On Standup, Feminist Humor and Finding a Voice: Nikita Redkar
Nikita Redkar is a writer for various online and print publications including xoJane, the Reductress, Fusion, and Brown Girl Magazine. On top of the additional work she has done for other feminist nonprofits (seriously y'all, check her LinkedIn), she is a comedic expert proficient in all media of humor. #BossBabesATX staffer June had the opportunity to interview her. Read below for more!
We’ll start with a question I’ve always wanted to ask comedians: When did you first realize you were funny? Was that different from the moment you realized you wanted to pursue comedy?
The first time I got what I'd consider today to be "a real, unanimous laughter from an otherwise different group of people" was when I was 6 years old on the bus ride home from school. The entire bus was singing the "sitting in the tree/k-i-s-s-i-n-g" and I improvised a verse and boy, did that kill with first graders. Granted my humor has developed throughout the years, but ever since that age I've been chasing that feeling through whatever medium I could get (acting classes, creating funny songs, writing a terribly inappropriate student council election speech that everyone loved but ultimately got me kicked out of the group, etc.) It wasn't until 2014 that I started really writing and late 2015 that I got the guts to perform on stage.
What was your first show like? Did it go better or worse than you expected?
The first time I performed standup was in a dark basement in New York on a stage that was half the size of a bathtub. I had a joke written out about Jurassic World and how I didn't blame dinosaurs for eating all those people because I'd do the same thing if I was walking down the street one day and hundreds of pizza slices were running around. I also had a joke about driving stick shift. I memorized both of those to death and was literally shaking for the entire hour before I went up. (I also threw up in that hour because I'd chugged a Miller Lite for confidence.) By the time I actually went up, the words surprisingly just came out and I ended up DESTROYING. I was so elated I called my mom and my best friend and texted way too many people that probably didn't care. Then I bombed for the next few months after that.
Speaking of which, what is the most challenging thing that you have encountered while pursuing a career in comedy? How did you handle it or what advice would you give to others who might have to encounter the same obstacle?
I don't think this is unique to comedy but I'm a serial comparer. I'll build hierarchies of experience, talent, popularity, etc., in my head and if I feel that someone is above or below where I am, I'll treat myself differently. Not them, ME. I'll retreat more into a shell if I feel like I'll get judged by someone who is funnier than me. As women, we also have tendencies to compare ourselves to other women. It's the hardest thing not to because it's so drilled into us, but don't do it! Work hard and you'll automatically find your own voice and won't feel the need to compare to others. Live outside your head and listen instead of trying to assign everything meaning. I don't want to be on my deathbed thinking, "I could've done so many things if I hadn't let fear and doubt control me." (I realize this is a very macro point of view but it seems to help me!)
From your website, I saw that your humor translates across all forms of comedy: stand-up, sketch, writing, even on Twitter with its tiny character allotment. I know that no matter what style of comedy you engage with, you will be successful, but what is your favorite? Why?
Aw, you're so sweet! This question is like picking a favorite child because I love them ALL, but I know in the end I will need to focus most of my energy onto one child because that child will build the foundation of a career and hopefully make me money. I'd have to say my favorite is standup, because the feedback is immediate and you can grow independently, as opposed to only being able to perform and learn when your group has the time to meet. But I can't emphasize enough how much sketch, improv, and even writing helps my standup and vice versa. I know some people don't like to hear it, but being involved in the comedy trifecta is invaluable!
Comedy is such an underrated form of art, but can accomplish many of the same goals as more traditional media, plus more. What is your goal whenever you set out to create something, whether that’s a stand-up set, or a short film, or a hilarious blog post? (PS, I read your blog; you had me laughing within the first sentence!)
Again, you are so sweet! The two things I want to accomplish with every joke is to write something that I find funny and changes the audience's mind, whether it's picking apart something we all take for granted or giving an existing thing a different perspective. Life is hard, scary, confusing, and often very stupid but the coolest part is we're all in this together. So might as well just laugh about it.
You can find Nikita on Twitter @theredkarreport. And keep an eye out for her at BabesFest!