Funny Human: Julie Marchiano
How you’re making people laugh these days:
I’m an actor at The Second City. I tour and am pretty much involved in every show running there right now. I do improv, sketch and storytelling other places, too.
When was the first time you remember getting a laugh?
I have two memories: I remember dancing by myself with, like, a tiny feather boa or something as a two- or three-year-old, and the grown-ups I was with started laughing at me. I was lost in my own world and startled by their laughter, and I got embarrassed. That’s my first memory of getting an unintentional laugh. At a sleepover in first grade, though, my friend fell and scraped her knee outside playing and she was crying. While her mom was coming with band-aids and stuff, I remember saying, “here comes the ambulance, wooOOooOOoo!” and my friend laughing instead of crying. I intended to make her laugh to feel better, and I succeeded!
When did you realize that being funny gave you power?
Oh man, I can’t really pinpoint a moment, but I figured out pretty early on that I was not going to get picked on for being a chub if I was funny and owned who I was.
What’s been the biggest risk you’ve taken thus far with your comedy?
All comedy is a risk, I guess. I would say the weirdest, “riskiest” shows I’ve done were my solo show (risk because, like, if I suck, there’s no one there to sweep edit) and my variety show of all dead people from history where I played Mary Todd Lincoln and talked about death for an hour (risk because there was a lot of screaming and it was just fucking weird). This all sounds like self-promotion. I mention these, I guess, to say that it’s been the shows I’ve been most passionate about that I have approached without any safety net that have been riskiest for me. Is that too vague?
What have you found to be the most intimidating or frightening thing about being a human woman in comedy?
I think we have a greater responsibility to represent our kind well and have something big to say, because we fought really hard to be here and are still fighting to be equal.
What advice would you give another young woman who was considering pursuing comedy?
Yeah, yeah, do it! We need you! I think anyone who is drawn to this stuff will not be happy until they pursue it wholeheartedly to the degree that satisfies them. For me, I don’t see another profession, but for some of my friends, they just need the creative outlet after work. Also, go into this knowing that not all jokes or shows will “land” with everyone, but the more you do it, the better you get. Also, when it stops being fun, find the fun again–or get the hell out.
What’s a question about comedy that you wish someone would ask you instead of boring-ass ones like, “why do people say women aren’t funny?’”
“Why are people so scared of women being funny?”
Who are the women making you laugh hardest right now?
Tina on Bob’s Burgers (who is voiced by a man, so I don’t know if that counts), Amy and Tina always, Mindy Kaling, Jenny Lawson, Caitlin Moran, and my contemporaries Jo Feldman, Carley Moseley, Emma Pope, Tiffani Swalley and Blair Beeken.