HKL Blog

Comic of the Month – Katie Compa


Where are you from and what is it like there?
I’m originally from Maryland, right outside Washington, DC. It was a great place to grow up. Diverse, easy to get around, good schools, the Smithsonian, cherry blossoms, etc. As cities go, it’s not bad. I never really lived there as an adult because I left right after college, and it seems to keep getting better.

How has your comedy career met or not met the expectations you had as you began this career?
I didn’t really have expectations when I started. I don’t think it occurred to me that I would still be doing it now. I figured I’d try it, suck at it, feel horribly ashamed and eventually quit to go back to my office job. I did (still do) the first three, but I don’t know how I would even go about quitting, although every once in a while I give it some serious thought!

Who are your 3 favorite living comedians?
Chris Rock, Elayne Boosler and Bill Cosby

Who are your 3 favorite dead comedians?
George Carlin, Richard Pryor and Gilda Radner

How would you describe your material?
This is going to sound like a thesis, but: most of my material is about the inequalities that I see in our society (mostly America, but I’ve done standup in Europe and it hits there, too). I think the strongest point of my feminist material is that everyone’s in on the joke, and if you aren’t in on the joke, why would you want to change anything? Fighting for equality for one group of people (for example, women) is useless if you don’t realize that the fight is bigger than that—it’s about equality for everyone. In general, I try to get people to take a good honest look at their part in moving society forward, not just tending their own lawns. (This is why I love Carlin and Chris Rock.) And I have good stories (this is why I love Bill Cosby), but it’s hard to work on stories in New York because sets tend to be really short, so it’s tough to open it up and find the good parts of the story.

This got a little more serious than I intended. I think my material is funnier than this sounds. For the record, I also enjoy a well-crafted poop joke.

How do you balance pursuing comedy as a career with starting and maintaining personal relationships?
[extended sound bite of me laughing hysterically]
I don’t.
How do you feel about the institution of marriage?
I think marriage is whatever you make it. I’m fine with it as a concept, and depending on where you are, it affords legal protections that I would value if I ever do go for it. But I have seen enough people lose their minds and spend their savings on a party that it gives me pause. And if I ever do it: Pre. Nup. You heard it here first.

Where would you like to see your comedy career in 5 years?
I’d like to still be doing standup and more—writing for a TV show, or screenplays, or magazines or… obviously I’ve given this a ton of thought. Basically, I’d like to be making a living at comedy and well respected in the community.

What inspires you?
Usually, I say the things that inspire me most are the things that make me angry, but that’s mostly when I’m writing. Seeing friends (and other comics I really like) advance is always exciting. It gives me hope that staying in this business isn’t totally bleak. And seeing any kind of art that has an impact on the world, even if it’s just looking at it in a museum, reminds me why I do this at all.

What frustrates you most about the world of comedy?
Wow, there’s so much to choose from. People who clearly don’t even like comedy and just want to find success in the entertainment industry (good luck)? The fact that to get anywhere in a competitive market like this, you have to produce as well as create? The fact that we all pretty much work for free? I guess the biggest thing is that it typically takes so long to get anywhere so it’s easy to feel like it’s all pointless, so recognizing milestones, even small ones, is really important.