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.
Kendra Cunningham just finished a run of her one-woman show “This Could Be You” at the cabaret club Don’t Tell Mama, where she spilled about what she has learned from 20 years of therapy and self-help books. But Cunningham can also dish out the therapy. It’s not surprising to hear she has worked as a bartender.
But perhaps you might be surprised to learn Cunningham has appeared on two seasons of NBC’s Last Comic Standing, made the finals of the Boston Comedy Festival contest two years in a row, and has performed at Montreal’s Just For Laughs and the Glasgow Comedy Festival. Her TV credits include Tyra Banks, Gotham Comedy Live, and she’s now one of a handful of comedians finding new viral life for her clips thanks to Dry Bar Comedy, which is selling her new half-hour online, On My Best Behavior.
Chortle has likened her to Mae West and Groucho Marx. That’s quite the combo, with a Boston accent!
Cunningham’s podcast is called “How’s Your Mother?” But how’s Kendra? Let’s find out!
Name: Kendra Cunningham
Arrival Date: 2003
Arrived From: Boston
When and where was the first time you performed comedy?
2004. I performed at a Graduation Show at Gotham Comedy Club, its original location. I then took about 6 more classes and did bringer shows for about two years. I didn’t even know there was an open mic scene.
What was your best credit when you moved to NYC?
My best credit was working at Cafe Mojo a trendy bar in Back Bay.
Why did you pick NYC over Los Angeles or anywhere else?
I had a friend from college who needed a roommate and all my friends in Boston were getting married. It was my first and only offer out.
How long did it take you to get paid work in comedy after you moved to NYC?
I’m pretty sure Soul Joel gave me my first paid gig in 2009.
How is the comedy scene in NYC better/worse/different from the scene where you were before?
I started here but I go back to Boston to perform a lot. The scene here is so big. It’s hard to know everybody. In Boston, if feels like all the comics know each other. Not sure if that is true but it has that vibe. But no complaints. I’m glad I started here in NYC. The scene in New York sets the bar high so as a beginner, you are trying to be as good as some of the best.
Do you have any experiences that you’d describe as “only in New York” to your friends and family elsewhere?
One year my boyfriend got us access to the NYE ball on Dec 30th. Jenny McCarthy was the host. The next day he sent me pictures of me in front of the ball. I wrote back “I look so pretty” he wrote back “that’s Jenny McCarthy” hahaha I thought he was sending pictures of me from the night before but he was sending me shots of Jenny McCarthy getting ready to host.
What advice would you give any comedian who’s thinking of moving here?
Check out as many shows as you can. Find your people. I liked taking classes because you had a built in support group. Start your own show. Stick to your voice.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Five years from now I’ll have a live Graham Norton like talk show once a week, I’ll have a best-selling book, and have made an independent film, acting in other people’s projects as well as my own, helping people set creative goals and stick to them, I’ll be a home owner and have rental income, I’ll be eating vegetables on a regular basis. I will dress like I’m going somewhere fabulous all the time. People will ask “where you going?” on a regular basis. I’ll leave it at that.
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