This blog series features interviews taking place at the Dallas Comedy House (DCH) with some of the funniest stand-up comedians in the area. Read to learn about your favorite local funny people and about the curious emotional makeup of people who like to go on stage alone every night to get laughed at.
Lauren Davis: Human Friendster
Lauren Davis is a famous writer, famous comedian, famous improviser, famous sketch performer, and a famous dame about Dallas. But not for long, because she's moving to Los Angeles, a city on the west coast that's primarily known for its concrete import business and nothing else. I recently spoke with her at DCH after one of her open-mic sets, which like concrete, was a solid performance.
Thanks for meeting with me. You are the inventor of the popular DCH blog series "Comedians in Bars Drinking Alcohol."
Yes, I don’t even know how I thought of it. It was like a flash of inspiration.
No one's ever done anything similar to it. You're in the shower and say, "Hey, that's a great idea."
Exactly, I was shampooing, I think.
How did you select your comedians for the series?
It was pretty arbitrary. I don’t know, usually it's like I have a conversation with someone maybe earlier in the week and I say, "Oh shit, I should interview them." It's very random.
How did you get started with the videos for it?
That was totally Sean Alexander. He enjoyed the series, and he came and took beautiful pictures of everyone for a couple weeks and then he said, "I want to do a video, too." And because he's a dad and he’s a boyfriend and works a full-time job and does all these videography stuff on the side, he hasn’t been able to do it more -- well I’m leaving soon but if we got a sponsor in the next two weeks maybe we could do one more. He was great. He would set everything up. He did all the work and I got all the credit [chuckles].
What's the most interesting part of doing these interviews for yourself?
It's interesting just to talk to people about stand-up. A lot of people who you'd never think would care and who'd never care when they're on stage get really nervous and really in their heads and you can see wheels turning. They're trying to filter, they're worrying about the clubs sometimes. It's just stand-ups being stand-ups, I guess and trying to spin and control the interviewed the same way they do their sets.
Let's answer some questions you would ask stand-up comedians in your series. What's the first joke you told?
Oh no, embarrassing, but the first thing I said on stage I think -- I can’t remember my set. I was just drunk and talking, but the last thing was like, "And I have small boobs, bye."
My first joke was even worse. It was, "Having sex is like riding a bike, you never forget when you learn and you learn when you're five from your dad," and then no laugh and then it's like, "What? How old were you guys?"
What drives Lauren Davis to perform comedy?
Oh geez, I can’t do anything else. I literary can’t do anything else. I don’t have a degree. I am really scatterbrain. I have a hard time focusing. I haven't even made it into a completely marketable skill yet, but it's the only thing I love. It's my passion.
What's your greatest fear?
I guess shutting down. I’m probably getting too deep. I'm such an open book, though. There have been times in my life when I've been so depressed and anxious that I can’t function. Since comedy, it's gotten easier and easier to function but I worry about shutting down and not being able to do anything. I worry about my mind attacking me so bad that I can’t function.
That's a good subject you bring up because I think a lot of comedians and a lot of performers experience that. The panic attacks, the high anxiety, the depression, the, "I want people to like me." How do you overcome those feelings when you have them?
I don’t know. How do you? I have no idea. I just go out and get more validation. It's not a healthy way to live.
For myself, you move toward the fear.
I guess it's why it doesn’t scare me as much as it used to that I’ll shut down because it's like -- well now it's like everyone's scared all the time. It's just still showing up. It's not letting it stop you. If it's not scary, you don’t give a shit.
You are moving to L.A. Boo, big yay. It's one of those boo-yay things.
Why L.A. and not New York or Chicago?
New York seems more expensive and cold. I guess there's just more opportunities ideally in L.A. I'm hoping I’ll just fit in better. I love the community here but in LA, it's probably a lot of people who have worked themselves into a corner and don’t have any other marketable skills. They're desperate and grinding their asses off, trying a bunch of different things hoping that something sticks.
Hopefully, there'll be more projects, and I want to work in entertainment. It's only going to be a matter of time so I might as well go now because I’ll have to start over whenever I go.
What do you say the people who have trouble with the cliques in a community? For example, there are certain cliques -- people who always get picked for stand-up or people who always perform in sketch shows or picked for improv troops.
When I first started stand-up, there was one particular clique I got really jealous about because I felt like they looked down on everyone else. I was really frustrated. And then when I found my group of friends, people felt the same way about us and I realized it was unfair.
You can make up stuff in your head all day, but I don’t think it's a ranking system. I don’t think it's about worth and you definitely shouldn't measure your worth by it. It's about people who work together who want to keep working together. Networking. I know I’m about to start new in the belly of the beast, but you find someone you like to ride with and you make a connection and then it's about once you find that moment of magic, of creating something great with someone or being understood by someone, I think that's what sparks this chain reaction of collaboration that continues to grow.
Our sketch group, Fraud City, it was so random that we were all in class together and we just had chemistry. I think that so much of it is just chemistry.
What will you miss most about the DCH community?
The incredible love and support. People care about fostering one another's growth and encourage weirdness and taking big risks. I love everyone. I could say a million things, but I'm just so in love with everyone. They're the most talented, kind people I've ever met. It's such a privilege and still so unreal to belong to it. It's magical.