What do they say about New York City: There are eight million stories, and sometimes it seems as though eight million of the people telling them think they’re comedians? No, that’s not it. It is a fact, though, that America’s biggest city is also its biggest comedy mecca. Hollywood may be Hollywood, but New York City is where comedians are born funny, become funny or arrive to thrust their funny upon us. I think we should meet some of these people. This is a recurring feature, a mini-profile of newcomers, up-and-comers and overcomers of New York’s vibrant comedy scene. It’s called Meet Me In New York.
I first saw Sue Smith as part of a “cool” showcase of up-and-coming talent at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre a few years ago, previewing her one-woman show, “Minimum Rage,” about her anger issues when she taught yoga and waited tables while pursuing her dreams.
Fast-forward to 2015.
In addition to becoming a correspondent for the UCB1 comedy news webseries — where she has donned face-paint to blend in with the Gathering of the Juggalos, among other things — Smith has provided her comedic commentary to several VH1 programs (Best Week Ever, I Love the 2000s, 40 Greatest Viral Videos) and added stand-up comedy to her repertoire. It’s going well enough now that Time Out NY recently included her in its list of the 10 funniest women in the city, and her brand-new stand-up EP, “Slutty Pretzel,” certainly will allow more people everywhere to seek her out.
Her EP title plays off of her yoga instructor experiences.
Based on what I’ve seen and experienced in her presence recently, I wouldn’t call her a “Slutty Pretzel” so much as “Happy Fun Ball.” I want to become her comedy BFF, but I probably should listen to those small-print warnings one more time! If we’re all going to become fast friends with Sue Smith, we should get to know some more about her.
Let’s do this.
Name: Sue Smith
Arrival date: September 2000. I was just a baby then.
Arrived from: Northwestern Pennsylvania
When and where did you start performing comedy? My first improv show was at the UCB in 2007. I made a bold character choice that received a tepid audience response… I believe my first standup show was a few years later at a place called the Hog Pit in Chelsea. Comedy is very glamorous, guys.
What was your best credit before moving here? I won the gym class award in middle school. I’m very uncoordinated and hate authority but it had something to do with school spirit? idk maybe the gym teacher wanted to bone me.
Why did you pick NYC over LA or anywhere else? I’d always been drawn to this place. I’m from a small town and was obsessed with every TV show set here, especially Felicity.
How long did it take to get your first paid gig in NYC after moving here? Hahahahahaahahahaah that’s funny. In 2012, Andrea Ilene Shapiro gave me $10 for doing her stand-up show at Spike Hill. I was amazed because it had never occurred to me that I was supposed to be paid for comedy.
How is this scene better/same/worse than the scene you moved from? There isn’t really a comedy scene in rural PA, though every year a couple of misogynist comics from Ohio do a benefit show for the local firehall. So, yeah, I’d say the scene in NYC is a billion times better.
Can you describe an “only in New York City” moment from your experience here? I’m trying to think of one that doesn’t involve stepping in a sludge puddle… I waited tables at this disgusting cafe in SoHo that, for some reason, was a celebrity hotspot. I literally have no idea why. I found a cockroach in my shoe there once. Anyway, our brunches would get so packed that people had to wait awhile for tables. One Saturday, Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel put their names on the waitlist. They went shopping, came back two hours later, and asked if their table was ready. The manager wouldn’t give them one because they’d left. And also, they were only having coffee and not a full meal. She was Polish and I really admired her for that.
What tip would you give to any comedian who moves here? Quit! Get some rich parents! Seriously, all jadedness aside, the most important thing is that you learn your own personal comedic voice and shape your career around it.
Where do you see yourself five years from now? Dead.
I’ve never been great at planning my future. That’s probably why I’m a comedian.
Sue Smith co-hosts and produces the weekly Amazingtown stand-up showcase on Tuesday nights at Bunga’s Den in NYC, and hosts Tits & Giggles, the podcast for women in comedy and the men who support them. Here is one of Smith’s recent correspondent dispatches for UCB Comedy’s UCB1 News: “Your Vagina Can Save the World.”
Smith’s first stand-up EP, “Slutty Pretzel,” came out last week. You can buy it via iTunes or Amazon.com:
Here’s a sample track about “Dudes.”
Which NYC comedian would you like to see me style and profile next for Meet Me In New York? Send your nominations to: thecomicscomic AT gmail DOT com
Above: Photo of Sue Smith by Mindy Tucker