Welcome to the Inner Orbit Interview Series, where I bother LGBT+ and female-identifying performers about their lives and experiences as comedians. This week’s subject is a stunning, curly-haired wonder woman named Lisa Michalsky.
Lisa started performing in 2016 after friend and fellow performer Divina Peñaloza asked Lisa to take a class with her. “I went to two improv shows and thought, ‘I’m never going to do this,” Lisa confessed with a laugh. She’d take the class and move on, she was sure. Yet her teachers, Kyle Austin and Cesar Villa (both of whom also perform at DCH) encouraged her to take level two improv. Lisa, for one, is very happy she agreed.
There were several aspects of improv that appealed to her. “I stuck with it because I liked the creative outlet and people…who are smart and funny,” Lisa mused. “I’ve also always liked to make people laugh” and “it’s nice to be around a lot of strong funny women.” And after all, who doesn’t like both of those things? Laughter is the most immediate sign of acceptance and support. And coming from a room full of strangers – especially when you’re gay – it’s fantastic to feel! Lisa says herself that Dallas Comedy House is an “awesomely accepting community – not just our [gay] group but everybody.”
Indeed, negative experiences are few and far between, but even if alternative lifestyles are rejected, in a scene or otherwise, other players will step up to help support. “We did have a guy in our class – I don’t know if he was homophobic or uneducated – but if a character was gay he’d fight it.” (For you non-improvisers out there, that means he wouldn’t let the scene progress, or make choices that would stop the development of the gay character.) “One practice we sort of silently agreed to all be gay,” Lisa laughs at the memory. It’s not an uncommon tactic for performers to fight phobias with fun.
Support comes from teachers and coaches too, proving that the venue doesn’t shy away from putting progressive people in positions of power. “I had a coach tell us not to let the boys dominate us in a scene…It was a male coach, funnily enough,” Lisa recalls. To be given that kind of encouragement is a young performer’s dream.
Overall, Lisa looks at Dallas Comedy House as a healthy support system. “I’ll look at the audiences at our shows,” she says, “and there’s so many familiar faces there… people actively seek out shows to be supportive.” Sounds like she gives it a ten!
Lisa Michalsky can be seen live in four improv troupes: Three Best Friends, Midnight Passion, Shedding Skin, and the short form LGBT+ troupe Let’s Get Busy Tonight. When she isn’t performing, she volunteers with the Human Rights Campaign and plays tennis with a queer-identifying team called Sets in the City.
Emily is a writer, comedic improviser, and a Pisces. She currently performs both short and long form improv with Let's Get Busy Tonight, an all LGBT+ improv troupe.