Lace Larrabee: A comedian on the rise who loves center stage!
A few weeks ago we got the chance to sit down with Lace Larrabee; former beauty queen, and now comedy queen. Before the interview we stepped into her world attending a show she was hosting at The Punchline in Atlanta, GA. Lace was the first on stage greeting the crowd with her huge smile and inviting personality. We knew the show would be hilarious after she compared her name to a stipper’s. Here’s a clip:
When the show closed we had about 10 minutes before her next show to pick her brain. How could we possibly do this interview in 10 minutes? We have so much to talk about! She sat down and started chatting right away; about sexism, inspiration, and the ups and downs of the comedy world; with no official introduction to the interview.
Here’s the inside scoop:
Give us a little background on Lace….
I’ve always lived in Georgia just in different areas, so I’m definitely Southern. I talk about it in my set, but I did pageants for several years. I actually paid for most of my college doing that. I was in Miss Georgia four times, but I don’t try to identify myself with any of that. I’m also an actor. I’ve been acting my entire life. I did speech contests from the time I was like 9 until I was 18, so I love to perform.
What sparked your interest in comedy?
That’s really easy. I wanted to be a stand-up comedian my entire life, so everything else that I’ve done or performed in whether it was competitive cheerleading or pageants, it was just an outlet for me to perform. I wanted to perform and I really loved comedy and always thought I was kind of funny, because I made my friends laugh, so it was a gold mine. When I was a little kid my parents were awesome, because they were really young and exposed me to everything. They had Richard Pryor albums, Eddie Murphy albums. That’s what we listened to in the house. My parents had a great sense of humor and they let me stay up late and watch SNL all the time and I loved it. So I grew up listening to real raw stand up comedy and they knew I was mature enough to listen to it. I loved it!
Who do you draw your inspiration from the most?
Soooo many comedians inspire me. So it’s kind of tough, I don’t have just one. I have my favorites, that I turn on and will always listen to. Like Maria Bamford for instance. Maria Banford is one of my all time favorite stand-up comedians.There are people I want to listen to on repeat, but you learn storytelling from Richard Pryor. He’s the kind that changed stand-up from one-liners to telling your story. Which is what I feel like I do. I literally tell my story. So no one in particular, I just like comedy, everyone.
Before doing stand-up, is there a process you have to go through or do you wing it?
If I’m in the mood to write stuff, I’ll get online on rooftopcomedy.com, which is a great website, because you can search by topic or search by comedian. So you pick a topic and you just listen and it’ll just play comics back to back to back. Or even like Pandora comedy I’ll do that. So yea I’ll listen to comedians and see what they did with certain subjects and that’ll give me inspiration or trigger a thought like “oh, yea yea this thing does happen.” You just do it to see how other people talk about things and it’ll remind you and I don’t know, because you don’t copy them or anything. But it’s very inspiring. You know I guess if you’re a musician, it’s like when you listen to other music. It gets you in the mood. And you see someone else being creative and talking about something and it makes you want to be creative.
Tell us a bit more about your writing process…
For writing and all that it’s just a lot of stuff I’ll think about and I’ll make a note (that’s why I’m on my iPhone all the time) and go back when I’m in the mood to write. Then I’ll look at a subject and write off that subject. I’ll have like stray pieces of paper all over my house, which I need to organize my stuff more but yea, I just make a note and go back and write on that note.
Do you give your sets a test run in front of friends or family before performing?
Nooo, a lot of stuff you just work out on stage. Like 80% of what you see on stage happens off stage. So like you write it, you prepare it, you know you’re going to do it and then you try it out. When it works it works and then its a “bit”. Then you try to expand that bit and then you have a set. So really before I get on stage any night of the week, wherever I am, I plan with how much time I have, and what my audience is going to be that night and I’ll pick my material based on that. So I do set jokes that I know work for different things. Some nights it’s such a crazy fun night that I just decide I’m going to try the new thing, but some nights like tonight you guys saw me do stuff that I’ve done like a thousand times.
So it’s easy I just set it up in my mind like okay, if they like her then they’ll like this, this and this. So you just prepare your set based on those [parameters]. And if you’re getting paid you want to do good; you want to do stuff that works. If you’re not being paid it’s like “weeelllll….I’ll try out new stuff tonight.” That’s really how you work it out, but I would never do a run for friends because you’ll never get the same reaction that an audience would give you. A friend would go “you know you could really like instead of using that word, you could use another word” or like “that’s a little distasteful”. But if you said it to a whole audience you get enough laughter that it’s like you don’t want to do the individual thing. That’s why stand up comedy happens in front of a crowd not to your friends, because friends are judgy. They feel entitled to “help you” and that’s what you don’t want.
Are you ever nervous before going on stage?
No honestly, I think it’s your job. So if you do it enough you don’t feel nervous anymore. You’ll get nervous if you know it’s a big crowd or you know you’re doing a new thing or you’re following somebody that’s really good that can be kind of tough. It can depend on the line-up and the night. But it’s a weird thing once you grab that mic and see people’s eyes, it’s gone for some reason. Like I could be nervous sitting back here and I’m like [panting] and taking off my shoes and stretching, pumping myself up, looking at my set lists making sure every things right, then once I grab that mic out of that mic stand it’s gone, because they’re sitting and I’m standing. It’s different and I’ve been doing comedy for 3 years and toured around the country twice so I perform all the time; it’s become a job more so.
What would you say your biggest challenges are as a comedian?
Oh my gosh, not making money. There’s such a huge divide in comedy; you can be completely broke and work in a restaurant or do photography or all the things I have to do on the side. Or you’re making billions of dollars. Like there’s such a huge gap, so that’s really tough. It works exactly like music or anything else, there’s always just a huge divide. That has to be the hardest thing; to do your craft and keep doing it until someone is like “hey, we want to pay you more for this.”
Would you consider comedy a male-dominated industry?
It has that reputation [as a male dominated industry] but I feel like it’s changing so much. The face of comedy is changing, because of the internet. Everybody can get there material out there now. You see so many different age groups, types of people, different types of comedy. It’s not like everybody’s got to do this one thing. You’re allowed to be who you want and do what you want now, because of the internet. So, I think the only thing you run into is a lot of sexism. For instance, I was doing a show, I think in Arkansas, and a guy comes right up to me after the show and I had already done a bit about my name sounding like a stage name. I already squashed that just so I wouldn’t have to deal with that from the audience. Then the guys comes right up and says something about me having a pornstar name. Wow, I just did 25 minutes onstage and you caught literally nothing I said and all you did was focus on my name, which is dumb because I already got that out of the way and that’s all you could come up with. Oh and before he introduced me, he said “She’s sexy and she’s funny” and I’m like why? No one ever says that about guys. They never refer to them as being a “sexy” comedian or how they say, “y’all ready for a lady??” No one goes “y’all ready for another dude?” Nobody says that. But they go “get prepared, it’s gonna be different y’all. She’s a woman.”
You saw a whole show tonight where it was two chicks and a dude. Same thing, it runs like a comedy show. It’s still comedy. People are always shocked too. “Oh my gosh, you’re a girl and you do comedy.” “You wear makeup and put on heels and you do comedy.” [laughing] I’m like that’s fascinating right, we do the same things. It’s almost like we’re the same! Almost like we’re equal. Almost! So that’s the feeling. i just try to ignore it, because you run into it but with younger comics you don’t run into it as much. Because younger comics see another comic. I hate the term comedienne. I’m not a fan of that, some people are even female comics are dead set on it, like “no, I’m a comedienne and I’m proud of it.” I’m not. I don’t like it. No one says “doctress”, they just say doctor. SO it’s a comic or you’re a comedian.
So your boyfriend is a comedian too…..how is that?
It’s awesome. He’s been doing comedy for 12 years, we actually met doing comedy. It was like we knew what we were getting into from the beginning. It was awesome and it actually just works out extremely well, because he gets to headline and perform all over the country and, lucky me, I get to go on tour with him. When I get booked it works out great. As a newer comic I’m lucky, because I get to tour with a headliner. We help each other write all the time. So it’s nice.
We both knew what we were getting into. It’s not like I’m with a guy who’s like “what are you doing in a bar until whenever.” He knows and like tonight he’s performing somewhere too. There’s understanding. That’s really awesome. We’re never trying to one-up the other one, because our comedy is different. We just support each other. We’re just sitting around talking or at breakfast and he’s like “that’s funny, write that down. You should have a bit about that.” and I’ll do the same thing to him. It’s actually really nice to date someone doing exactly what you’re doing and that’s better at it than you, because I’m learning from him all the time.
Are there ever times you guys joke around so much, you don’t know when to take each other serious?
We’re very normal people, I think. We just do comedy for a living. We’re really lame we like leave each other penned love notes and shit. So, we’re gross. Like tonight he sent me a text “have good shows baby” and I’m like “I am. I miss you.” So disgusting.
What are your aspirations as a comedian?
I will do what I’m paid to do. If I was offered a part in a television show, yes! That’s why I continue to act and I have an agent for acting. Anyway to get exposure, because that’s the thing. They will come to see your show if they know you from a thing on TV or in a movie or whatever. If I get offered a writing gig for a show, yes absolutely! I know so many comics, that make their money by writing for TV shows. There’s so many avenues for a stand-up comic to take. They hire stand up comics for SNL, sitcoms, everything. Because you’re writing for yourself and performing all the time, they know what they are getting. I want to take it as far as I can take. I want to be performing for the rest of my life. I want to be creating content and performing, whatever capacity that’s in. If I’m Joan Rivers and I’m still doing stand-up and working my ass off everyday of the year until I’m 80-something, then that’s what I want to be doing.
Life’s Tidbits with Lace!
GS: How to deal with heartbreak?
LL: Have a killer group of girlfriends! Also, sending screenshots of your ex’s new fling to those same girlfriends so they can tell you how much hotter, classier and better than her in every way you are helps too.
GS: How to love yourself?
LL: As much as I hate to admit that I like Taylor Swift, she makes a great point. If the world is telling you that you are too fat, too skinny, too smart, too air-headed, too ambitious, too inappropriate for a girl, then just put on a tutu, dance like a crazed maniac and “shake it off!”
GS: A Tip for Building Confidence
LL: Put on your favorite outfit and heels because if you fail, at least you looked amazing doing it.
GS: Smiling is better than frowning because…
LL: smiling is the best contagious thing you can pass on to a stranger.