Yes But Why ep 213 Meghan R. Ross is the comedy version of a mullet!
This week on Yes But Why, we chat with comedy writer and producer, Meghan R. Ross.
photo credit: An Indoor Lady
Meghan R. Ross is a writer, producer, director, and comedian from New York, now living in Austin, Texas. Since 2015, she has been hosting, writing, and producing That Time of the Month, an award-winning late night show featuring an all-women and non-binary comedy lineup. Meghan’s comedy writing has also appeared in Broadly, Reductress, Medium’s Slackjaw, and one time she wrote tweets for Mel Brooks.
photo credit: Tess Cagle
In our conversation, Meghan and I talk about networking and getting connected to the performers and producers you want to work with. Meghan’s experience running her show, That Time of the Month in both NYC and Austin really fascinated me and I picked her brain about it.
Meghan started out in marketing before her first comedy writing internship, doing television recaps at Bravo’s Television Without Pity. But Meghan always had an eye on a career in entertainment. Meghan shares stories about her experiences at UCB and her decision to move to Austin, Texas.
photo credit: Tess Cagle
Support Meghan R. Ross by checking out her newest project, a quirky online interview show called “No One Asked For This,” that you can find on her Instagram, @meghanrross
Yes But Why Podcast is a proud member of the HC Universal Network family of podcasts. Download the FREE HC Universal Network app for Android and iDevices or visit us at HCUniversalNetwork.com and join the fun.
(production notes: recorded phone call with Rodecaster at the home studio on 5/13/2020)
TRANSCRIPT by Otter.ai
Hello, Yes But Why listeners, this is your host, Amy Jordan. Welcome to episode 213 with comedy writer and producer, Meghan R. Ross. But first, a bit about our sponsor. This episode of Yes But Why podcast is sponsored by audible. You can get your FREE audiobook download and your 30 day free trial at audible trial dot com forward slash YES BUT WHY. We didn’t talk about it on the podcast but Meghan’s bio says she wrote tweets one time for Mel Brooks so let’s see what comes up when you put Mel Brooks in the search bar on Audible. OK. Looks like some awesome biographies and interviews. Good stuff. Audible is available for your iPhone, Android, or Kindle. Download your free audiobook today at audible trial dot com forward slash YES BUT WHY.
In this week’s Yes But Why episode, I had a great time talking to Meghan R. Ross. A kindred spirit in many ways, Meghan and I both started our comedy careers in New York City. We talk networking, marketing and sketch comedy. Meghan was really fun to talk to and it was cool to hear how she hosts, writes and produces her talk show, That Time of the Month. I now present to you: Yes But Why episode 213 – Meghan R. Ross is the comedy version of a mullet! And I swear she says it in the episode, not me!
I’m Amy Jordan. And this is Yes But Why podcast. Yeah.
After I had come back from studying abroad, I went, I studied abroad in London and I got to intern I had a cool internship there, at Universal Pictures, but it was in marketing. And it was fun. But I also was like I, my supervisor was, didn’t really know what to do with me. So I had to, like, seek out work from other supervisors. That was my first foray into like entertainment industry stuff, but it was still marketing.
Like Universal Studios Universal
Yeah, like you like yeah,
but like the UK version? or whatever.
Yeah, it was basically their international office. So they handled distribution of like all the films across like outside the US outside North America, I guess. And so Yeah, I was fun and cool but then, like, you know, I was a freakin comedy nerd I watched like, the Thursday night comedy lineup like community office Parks and Rec. Like other things I can name drop that won’t make my experience unique to anyone else like all those like things. Like every you know, every person who wanted to like take classes at UCB was watching at that age and time so I wanted to work for NBC so badly so this internship was my like first step and then I I applied I like men in a woman’s at like, This is so funny is like a Harvard woman in business networking event. I did not go to Harvard. I went to Boston University. I don’t know why I was there. But But I basically was like trying to network with like anyone from NBC. In that her there, she was like a recruiter and like stayed in touch. When I came home. I was Like, Oh, I’d love to intern like, here’s my background and I went on a couple interviews with Bravo and this is like right at the peak of Bravo starting like real housewives and like, right, in like, this is like 2010 I think 2000 a lot. No 2010 Um, yes. And so, it would have been, I was like, yeah, this would be so cool. But maybe a little corny, but like, I want this even though I probably wouldn’t fit in with the woman here. And I didn’t get it and I was heartbroken. And I always thought it was because I forgot to send a thank you email. But then I got pulled in, like last minute, a couple of weeks before like the summer internship started off with another internship in the Bravo offices but with television without pity. And I don’t know if you listeners will remember television without pity but they had a cult following They basically formed I’m gonna get the origin story wrong. I haven’t, like, remembered this in a while, but there it was, it was formed by I believe two women, and it grew from there but basically they would recap shows like I think one of the first shows they’d recap was like Dawson’s Creek and like just old shows that people love to hate watch a little bit and love watch but they were they just grew a cult following from being like known for these snarky TV recaps and in the in the evolution of TV without pity Bravo bought them out. So they were like in the NBC building and so it’s funny because I was I was kind of at like, the tail end of the TV without pity legacy like I I wasn’t in there with like the beginnings like how like, a bunch of TV nerds would remember them fondly. I was in what they probably called like the sellout phase. Have tea without pity but it was still, it was still cool. But um, so so I I got lucky I got I got lucky too because, well one I knew that I was in the right place when I was allowed to call. Fuck what True Blood True Blood was really big during that 2010 period. And we were talking about it and I’m like, yeah, it just seems like vampire porn to me. And like my would be supervisor being very cool with me saying vampire porn in an interview made me realize like, oh, like these people get me in my humor and they won’t like be but like judgmental and stuffy, like some corporate internships. So I was very lucky and I got the internship position. And I learned how to sew TV without Pity’s tagline is like, some it’s like something with snark. I can’t remember the tagline I want to type it up but I don’t want to add noise to this interview anyway. So it was basically it’s basically like, you know, writing TV recaps with like snark and that word sticks out to me but basically like I was learning how to write comedic Lee in a comedic tone even if it was covering the news one of my tasks was to search the internet search like vulture all like all of the wood, like the industry rags, or whatever, like the websites like deadline variety, all of those publications that cover TV news, and I would write Recaps of like, you know, who’s getting a cameo on the Sex in the City episode and then you know, like so actually that was not during Second City I think it was like, probably Sex in the City, the movie period but anyway, I got I got to learn about like everything goes going on in the TV world, and then try to find a way to like make it like write the news in a funny way sometimes I got to like make fun of the news or like, you know, actresses and actors and all these people who made so much money and I and then I finally got to make write reviews myself. And those were sort of like the meat and potatoes of TV without pity. Because people like follow those recaps and show reviews. And look would look to TV without pity to to tell them like if this show sucks or not, and I love that internship like that was really the first time I got to hone my comedy writing even before I took sketch writing classes. And it that even though most of my friends didn’t know what t without video was at the time, a validated me when I went to a 30 rock writers panel sometime around that period like me Is 2012 and Tina Fey someone asked her, like, if she read reviews or read like anything up on like 30 rock, you know, TV critic stuff. And she said that she used to love or read religiously TV without pity and I was like, hell yeah. Like she knows the name of the place I interned at. Um, and that was a little TV. so dumb. It’s like, she does not know my name. Um, I did ask her for me like, I’ve
I’ve been like, I did an internship at this place one time and turns out this famous person went there, like one time to see a film. It’s crazy. Like, it’s not Yeah, I’ve taken so much less. So you’re allowed to say Tina Fey said she liked reading the things that you and your co workers are writing. That’s pretty solid, you know?
Yes. Yeah, I firmly believe That Tina Fey had read my jersey shore review and she probably did not but yeah, it was
well did you write the 30 rock stuff cuz she definitely read that.
No I do not. I didn’t know I was not I was an intern so I like got this the scraps not really the scraps but I did I did get to review portlandia after bagging too, right when it came out. And conveniently they swap they swapped the episode one into so I reviewed Episode Two technically, and someone liked commented and got mad about it because they’re like, this isn’t even what aired and I like spoiled episodes do for them. Like it’s a frickin like sketch out. There’s no spoilers.
So, you mentioned a couple of times that you know what got you into these kinds of internships was marketing sounds like you were in school for marketing or at least something in marketing And Jason, because all of the internships that you’ve discussed having were in marketing, was that what you originally expected to be doing? Like that’s what you went to school for?
Yeah, so I was in I went to Boston University in the business school. But I realized halfway through that I wanted to pursue something in the entertainment industry, I thought that I would have to just be like a frickin suit for like a TV network. Like I thought that was my destiny because I was just like a nerd and a good student. And I was in the business school, even though I wasn’t happy with my major. So I just figured, like, I’m not a creative person. I’ve always been like, just a studious person. I didn’t ever think of myself as like an artist or a writer or anything like that. So I was on that path and that was my major. But at the same time, I was like trying to take He’s had these internships be in the entertainment industry and in TV and film. And so the TV without pity internship was tight. I think it was like the title was online content intern. So it was my first like non marketing role. Unfortunately, that would be like my last non marketing role for like several years because I like my next steps essentially were like, going into advertising and not really to work for what I wanted to be doing. But just because that was the only job I had at a college. I had a business major and I was trying to translate that into like, something creative and I’ve been trying to do that for like the last decade. So yeah, I was really on this path. Like I bought a G map book. I thought I would pursue my MBA and glad I did not spend the money on that because I would probably be just as broke now if not more broke.
Yeah, probably There’s people with business degrees out there that don’t still don’t know how to run businesses and lots of people ran businesses that have never even stepped foot into a business school. So I think you probably find with the information that you’ve gotten also, like the sheer fact that you were like out there getting internships and learning different things from different, you know, kinds of people. That means that you’re going to be sort of going further than a person who’s just like, what are you going to hand me? I’ll take it, right. Like you’re looking at venture you were looking for, you know, different people to inspire you. And that’s, that’s a smart sort of way to move forward. Sometimes. I mean, I know that sometimes I think I know what I’m doing. Like, I think I have, oh, this is what my next path is, or this is what I need to do. But you know, sometimes I’m like, let’s see what the world has in store for me around right. So you for those internships, that sounds like it just sort of like led you down the right path. towards the right kind of people. Though I do love the fact that you wanted to be a network person, maybe you should still be a network person. I’ve actually thought about it. I was like, how do you become a network executive? I mean, I feel like at this point, I’m in my 40s I’m probably past whatever I’d have to do to get there. But at the same time, I’m like, Yeah, I could do that. I could talk to ya and decide what goes on and like, make hard decisions about money. Sure. All right.
Well, you just have to be like tired and angry all the time. I feel like I honestly
I got it.
Yeah, like sir, like, I worked at a couple networks in on the business side, and I would see like the higher ups and they were just I was just like, how did they get there? But they seem so like, angry and tired. Like they just it’s just like they’re calling the shots and ever everything’s always like bad. Like, it’s always like bad decision making and like shows not doing well. So you know, you’re like, Oh, do I Want to be in those shoes? Um, I don’t know. I honestly I also have this like, separate dream that I want to be like, though, like the unproblematic, Lorne Michaels, like I just want to take his job and his power. Like I think he like I don’t I’m never gonna get hired by SNL. But so like, I’ll just put this out there but like, I think he’s a bad dude who’s had power for a long time and I want to like, come in and you know, not and not be SNL, but like, some sort of like, dynasty that I take over and make it be like the good version. It’s like, Oh, yeah, like, we’re not gonna have like, a shitty behavior towards women throughout like certain seasons, and it’d be awful. And I don’t know, I’m sure there’s people who thrive but I’ve just heard from some people who have worked there that it’s, and I’ve also just heard over the years like people in the comedy scene, it’s just, there are so many institutions in comedy that holds so much power And those suits at the top are usually like the ones that are ruining it for all the people who like love doing it. I think there’s there’s a lot of examples I’ll say, you know, theaters, here’s that like I got training in and stuff then we are watching them sort of collapse and yeah, there’s some good there’s some good people involved in those places but there there’s usually like you said, it’s like there’s some people who just are running businesses do don’t know how to run businesses.
Like and so to be honest,
yeah. I love the Lorne Michaels like I always wanted to be Lorne Michaels myself, but you know, you’re right that it’s it’s kind of like an institution that needs to be broken like there doesn’t need to be when he gets too old to run Saturday Night Live or when he decides to retire. It’s not that you or somebody else should take over Saturday Night Live but rather that there should be a new different You know, late night sketch show. And if and if the need for that is at all if ever. The next time someone says to you, I don’t know if that’s really what we need. I’ll be like the only television show that stayed on television during this is SNL, the only television show that maintain Ridley gave you content for you to enjoy that was brand new, was them. Everybody else went home. And they were like, the tech guys are like, I can figure out zoom for 45 people. Yeah, I got it. It’s fine. I do it every week with my d&d group, right. So they’re like, Yeah, let’s do this. And then they figured it out. Like, I’ve seen my fair share recently of terrible zoom improv or terrible Oh, bad zoom sketch shows, right? But they’re not doing bad, right. So pain is the talent is out there to create stuff and the need for sketch comedy. is out there in the world. So, you know, we just need to find a new scenario that that can take it over and you’re right, make it, make it more, you know, woke and, you know, diverse and everything like that. Get the basses out there. And the situations out there that are actually the problem. It’s like, we don’t all have the same problems as the Kardashians. We just don’t.
I would love to have their problems like too many diamonds in my living room. Like what are those problems? I don’t know.
Maybe I don’t know. I don’t know if I want their problems to be honest with
no, no, I’m fine with zero diamonds I have. So after
you were working in your internships, and then you led towards a career and advertising. How did you find your way from advertising to doing comedy and I know that, you know, you don’t have to. A lot of people have day jobs and work in one thing and then do shoes. Was that your path? Or, you know, how did it go from advertising to comedy?
It was simultaneously happening for me because I was living in Hoboken, New Jersey. So commuting into New York, I could not just like not have a full time job and like, sustain a living and try to do comedy at the same time. So I always had a nine to five throughout my comedy career. I basically like, went from, you know, corporate job to corporate job. And in my first job, I started taking sketch classes at UCB. It’s a mix of kids with trust funds, whose parents pay their apartments and they’re like, your comedy careers. People like me with nine to five and doing this at night and on weekends, and then people doing like the real hustle of most of them. actors have Taking like it’s like gig economy so it’s like they’re either working in restaurants, the service industry, retail, nannying, babysitting, dog walking like all types of like New York gigs or I guess it’s anywhere gigs. I’m balancing that with comedy in that allowed them the flexibility of auditioning during random hours during the day. I wasn’t pursuing trying to be an actor, so I knew I knew I was just like, I can do this on the weekends and at nights and make it work for however long so I it was definitely a mix but I I did feel this weird pressure. I had friends who were nannying and or you know, bartending or whatnot. And so because they weren’t waking up at the same hours as me, I felt this like guilt and pressure from them when I would not stay out all hours in the night for shows and And go into the bar after shows like where all the teachers are and it’s like the rubbing elbows and probably inappropriate behavior and all that stuff. I don’t regret not being able to do those things. But because I still did like I still, you know, I would go the Chris Gethard show just like a public access show that had a cult following to a lot of cults, a lot of cults in the comedy world, but they only only cults, and then they had like an 11pm show. Oh my god on the Upper East Side at Manhattan neighborhood network and I lived in New Jersey and I was like, staying out and then it go to the bar after it’s just like unsustainable, but you’re doing it because it’s sort of like it’s high school. It’s like you’re socializing and making connections. And, you know, I didn’t go to grad school so UCB was my grad school, much to my mother’s dismay. And she was like, call like, I remember one time she was like, What the hell is this? Like? Why don’t you call Tina Poehler up for a job. And I’m like, Yes, I will call Tina polar for a job to get on SNL. But uh, yeah, there were. I remember there was some cocky people in my class who were like, why am I not on SNL already in like, an improv? 201 and I’m like, cuz you’re not funny. Like, I don’t know, dude, you’re not funny. But um, I definitely was in the boat of like, I got to work my ass off and nothing is guaranteed. And I really like doing this in this. This is giving me joy during like a very dark, you know, I was very depressed during that time, because of how like, I’d have just one regular clinical depression and to just not being happy in my in my day jobs. So comedy was really what fueled me and gave me joy during that time that the rockin early 20s of me eating dollar pizza on street corners before comedy shows in New York. But you
Hi. It’s alright. Yeah, so I lived in New York City in my 20s. I’m older than you but, but I was in I was in New York City in the early 2000s in my 20s doing comedy in the Lower East Side, you know, it’s a for the people who are in the northeast and trying to do theater or comedy or anything. You know, New York is kind of a rite of passage, you really got to go and try it out and see what’s going on. I legitimately didn’t know anything about UCB when I was there. I think it was like sort of just starting and I was in a different crowd entirely. Who but you know, even just the idea of like paying your dues and being out and talking to the right people to get shows and that kind of stuff. There’s always a little bit of that. How many years were you were in the were you in the UCB community, and what kind of shows and, and stuff did you get involved in?
Yeah, so I started classes in 2011. Like, fall after I graduated, it was my first class. And I probably stopped. So I moved to Austin in 2016 probably stopped in 2015 I did this I did the whole sketch program and the improv program and got into the advanced study but didn’t didn’t really take too many advanced classes. It was, um, it was really competitive. I felt like there’s a lot of favoritism and it’s not like, oh, Megan, you just weren’t funny enough. I just didn’t didn’t feel like that was gonna be where I got my opportunities like they did it just it felt one it was not very diverse. Like I had a few friends who I talked to about this or like, we would joke like it was like three Middle Eastern people taking classes at UCB. There’s never like, during my time, there’s maybe one Middle Eastern person on on like a herald You know, one of the houses I just didn’t feel like there was a lot of representation. While I was there, it took a while for them to even do things like having like their first all black house team that was kind of at the tail end of me being involved at the theater so there was just like not a lot of progression happening that I was seeing during that time. Sort of like this fake woke ism you’re getting from the theater like these are mostly liberal people, but they’re not really practicing what they preach. And I so I did like I did some like DCM is the 24 hour like weekend long marathon. I did that a couple of years in a row. I was never on like a house team. I was never in like a mainstage show or anything like that. I was really in the in DC and I just like through classes and meeting people I formed teams and I did I was on a bunch of different teams that we do weekly and monthly shows and I was just kind of like trying out things and then in 2015 sort of at the end of me doing stuff at UCB, I decided to start a show with my good friend and four improv teammate Lisa Marie. And that’s how that time of the month was born which still exists today longer than anything else in my comedy career. Cuz most shows it’s like last like maybe like six months in the comedy scene, especially bar shows, but that I just kind of knew that UCB was not going to hand me opportunities and like you sort of they at times really had their favorites and I was just never wanted them. So I went and paved my own path and started my own shit basically, with my friends. And that’s, that’s where I felt like I really had ownership over my comedy voice and my stage time.
Where did you first put up that time of the month
so The name of the theater it’s always a good sign when theater name changes like three times over a span of like six months. But it started as the treehouse because it was like upstairs. It was on like 32nd and sixth, no one cares, but it was called the tree house. It was owned by the people’s Improv Theater. Then it got renamed. And a couple times I think the final name was the pit loft. And because it was literally like upstairs loft, you know, not as not as stylish as Ann Taylor loft, I would say but you know, getting getting close, but we it was it, you know, like they would put up shows they had good shows, but it didn’t feel like you were getting a lot of promotional support. like some of the other like I would say UCB you know, pushes to promote their their rotating shows and their weekend shows. Pit loft. It was even was owned by the people’s Improv Theater, it’s still felt pretty indie, which is still nice because then you felt you didn’t have. You didn’t have like artistic directors kind of hammering down on your creative decisions, you had a lot of creative freedom. And that was sort of the compromise you took not having, like, a lot of marketing and promotional support from the theater. So that’s where my merch issue for sure where it’s like, you know, if you get more help, and you get more promotional support, then all of a sudden they’re in there going like with like opinions on your show, and you’re like, what, why are you? No, no, this is my show.
Yeah. not asking how I should do it. I just wanted to see if you could print a poster or make a social media ad of me.
Yeah, right. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, it can be rough.
Sometimes I find that sort of the indie scene of anything. is kind of better. Who’s a little bit easier? I’ve always been the kind of gal who’s kind of prefers the underground myself, you know? If not everybody’s doing it. That’s kind of where I’m going to gravitate to like that. To be honest. It’s probably best I didn’t hear about UCB because I wouldn’t have gone to it anyway, because I’d be like, What? What do people like something? I hate it. Like, yeah, that’s a child of the 90s to the point where it’s like, I’m so anti like, yeah, the the grunge scene is like, deep in my soul where I’m like, What’s that? It’s cool. You mean uncool? Like that’s just I can’t Yeah. But yeah, I mean, I’ve had better experiences in the indie world, you know, like doing my own thing and creating it.
What’s so funny you say that? Because UCB started as like an act of rebellion against like, theaters and institutions and all that and they just like, like everything else. They got corporate but then in a way that still wasn’t running a business correctly. I guess that’s pretty cool. Like, businesses being run poorly is very corporate. But, um, yeah. So it like, it used to be started in, in DC. And I would say but then because it just grew and grew and established these sort of standards, and maybe bad habits of how they book and recruit and whatever, I don’t know.
It’s just like, you know, and I think people do and I say this because I’ve literally been in the, in the rooms when people are making these kinds of decisions about like, what should we do? How do we make it? How do we make it more diverse? Is that like, I feel like realistically what happens is, people have good intentions, but then they don’t want to put in any of the effort. Like actually people involved in I used to. I used to book like classes and stuff for improv classes, and I can’t tell you the number of people who would be like, so improv seems like more my speed because like, I don’t like To learn lines, and I’m like you still have me in the thing. You still have to work hard on it. You still have to rehearse, what do we have to do? It’s an improv show. And you’re like, No, no, no. It’s not about you know, rehearsing a play. But it’s about rehearsing and you have to be dedicated to it. So there’s a, there’s sort of a lackadaisical improv is a beautiful art. But there needs to be like a handful of like really intense business people that are like, I would love to run a theater likely to not make me any money. Can I yeah, that please like, and I think especially after reading all of the like, articles and like paperwork that came out about like all the UCB meetings like before they shut down in New York, but they were having like meetings about like, firing a bunch of people and restructuring because they weren’t making a lot of money. She’s, I don’t think these kids wanted or even had any idea how many 20 somethings are like, you know what? We should run our own thing. It’s going to be better. But the problem is the actual infrastructure of doing that. And then being responsible for that, you know, in the long term is not as fun. It just doesn’t. Yeah, so people just don’t do it. That’s the hard part. I’m very cynical about these kinds of things, though, is I’m like, I want to do the hard work, so they won’t, and then it won’t be there. So, you know, I don’t know.
I feel like the beauty of indie shows and the beauty of the whole independent like crowd is that that’s who’s doing the work. That’s who cares. That’s who’s gonna do who’s gonna stay up all night long to create something to make something come together. And nobody made a poster for them, but it doesn’t matter because they’re going to tell everyone that they see on the subway, you should come to my show, hey, you should come to my show. Like just all the things where it’s like, I don’t know. Like there really is something special about the people who will do it on their own versus People who go to a larger sort of organization and expect that organization to do it for them. Because usually it’s like UCB, especially in the New York scenario is run by people who like want to have the fun, but don’t want to deal with the hard work. And then when the hard work happens, they’re like, you know what, guys? We’ll just close, like in that span, and you’re like, yeah,
Is that better?
For the 500 people that are involved in your community currently?
Yeah. And who we’re trying to keep it alive, like, all of the people that, you know, there’s like so many staff members that were working hard and voicing their opinions about that problems at the theater. And it’s just the, the management like, it’s the higher ups it’s
a Yeah, they didn’t want to do it. They just kind of peace out as much as they good. And now they kind of got to the world. Yeah, let them let it go. You know what I mean? I mean, you can’t read tone when you’re reading like you Somebody a transcript of somebody having a conversation, of course what, you know, if they really wanted things to go better than six months ago, and there was trouble, you know, maybe they could have made it better. But again, yeah, I’m not the one running it. And I’ve been in the place of running it and definitely allowed things to run badly. So, you know, sometimes it’s hard to be the person in charge. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. pivoting conversationally. You’re you were having success though in New York, with your friend Lisa, making that time of the month. What led you to decide to move and did Lisa also moved to Austin? No, she
did not. So this is this is where I get really corny and say that I moved for lifestyle reasons. But basically, I was in New York. All like right after college, my family’s from New Jersey. I’ve never left the Northeast. I really wanted to experience Another city while I can, before I was really settled down, I thought I’d go to grad school at some point maybe for film, but also I was like, Oh, no don’t have money. So I, my boyfriend also was in the same boat in terms of wanting to move to another city that had been in New York for a long time. We he definitely pushed me more than I would have taken the initiative. But I, at the end of the day, I really did want to move I just didn’t know like how Austin felt like a good city, because it had a growing comedy scene and it had a balance between like, urban and a town like city and town and New York and it’s, I mean, you’ve lived there but for people who haven’t lived there, it’s like, the grind really wears you down like you know hating your job hating your commute. Not making a lot of money and all that money going to rent being broke all the time. Just do it. Yeah, it just it wears you down.
Plus snow what’s out here can be difficult but warm. That’s Yeah. Yeah.
Yeah, I want to be I want to be depressed but it’d be sunny outside like, let me have exactly I was about to like the outside is not reflective of my inside you know what I mean?
Yeah my yeah it’s funny. I’m from Boston originally so when you said you went to bu I was like I was like oh wow, you chose to go to Boston I got out as quickly as I possibly could. But
But yeah, I mean just the idea of moving away from such a cold and harsh place to go to somewhere that seems more freeing and also, I say this to lots of people and you’ll understand because you’ve had the experience but I like to say that warts and all Austin is still a magical Wonderland. I mean, it’s ridiculous how Nice It is like yeah and if it’s even though it’s there are plenty of ways don’t send me an email people about how it turns out it actually is terrible. Yeah, I gotcha. I hear you. I am. Yeah. But I’ve lived in the other worst places. Yeah, I’m here to tell you that it is way better no one’s perfect at all. Not 150 states not so much but I have enjoyed and had the experience to to not only do things that I’ve wanted to do, but to have seen things in this town artistically that I never thought were possible and I’ve been like yes this places doing it. We’re making this app and then you move to town would you do how’d you sink in? Did you and your boyfriend like pick a theater and start hanging out there? Or? Or did you like stay away from comedy at first and try to be because you seem very professional. You seem very like you got a business degree right? So like, you take care of business first, and then you have the fun which I appreciate that’ll keep you afloat in life. But like, you know what happened when you first moved to town? How did you get involved?
Yeah, so I business first I think that’s why I call myself a type a comedian. which I like because I’m like a producer, I’m a producer. So I have my producer hat on, but at the same time, I’m like, Oh, I need to also remind people I’m a creative and have them like want to book me for those things. But I moved down with my I was working for vice land vices TV channel, another company that I worked for which like rebranded or went away because now their advice land doesn’t exist. It’s like vice TV and but TV without pity doesn’t exist. Like most companies I worked for websites I wrote for like shuttered after I touched them. I’d like the opposite of King Midas touch. In every job I tailor
Doing it at all There is a shelf life to any kind of endeavor. You know? Don’t worry to take it upon yourself. You’re lovely.
It’s all me. But um, yeah, so I I had that for a little bit then I didn’t so I was on the job hunt for a month. Luckily I landed at an ad agency in terms of comedy, so I knew I was like, I can’t afford any more classes. I spent I went into credit card debt essentially, from UCB classes. They’re expensive and they’re the prices are raising so I knew that was sort of a part of the path. I’d also taken a sitcom and screenplay writing class with my friend Scott Reynolds, who’s an amazing writer and friend and like guiding light in that industry. So I felt like I had taken all the classes I needed to take and I needed to just do the thing. So it came down here to like right and also adapt that time and I’m down here at Lisa state in New York. She she’s like A real person she has a real career. She’s a music therapist. She’s like changing lives. She works out at retirement community. So she’s like a real person while I was like trying to be a protected protected person. And then I so I had Colton was one of the first theaters I knew about. Chrissy shackleford who was in my character one on one class and I was like, killing it. In UCB and all those scenes up in New York, we basically swapped like she went up to New York shortly before I came down here so like, I knew she came came from cold town. I I knew a couple names like oh, yeah, like there’s a few people Sarah sphere I got connected to. So AJ McKean. I don’t know why I’m like name dropping, I guess. Like, I don’t know why not name drop. But basically,
AJ along the way, why not? Check out the bottom right. Hey, Yeah, these days if you’re moving Austin, these are good peeps talk to him and ask him for help. Yeah,
it’s true. I didn’t so and I did have one friend who was doing stuff when it was the new movement. So that’s wrong. I didn’t know two theaters. There’s Colton in the new movement. But I but I lived closer north. So a big old town, and I message AJ, AJ was good friends with one of my friends, Patrick from who I met through the Chris Gethard show in New York. I told AJ Hey, I’ve been running the show in New York, and I did all the UCB training, I want to put it up somewhere. And then he connected me to the artistic director, coal town. Well, Cleveland. So I got lucky in the back that I didn’t have to. What most people have to do is to start in classes and meet people that way. And that’s what I did in New York. But I just was like, I cannot afford to do that again. I don’t I don’t. I didn’t have an interest in continuing with improv. I love doing improv when there’s no pressure associated with it. I was like, get starting to get depressed about it when it was so competitive in New York. Now when people ask me to do improv, which is it not super frequently, but like delightfully randomly, I, I enjoy it so much more because there’s no there’s no strings attached to it. Like, I’m not disappointing teammates, I’m just like a guest, you know, to their wonderful team. So I didn’t have to go through the whole like one on one too. And all that stuff again, I was able to just like use those connections from people that were in the UCB scene and who knew that like, okay, I had a show that had a good run in New York and wanted to adapt it here. And so they gave me a spot. It was a late late spot. Even though we’re a late night show, we were doing it at like 730 ish like normal like after work hours before people could like take the subway all the way home in New York, but here You’re in Austin. I was putting like the 1130 I think Friday night slot and then I eventually moved up to Saturday 11 at a cold town in like year two, I think.
So that was tough too late rates spots for walking in and getting the show Friday. Saturday night. I know 1130 doesn’t sound great, but I’m pretty sure I did a show for like five years before I got Friday or Saturday. So I was like, yeah, that’s me. Yeah.
Yeah, we Yeah, weekends were that for sure. It was nice. It was nice, even though that the time was the challenge. But eventually, like we found our footing and we grew an audience and even even in that 11pm slot, we gradually would start to sell out a little bit at the tail end of cold town. And then and then I’m moved to fall out last year, so I have not, I’ve not done the classes route while I’ve been in Austin, but in the time that I’ve been here I’ve liked it. I’ve been on shows I’ve like kept track of people’s names. I feel like Mitt Romney when I say this, I like binders full of women. But I have a long, like Google Doc list of performers, female identifying and now non binary identifying performers. And often because I look at myself as more of a host, and a Booker and producer now than than just like a performer. And I want to keep track of people like new names coming up and people who are like, you know, just gay, like, who should be headlining for my show that are just starting out, but might have gotten their feet wet, and they’re getting big shows getting booked on big shows. And I keep track of like, whenever I do shows, I keep track of like the woman and non binary performers who are on that lineup that I haven’t met before. I really try to do my due diligence in making sure that I’m getting a nice mix of people from all over the community. Because I felt like in New York, a lot of times you see shows where people are just putting their friends on on the stage, whether they deserve that stage time or not. And sometimes it’s great because you see that they’re like a chemistry and they gel and it’s fun. You’re watching their inside jokes. And sometimes you’re like, why can’t like give face time to other people, even if you’re not friends with them, if they deserve it, and if they’re putting in their time so I basically like moved around this the scene just booking and producing this show and some other shows along the way. That that is how I met people in the Austin Community, improv sketch music and stand up. That’s pretty great.
I really love that. I really also agree that, you know, a lot of times you know, people won’t get the recognition they deserve or get the boost that they’re looking for. And I’m of a mind that you know, we all have different life. opinions on who’s good and not. So that’s why there needs to be more people who are, you know, checking people out and watching shows and then giving opportunities to people. And like, Hey, I love teaching and I help I love helping other people move forward and do other projects. Like, I’m not trying to be famous or trying to, like, get you to say like, I mean, don’t get me wrong, you know, the first person that gets an Oscar and thanks me, I’ll be okay. But, you know, I do like the idea that, you know, different people, especially that I haven’t met, I try to watch shows I like go to other people’s sketch shows and like, see who’s like, cool and fun that I would want to work with and pull them in. And I think that that’s really important. I mean, take a chance on new people. A lot of times they’re like, Well, I haven’t seen them do too much. So I’m not gonna it’s like, take it Yeah, man. The people that are working, you know, who you see on stage all the time. They’re busy. Yeah, they’re they don’t have time to be in your show. So you know, you got to ask the like, smaller level people the like, people who are acting in like a sketch class recital, those your loves. That’s your hand for, like, that’s the crowd that’s giving of themselves for someone else. Yeah, the crowd who’s making a scene that’s probably not very funny seem very funny. Yeah. Right. So that’s the kind of crowd that you’re that you’re looking for. That’s, that’s really great. I love the I love the the revamp of binders full of women. Nice now,
yeah, I’m taking all these problematic things like Mitt Romney and Lorne Michaels and putting like a progressive spin on that. We’re good.
So now that you’re in a different sort of world, and you don’t have to have an answer to this is just sort of something I was thinking of, since you have the names and stuff or of people that you’re interested in working with and giving opportunities to are you still trying to find a new show today? produce and a new way to create stuff even though right now we’re not doing live theater as much.
Yeah. So I knew as soon as quarantine happened, my so my five year anniversary of that time of the month was literally on the weekend that quarantine was really cut like the hammer was coming down so well, we like I did my show on a Saturday. Martin was like March 15, I think and the next day fallouts like we’re closing the theater and I was like, whoo, I just made it in under the wire. Not that I was like trying to push anyone to do anything they’re uncomfortable with. But that was sort of the deciding show. I told the theater I’m like, I will do I will take your lead like if you think it’s safe to do the show. I will do the show. They ended up cutting the audience and capping at 50 for safety and to have some distance in between people. I told my crew they didn’t have to come we have a video crew each month to film the show and put it online. To make social clips so it was a cruelest show it was like, like, we did fill fill the theater based on the limit, which was nice for especially for our five year show, but I also was like, this is sort of the this is the changing point right here like I knew that was gonna probably be the last time I was on stage for a while. And I didn’t I just was trying to bring also like, this is corny, but I did want to bring a little bit of joy and Relief to People during the beginning of a tense time. And I heard that from people like people were like, I really wanted I needed to get out. Before I knew I was going to be like locked in a locked up that’s it’s not as bad as people like it’s not as bad for this. The people quarantine that kid are privileged enough to quarantine so I shouldn’t say locked up but before they knew that they weren’t going to be able to do stuff like this. So I told I was ready to do the live stream version for the next month and we did the Earth Day show. In it like conveniently was very green. I already had that lineup booked. I think I like confirmed with everyone that they were cool with that. And then I just sort of continued knowing that I’m going to just keep booking the show every month. And just ask everyone if they’re okay, doing the live stream. And the first month was really great. Both months are really great. This last month, we had some tech issues for our Mother’s Day show last weekend. So now I’m sort of trying to think about is there an easier way for us to bring the show to people that doesn’t require so many tech layers to it, and can be a little bit less stressful for me because I put in a lot of work, writing and producing and promoting the show each month even with the live stream version. So for something to go wrong due to like live stream connections and Wi Fi and, like, out of our control out of everyone’s control, it makes me a little nervous to keep doing it that way. So I’m looking to make change it up for next month I might like see if like Instagram Live make sense. We were doing it through thought there zoom and Facebook and then it goes to Facebook Live I know it goes from zoom for the performers, it goes to twitch and then Facebook Live. No one cares about these details but insider info. If you’re doing a live live stream show
figuring it out. That’s a valid information for how to how to lock it through. Who knows.
Yeah, and it’s it’s been a little weird, you know, talking to my dog basically as the audience like when I’m performing. But, uh, you know, we’re getting people watching and saying like that they look forward to it each month, which is really nice to hear. It’s super validating, because I think a lot of performers feel a little bit forgotten right now it’s really hard to stay relevant. Now everyone’s online and going live like it’s sort it’s like the the playing field is both even and even more challenging than ever because anyone can go on And do live stream. But now my show might be competing with like, the brilliance of john early and kate berlant going live at the same time like big, big name people. So it’s hard because now anyone could watch from anywhere.
That is such a deep cut comedy reference, by the way, I like your like big names like Kate Berlant and john early and I was like, me and seven other people know who they are. I love them, but
they’re big to me. Big to us!
That’s a pretty deep cut. Ah Bless them. I love them both. But again, hilarious. Oh, yeah, you’re I mean, it’s nice that you’re there to give people some joy and I’m glad that you’ve gotten some good response.
Yeah, well, so so I am still trying to figure out like what’s how do we keep doing this in a in a way because I feel like it’ll be like this for a while, especially because people are like going to the beach and get them at goddamn haircuts. So I think the longer people keep screwing up, I think the Longer Fallout we’ll have to stay close and theatres like that, unfortunately. Um, so I am trying to pivot to another project as well, that’ll be a little bit more low maintenance for me it would only be I don’t have to book like one guest each week. And we talked about this earlier. I’m not sure if that was part of the official interview, but tell me about it. Okay. Okay. So, because this will be it’ll be announced by the time this airs. So we’ll hopefully be like a week or two into our episodes, and I came up with a silly idea while I was on Instagram. I asked, I asked my few followers I said, Hey, like, what should I do a baking slash cooking show about me being like a very mediocre person in the kitchen called No one asked for this, because nearly no one would ask for that. Like I have no talent to bring or no interesting expertise in the kitchen. I just started but baking and cooking more because of quarantine and it And everyone said yes. And I’m like, Oh, that’s silly. They’re being nice. And then I when I finally did go live, baking something, I realized I was naturally like trying to fill the space of the silence of me just talking to my camera and I was talking about issues that I’m shouting about, like, how are we going to vote in the runoff elections and, and it’s so important that we vote because district maps are being decided next year in 2021. So the people who are in office are going to decide if our maps look hella gerrymandered or not. So from that, I came up with the idea to have this be an interview series because also it’s just weird when it’s just me talking to a camera. So I really wanted to have a conversation with someone. And on that time of the month we already have along with a comedy lineup, we have a strong female leader, guest so it’s an activist or entrepreneurs subject matter expert, kicking ass in their community. So I’ve had I sort of along with my Mitt Romney binders full of women of comedy, performers, I have the same version of like activists and organization and community leaders. So these are people who are like experts on you know, health care in Texas or experts on voter fraud and topics that hopefully people are interested in hearing about because it affects us directly and it will affect us in this next election. So no one asked for this will now become this weekly series where I sit down with an expert, a woman or non binary person in the community, and they’ll have a topic where that highlights the social injustice is happening in our world, or on a local or national level. And in a way that’s something no one asked for no one asked for these in justices like there’s so many so many that we can name off basically like all the headlines lately. At the same time I would be doing a mediocre task that no one asked to watch either so repotting a plant or baking or you know putting together a patio furniture and like silly stuff, not meant to distract, but just be sort of like a stress reliever for me as I talk through these maybe heavy issues with my guest. And hopefully I put a little comedic spin on it because at the end of the day, people don’t want to be more depressed. But hopefully they learned something from it. If not, they just learned like, wow, I’m not going to click on Megan’s Instagram Live accidentally next week, like,
no, I love it. This girl’s talking about something really important and Megan’s really upset about that IKEA bookcase.
The rolls those books don’t those bookshelves don’t make sense the roles of
those bookshelves, IKEA. The whole experience of IKEA furniture doesn’t make sense to me.
I think we just came across something IKEA furniture basically equals gerrymander district maps like this. If it makes sense
you’re like this thing does not turn that how does this supposed to work? What are you talking about? Yeah, these things are connected I’m telling you the conspiracy runs deep. So one final question I want to ask for you and thank you so much for chatting with me and sharing your stories. What is a piece of advice that you have for you know, women or other comedians who are trying to make it but are you know, like you trying to be doing the right thing and having a job and taking care of yourself and you know, like I said business first, how do you how do you business first but also do a you know comedy and also producing shows and also you seem to be trying to help the world and help women and help people that’s a lot of work right? But you don’t have you know, like a day job career situation. How do you know navigate those things and balance.
Yeah, I love when you say business first because now I feel like I’m the comedy version or more comedic version of a mullet. It’s like business in the front comedy in the back and like, how do I balance this haircut? Um, yeah. So I think it’s tough. I think it’s really hard to predict right now, especially with the job market, like if you’re in the position I’ve been in where you’re trying to find your next the next step and how you’re going to not only make money and pay the bills, but also continue pursuing a career in comedy and entertainment or whatever that might be as a performer, writer, or director, whatever it is. So I it’s funny, I actually wrote some college student that found me on LinkedIn who’s doesn’t have any connection to the industry and is trying to figure out like, what do I do, especially during a pandemic? So I wrote a couple tips down today and I feel like even you know Even though this is advice I was giving a probably 20 year olds and Boston right now, I felt like it was advice I needed to give and almost 31 year old me, because I am in this position like many others where we don’t know if our careers are going to stall completely. During this time, we don’t know when when productions and projects are going to pick up again. So you can like your number one, I would say your number one priority should just be survival right now, and finding a way to make an income and making sure you’re taking care of and paying the bills and saving and paying off your debt and making sure like you said earlier like that you have you’re prepared for this, because it might happen again. After that, the tips that I gave this kid in terms of just you know, comedic pursuits, is basically right like creating stuff while you you while you can if you have the capacity to Writing, like, if you want to be a writer you have to write, I need to take this advice like write every day, I’m trying to like switch up between humor essays and scripts and different projects, like whatever your medium is. Just use this time to write if you can, you know if you have the mental capacity to do so, building your online network. This is these are multi steps, but basically reaching out like how he reached out to me, I reached out to someone who has a career that I I want to have one day, and I had a great chat with her about how she got there. And it was so helpful because I’d never had that conversation and like the decade that I have been trying to make that career happen for myself, I’m establishing your comedic voice online. So this is sort of connecting to writing. It’s like if you want to put up like a character monologue, you can do it like as long as you have like a social media account and Wi Fi, and a phone And I know those are also privileged things to have. But if you have the means to be creating content on your own, even if it’s really low phi, everyone’s sort of expecting it to be low phi right now, put your work out there while everyone’s at home on their phones and laptops and tablets and and then I would say the most important step, which also goes back to like survival being number one right now is taking creative breaks and consuming work that inspires you. So I, I’ve been like a bad comedy nerd over the past few years because I’ve been so busy that I haven’t really been catching up on all these shows that people are saying, like, if you want to be a great dark comedy writer, watch this show and stuff like that. And that’s also sounds like so privileged to say it’s like, I’m not watching enough TV, but now’s the time. Now’s the time to get caught up on these shows and see what’s out there and see what’s being picked up and you know, bye bye. more of what was being picked up by the network’s and and what what they’re looking for and what kind of stories they’re telling and you know pick a genre that you want to write and then watch those shows and learn to write them and look up scripts and but it’s like all these things you can do from home right now that the fate of the world is is very questionable as is the the entertainment industry all the time this is just added another like layer of like, what the fuck like who knows what’s going to happen for any of us Adam coming out of this but but yeah, it’s like just take it day by day do is do as much as you can. But don’t feel this pressure like I when I put in the note like about taking creative breaks and said don’t feel pressure to be productive. Like I know there’s so many like, cute graphics going around about that there’s like graphics that are saying like you have to be as creative as possible. Like now’s your time to launch all of your series like No, that’s silly, like don’t do what I’m doing like I am taking breaks out like I am, you know, I haven’t ever had this time before to, to think about these things. And that’s why I’m trying to, for those who those who also have stress about the world in the news, like use that stress put that stress into these creative projects. You know, like I been catching the like full frontal clips that Samantha B’s posting from home, and these are heavy issues she’s covering, but it’s still like her voice. So it’s like letting me know what’s going on and like, Oh, my God, like all of a sudden we have to fight for the US post Postal Service to stay open. But this is a way for them to do their job and bring us content, and also educate an audience. And so maybe if your goal is to educate an audience, use that anger with what’s going on in our administration’s mishandling of this to fuel your creativity. Jackson and maybe connected to like a cause If so, you know if that if that is something you want to do like I am producing a fundraiser this Friday a live stream fundraiser and I feel so helpless. I’m not a healthcare worker, I’m not on the front line. I, I there’s only so much I can give like my terribly, but, you know, using my skills as a producer and Booker and marketing and promotion of stuff like I can help raise money for a cause. And, you know, that’s one small thing. Even if it’s not all of the things at once.
Yeah, don’t feel the pressure. You’re you’re given advice saying like, don’t feel the pressure, but I can hear the pressure in your chest. Don’t worry here all right. You’re doing this stuff for the world crumbling around you don’t worry. You’re right.
I gotta, I gotta Heed my therapist’s advice. For one’s right. Yeah, it’s true. Like, I love It’s so funny. Whenever whenever I get the question like, what advice do you have? And I’m like, I feel like I need to write this down for myself and remind me every day because I forget, like you get so busy and overwhelmed like some advice I also usually say is like st and learn how to say no to things. And that was also in the pre Corona world when you would like be booked on shows overbooking yourself on stuff and projects. But it’s still true today. Like sit say no to the zoom conference, you you know, don’t really want to go to like if you don’t have the bandwidth, or the mental capacity that day. Just Just take time for yourself. We’re going through trauma like it’s like worldwide trauma right now. So like I said, survival, survival is key.
Survival is key. Well, thank you, Meghan, for being on the podcast and sharing your stories with me. Thank you so much for chatting with me and I’m really excited to share your journey. With my audience,
thank you. I appreciate it. Thanks for also sharing. I didn’t know your background in New York and it was it’s always awesome to hear about how like a fellow performer also like came into like New York and Austin and taking that journey and I appreciate you letting me ramble at you for the past. However long we’ve talked and
ramble you lovely, yeah. Lovely.
Thank you. I appreciate it. And yeah, hopefully stay well and healthy and everyone listening as stays alive as long as they can.
As long as we can all stay alive. Stay alive, everybody. That’s the that’s the hope survival is number one.
Yes. Not the show survivor. I would not put that show on a pedestal. I never watched it. But certifiable, do not mix those two up. Someone’s going to be like binge watching survivor. I’m going to Like why isn’t my TV career taking off?
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