a stranger”
After several months, I finally felt settled in with my life. Minus not being involved in comedy, I felt like I was in a good place! Things were looking up. That was until…
“Someone has been roofie-ing comedians at open mics”
What in the actual fuck? I couldn’t believe it. Really? Roofies at open mics? I feel like I know a lot of comedians from Under The Gun and standup mics, but, if I don’t know you, I associate you with the comedians I do know and therefore consider you a friend. How could I get involved? How can I help? I am so sorry to anyone who was affected by the selfishness of this loser, low life.
That’s when I heard about a networking event for a group called Women in Comedy. WIC aims to empower, connect and advocate for women in comedy. After my experiences, I was excited to help and do what I can to give back to a community that had given me my confidence and voice back. So when someone asked…
“Any idea where we could host an all-male panel discussion?”
So, without further ado (did you really think you’d get through this post without me pitching something?)
Join Women in Comedy and Under the Gun Theater this Sunday for our all-male panel discussion to open up the dialog with male comedians in the community!
- Kevin Mullaney: Co-Founder Under The Gun Theater
- Padraic Connelly: ComedySportz Theater
- Scott Dikkers: Founder The Onion, Head of Second City Writing With The Onion Program
- Matt Fox: Ensemble Member Under The Gun Theater, Creator of Improvised Mythology
- Antoine McKay: Fox Network’s Empire
- Patrick Rowland: 3Peat, Creator Barack All Night
- Prateek Srivastava: Co-Producer of SimmerBrown Comedy and Snack Attack Comedy
- Seth Wanta: Creative Marketing Manager at Catharsis Productions, Director of Marketing for the iO Comedy Network.
Moderated by Victoria Elena Nones, Executive Director, Women In Comedy
Doors open at 3:15pm.