Image: Moe Zoyari
Brittany Meyer, comedian and a bubbly spirit with a mission to make Chicago’s comedy scene more inclusive, talks about how they found their success in stand-up, the creation of their body-positive showcase called Strip Joker run by Meyer and Molly Kearney, and their future plans.
How did you get your start with body-positive comedy?
I started comedy almost six years ago when I was in Florida and going to school in Tallahassee. I was going to open mics but nothing was really clicking. I wasn’t getting consistent laughs and I really didn’t know what I was doing with standup—except that I liked the art.
When I got to Chicago, I found it to be a less fun atmosphere—mostly because I didn’t know what mics to go to. So mostly I went to open mics that mostly experienced comics went to. When I was around all of these other comics, they were making very transphobic and racist jokes. I was thinking, yeah, this isn’t really worth my time.
So I quit for maybe about two years. I only got back into it when I heard about The Kates, which is an all female-identified stand-up comedy group that Kelsie Huff runs. I went to one of their shows and it was delightful. All of comics were funny, they were all ladies and I was just kind of blown away. I just didn’t know that this could exist. I found out she teaches a class called The Kates University with other female-identified people who do standup that will teach you the basics. Once I went through that class, it all kind of clicked.
Ever since, I’ve been doing comedy more consistently. For me, I really wanted comedy to be more about the representation and the humor that I wasn’t seeing before. I wasn’t hearing people do progressive, fun humor. I really wanted to be a good representation of a gender non-conforming person in stand-up comedy. I wanted to make people laugh and also get across social issues—things that I found important.
And I think its what made body positivity the idea that I feel like everybody has these insecurities —and the idea of putting that out there on stage and giving people the platform to talk about it, helps make it a little more acceptable. It helps make people realize that they are not alone in these ideas. So that kind of hatched into the idea of Strip Joker where I really did wanna have a body-positive show.
Is there anything about your content or your shows that people would be surprised to know?
I think sometimes people are surprised that people aren’t just getting up in their underwear doing comedy. Sometimes they are taken aback that not everyone got completely naked or they did something kind of weird or different. Sometimes they are surprised, but I’ve noticed that they’re never disappointed.
What would you say is the most rewarding part of producing this type of comedy?
I think obviously the most rewarding is when I get to hear from other stand-up comedians that “this was my favorite show that I got to do” or that “this reminds me of why I love comedy.”
So I’m like, “Wow this is so worth putting all of the work and effort and all of the marketing and producing and getting the show out there.” It’s good to hear that even our own comedians have this great experience with it.
You mentioned that body positivity has been your mission for more than two years. Where are you planning to take this mission in the future?
Well, I think that’s what Molly [the producer of Strip Joker] and I are working towards. We are definitely trying to take this on the road and get into more comedy festivals. I guess it’s weird cause there is naked comedy where people take off their clothes—but that’s also the wrong side of it where the punchline is that you’re taking off your clothes. If it were something a little more empowering, more queer people, more female-bodied people, and more trans people would feel comfortable doing it. Because I think those shows would kind of excludes those voices that don’t fit the conventionally attractive narrative. I think taking this on the road and giving a space for those voices will be creating something different.