Friday, June 27, 2014

Interview: Amy Miller on Comedy, Dads and Dogs in Vests

Posted By on Fri, Jun 27, 2014 at 12:30 PM

I feel sorry for the fool that doesn't catch an Amy Miller performance this weekend. Miller was voted Portland’s Funniest Comedian by the Willamette Week in 2013. She hosts a hilarious podcast titled Sorry About Your Dad. She has performed in comedy festivals all over the country. Miller is hosting four shows this weekend at Laffs Comedy Café, 2900 E. Broadway.

Here’s a brief interview with Miller. She was very candid about her writing process, why she moved to Portland and all the dads.

Henry Barajas: What are you doing in Tucson?

Amy Miller: I'm opening for Lisa Landry at Laff's. I have a friend in Portland who's worked at the club, and in a rash of writing booking emails to various comedy clubs, Laff's said yes.

Coincidentally, my newly discovered uncle (brother of biological dad / dead dad #2) lives in Tucson, so I'm killing two birds I suppose. I just hope I'll have time to get down to Bisbee or at least eat one of those hot dogs you guys like so much. If anyone wants to take me swimming, I'm down.

Henry: You have been holding out in Portland for a year now. Did you do it for your comedy career, and if so, how is that working out?

Amy: Yes, I mostly moved for comedy, although I also landed a pretty rad day job. (Brag). Portland is a small but growing scene, we have an awesome festival (Bridgetown), a great young comedy club, and supportive audiences. I saw a lot of opportunity for myself that it would have taken years to build in New York or LA. There's so much stage time, it's impossible not to grow.

Also: cheap apartments + dogs in vests.

Henry: How did you come up with your podcast, Sorry About Your Dad?

Amy: Part of the reason I started stand-up was I had a bunch of stressful life stuff happen all at once, including finding out that the father I thought I'd always had, who died when I was 9, was not in fact my dad. The new guy was dead too. And even as someone who had lived without any dad at all for 21 years without giving it much thought, I was surprised by how much this puts my identity into a tailspin.

And as I watched other comics, and listened to their podcasts, especially Marc Maron's WTF, I started to notice how often we all talk about our dads.

No matter what the topic, somehow in talking about our identities, even in jokes, it always comes back to our dads. Dads dads dads. So I figured, why beat around the bush when I can just get right to the dad stuff and work backwards. It's kind of a crazy thing, because in our society moms do most of the heavy lifting in raising us, and yet most of our emotional development, motivation, relationships with other people, and so much of the deep dark emptiness comes from our dads. I've learned a lot about myself and hopefully my interview subjects have too.

My mom is in the next episode! It's gonna be crazy!

Henry: How frequently are you writing new material? Where do you find yourself writing the most?

Amy: I try to write something new at least every couple of days, ideally more. But often I try something once and then abandon it, then re-visit an existing joke and add new elements. Sometimes this fine-tuning is more important than writing new material, for me. I'm usually in the shower with a glass of wine. My shower is very dark, and has a painful stream like what I imagine a prison shower to feel like. For whatever reason, I can focus in there. I have to cover my nipples, sure, but I'm focused.

Also, I have no idea what I'm doing, really. But this is what's working for me. My big goal for 2014 is to write material that isn't about my family or what dudes are doing wrong. It's not going that well so far.

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