The Best Undiscovered Comedian From Every State
Wyoming Brandt Tobler
New York and Los Angeles have long been the hubs of American comedy, with Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, and a handful of other major American cities acting as regional beacons for hopeful stand-ups. But we wanted to know, because no one ever seems to ask: Who’s hilarious in Hawaii, funny in Florida, killing in Kentucky, and slaying in South Dakota right now? We learned these things and much more while conducting a months-long survey of stand-up scenes across the country, and we’re proud to present our findings in the form of this sprawling list of comedians you should know from all 50 states.
In selecting the 50 funny people below, we talked to comedy clubs and comedians working in each state, scoured YouTube and other platforms, and sat through countless hours of performances. Some of our choices are on the cusp of breaking out nationally, while others seem perfectly content with making locals laugh in less populated areas. In certain cases, we picked comedians who didn’t grow up in or who no longer live in their respective states, but they all identify and maintain strong connections with the place in question. In short, we tried to present a snapshot of American comedy today, not just in traditional comedy meccas but everywhere jokes are being told on stage in the United States. Eunice Elliott Hometown: Bessemer, AL (pop. 26,386) People think Alabama is: “Very slow and behind the times.” People don’t realize Alabama is actually: “A great place to make home because of the business opportunities and the low cost of living. And it’s the first state alphabetically so it cuts down on the time to fill out an application online!”
Eunice Elliott has a day job. That’s not unique among comedians, but Elliott’s is atypical in that she’s already in the spotlight: She’s a news anchor for WVTM 13, an NBC affiliate in Birmingham, where you can watch her during the early morning hours on weekdays. That’s far from her first high-profile gig, with Elliott’s resume also including stints at ESPN, the Tennessee Titans, and as a sports agent. But comedy has been a part of her life since her childhood, when her family held daily “bet you can’t make me laugh” competitions, with special “punishments” doled out for not being funny enough — the only kind of child discipline we can get behind. For the past decade she’s somehow found the time and energy to perform gigs on nights and weekends, even traveling hundreds of miles to get laughs with her warm, self-deprecating, story-focused sets. Read More Hometown: Fairbanks, AK (pop. 32,751) People think Alaska is: “Always cold and dark.” People don’t realize Alaska is actually: “A place where winters are much more mild than much of the country that gets slammed with freezing rain, snow storms, traffic messes, school closures, etc. Alaska winters can get a bit cold, but it is a still, dry cold, and rather uneventful.”
You’d be hard-pressed to find a comedian with deeper Alaskan roots than Glenner Anderson . A third-generation resident of the nation’s 49th state, Anderson hosts the X-Rock Morning Show on KXLR 95.9, which is actually recorded in a cabin. He hunts. He fishes. He hikes. He communes every summer with a group of friendly grizzly bears, and can make the calls of more than two dozen birds using just his hands and mouth. OK, that last sentence is made up, but you get the idea! Having worked in Alaska radio for more than 30 years, Anderson has performed alongside comedians headlining national tours, but continues to relish the small-town feel of Alaska open mics. And in any case, taking his comedy career to the next level would mean less time in Alaska, and it’s not worth it to Glenner. Now that’s state pride. Read More Hometown: Scottsdale, AZ (pop. 246,645) People think Arizona is: “A hillbilly desert.” People don’t realize Arizona is actually: “A hillbilly desert, except for Scottsdale, where I live.”
Jonathan Gregory does not design his comedy to make audiences feel comfortable; he’s more interested in hitting them in the mouth. Figuratively, that is — though he could also do it literally, thanks to the three Arizona state boxing championships he’s won. Gregory calls his brand of humor “creepy comedy,” and it doesn’t take long to figure out why — after a career in public motivational speaking saw him found a nonprofit that helped inspire children in public schools, he says he “grew weary of stupid kids,” which tells you all you need to know. With a varied set of experiences that include appearing as a punching dummy in a Mike Tyson promo, taking 96 hits from a wooden oar in E! True Hollywood Story Investigates: Hazing , and landing a spot on the best of the worst of NBC’s Last Comic Standing , he’s a weird dude, in the best way possible. Read More Hometown: Little Rock, AR (pop. 198,606) People think Arkansas is: “Backwards and boring.” People don’t realize Arkansas is actually: “Vibrant and alive, with a hidden gem behind every corner.”
Kayla Esmond is a busy woman. Just 27 years old, she runs the only female-produced open mic in Arkansas at EJ’s Eats and Drinks in Downtown Little Rock, founded and serves as head writer of a sketch troupe called Tyrannosaurus Sketch, produces stand-up comedy around Central Arkansas, and co-hosts a podcast ( Law and Criminal ) about the absurdity of everyday laws. It’s enough to make you tired just reading about it, but Kayla’s anything-goes approach has also made her a popular figure in the thrumming Arkansas comedy scene. She has a lot of balls in the air, and looks poised for a breakout. Read More Hometown: Modesto, CA (pop. 214,221) People think California is: “A nightmare.” People don’t realize California is actually: “The most beautiful nightmare.”
Choice isn’t hard to come by in California, the nation’s most populous state, and it’s positively littered with comedians looking to become the next big name to have performed a set at the Comedy Store. Unfortunately, we can only choose one worthy candidate from among this throng of hopeful stand-ups, and Marcella Arguello is more than worthy. She refuses to back away from what might generically be called “controversial” topics, but what we’ll say are “regular, everyday subjects that affect all people” — race, gender, sexuality, and so much more. When she’s not touring, you can find her hosting an eclectic comedy show, “Women Crush Wednesdays,” every (wait for it) Wednesday at the Hollywood Improv Lab. Get out there and check her out. Read More Hometown: Denver, CO (pop. 693,060) People think Colorado is: “Full of lazy, skateboarding stoners.” People don’t realize Colorado is actually: “Full of super-successful, skateboarding stoners.”
It’s a classic journalism-school assignment: Find something that makes you uncomfortable and do it. That’s how Rachel Weeks found stand-up comedy in 2013, while attending Drake University in Iowa — by talking to working comedians, seeing her first show, and giving it a try herself. “I felt incredible, I floated off the stage,” she says. “When you spend your whole life looking for your thing, it feels really amazing to find it.” Now, Weeks, who grew up in the Chicago suburbs, is a fixture in Denver’s comedy scene, regularly performing at the landmark club Comedy Works , sometimes with her all-womyn “power group” the Pussy Bros. , and hosting and producing the laugh-out-loud live storytelling podcast We Still Like You . Read More Hometown: Avon, CT (pop. 18,364) People think Connecticut is: “Hard to spell.” People don’t realize Connecticut is actually: “Just three words: ‘connect’ ‘I’ ‘cut.'”
She might come across as timid, but Sara Shea ‘s jokes pack a sneaky punch. “I need to be an advocate for other shy people and speak on their behalf because they can’t do it for themselves,” she quips in a taped performance for the Bananas Comedy TV Show . As an Avon resident, her first-ever show was all the way out in Los Angeles at The Improv, a stage where all the biggest names have performed. “I had made a new friend who was a comic and I would always ask him about it,” she says. “He basically ended up telling me my level of interest was not normal and urged me to try it.” Connecticut is better off for it: Amongst the clean comedian’s other topics, you’ll hear thoughts on men in business suits riding bikes and black pepper as contraband. Read More Hometown: Wilmington, DE (pop. 72,846) People Think Delaware is: “A small southern state.” People don’t realize Delaware is actually: “Philadelphia’s left nut (Camden, NJ, is the right).”
During one of his stand-up performances at Philadelphia’s Helium Comedy Club, Brandon Jackson tells the crowd he’s from Delaware and interrupts them when they start to applaud. “You don’t need to clap,” he says. It’s a small moment, but it’s reflective of the performer’s low-key, self-deprecating approach to comedy. A University of Delaware graduate originally from Wilmington, Jackson has worked at a youth prison and as a teacher, two experiences he incorporates into his material onstage. “The first time I did stand-up was at a talent show for Public Allies Delaware when I was in AmeriCorps,” he tells us. “It was really bad and awkward but I was hopped up on adrenaline and just being happy I didn’t work the night shift at a supermarket anymore.” Read More Hometown: Plantation, FL (pop. 92,706) People Think Florida is: “All sunshine and hot models.” People don’t realize Florida is actually: “Home to a lot of fat people. I mean, it’s the last stop in the States so they just sit here and buffet.”
Despite being born in New York, Gene Harding has serious Florida cred and has lived in the state for a decade. In addition to popping up in small roles on Burn Notice and Ballers , two quintessential Florida shows that film in Miami, the actor and comedian has played at venues across the state and got his start in 2009 at the Fort Lauderdale Improv at the Hard Rock Casino. He describes it as “the most terrifying moment of my life” and remembers that “every liquid in my body was volunteering to leave my body from fear and terror.” Since then, those nerves have clearly calmed down and he’s become a way more confident performer, which you can hear for yourself on his comedy EP, “The Human Being.” Read More Hometown: Columbus, GA (pop. 197,485) People Think Georgia is: “Backwoods.” People don’t realize Georgia is actually: “Backwoods — and Georgia should only be Atlanta.”
Even though Mia Jackson ‘s first stand-up performance back in the early 2000s earned her “a bunch of sympathy laughs” from friends and family, it was enough to propel her to a career that includes opening for Dave Chappelle, appearing on Inside Amy Schumer , and making it to the semifinals of Last Comic Standing Season 9 back in 2015. Cutting her chops in the tough, male-dominated Athens comedy scene — “I was the only woman there. Period. In the building,” she told Atlanta lifestyle magazine Simply Buckhead about her first-ever gig — while holding down a corporate job, she made the transition to full-time comic in 2014, 10 years after breaking into Atlanta’s clubs. Now, she’s telling her jokes about the pains of being a too-tall lady and fighting over a Popeyes biscuit with an ex around the country. Read More Hometown: Honolulu, HI (pop. 359,870) People Think Hawaii is: “Primitive and the most isolated population center on Earth.” People don’t realize Hawaii is actually: “Multicultural and diverse; people live till they are very old; and we pay a lot for milk.”
Augie Tulba , who performs under the stage moniker Augie T, may not be a household name on the mainland, but he’s been a comedy mainstay in Hawaii for more than a quarter century, ever since doing 10 minutes of open mic work at the Honolulu Comedy Club. In the ensuing years, Augie’s work has been recognized by publications like Honolulu Magazine , and he won two Na Hoku Hanohano awards ( the Hawaiian Grammys , as they’re known) for Best Comedy Album. He’s played huge sold-out theaters and traveled the country performing — proof you don’t need a sitcom with your name on it to “make it” doing comedy. Read More Hometown: Salmon, ID (pop. 3,055) People Think Idaho is: “Potatoes.” People don’t realize Idaho is actually: “The lentil capital of the world.”
Animals factor heavily into Emma Arnold ‘s backstory. She is originally from a town called Salmon, keeps bees, and has a tattoo of a beaver. The story of how she got said body art is how she opens her special “Yes, Please” — which, by the way, she performs in front of a large rendering of the same water-dwelling rodent. According to Arnold, she had a dream about a beaver right when she started comedy, a moment that coincided with her divorce. Now, Arnold has a “Brady Bunch situation” taking care care of six kids (three of them step) as she tours the country. Lest you think her material is sanitized, know that her first performance was at a punk bar’s open mic night known as Dog Dick Fuck Around, Hour and a Half. “I told a four-minute story about how I bought a new mattress instead of going to Burning Man with some friends,” she said. “I got a few laughs and was immediately hooked.” Read More Hometown: Chicago, IL (pop. 2,716,450) People Think Illinois is: “Full of honest Midwestern milk-drinking angels.” People don’t realize Illinois is actually: “Full of absolute FREAKS AND LUNATICS!!”
“Squirm” is about as apt a stage name possible for Sarah Squirm (née Sherman), who’s been performing in Chicago since attending college in the unofficial bratwurst capital of the nation. Her act is full of the kinds of putty-faced expressions, contortions, and unabashed treatment of bodily functions/fluids that make “squishy” the most accurate descriptor of her vibe. As an added bonus, she’s a visual artist whose oozing depictions of genitalia and their effluence complement her onstage work perfectly. After a summer of touring with Weird Twitter denizen Brandon Wardell, Sarah seems poised to make a big leap in the near future. Read More Hometown: Indianapolis, IN (pop. 863,002) People Think Indiana is: “All farmland and NASCAR races. (It’s a lot of that.)” People don’t realize Indiana is actually: “Home to a lot of diverse, creative artistry. Comedy, poetry, food, art… it’s not as obvious or prevalent here but if you seek it out, there are a lot of people doing a lot of cool, unique things.”
No stranger to controversial topics in his sets, Dwight Simmons titled his debut album Pacifist Aggressive , and it’s a succinct way to describe his brand of affable yet button-pushing comedy. Even as a sophomore in high school, he was provocative and, according to Simmons, “bad” enough to get heckled by a parent at a talent show. “Turns out, being an asshole in the classroom or quoting your favorite TV shows for your friends doesn’t translate to standing alone on stage holding a microphone in front of 600 people,” he remembers. He’s learned to work a room since then and even brings his light touch to BrewTube Comedy , a series he hosts that combines his dueling passions for local breweries and local comedy. No parental hecklers allowed. Read More Lyn-z Harney Hometown: Iowa City, IA (pop. 74,398) People Think Iowa is: “Just a boring place filled with corn and for some reason nothing else.” People don’t realize Iowa is actually: “Also a lovely little place filled with people who can create a good time for themselves, and more importantly, laugh at themselves, AND CORN.”
Lyn-z Harney — pronounced like “Lindsey” — is currently one of the many funny people vying for attention in Chicago. But she doesn’t think you should discount her home state of Iowa when it comes to the comedy scene. “Anyone rolling through or living there should 100% check it out,” she said. After all, she got her start by illegally sneaking into the basement of an Iowa City bar when she was underage and doing “five minutes on the plight of 19-year-old womanhood.” She’s also found ways to work Iowa into her comedy, which trades in topics like anxiety and dating. In one set , she did a bit about a distinctly local (and by her account, gross) phenomenon: porch catcalling. “There’s not a single porch in Iowa City that’s not up to any sort of code,” she cracked. Read More Hometown: Wichita, KS (pop. 391,586) People Think Kansas is: “Not cool.” People don’t realize Kansas is actually: “A really good band. “
A fellow comedian once described Travis Cagle ‘s comedy as “the personality of Matthew McConaughey in the body of Dakota Fanning,” so now you know everything you need to know about Cagle’s sense of humor. He has an easygoing style designed to make audiences feel at home, and that approach has paid off in a city with a fast-developing arts and culture scene . He regularly performs at local hotspots like the Loony Bin, which hosts the annual Wichita’s Funniest Person contest — keep an eye on Cagle as a contender in the years to come. Read More Hometown: Louisville, KY (pop. 615,366) People Think Kentucky is: “Bad because of Mitch McConnell.” People don’t realize Kentucky is actually: “Bad because Matt Bevin has made it a place where a racehorse has more rights than a woman.”
Mandee McKelvey came to comedy 12 years ago after her partner died from cancer. “We had moved to Louisville together,” she said. “I had just spent the last eight months wandering around Louisville without knowing anyone. I was lost, deeply grieving, and terrified. I was calmly and matter-of-factly planning out my suicide. When I contemplated if there was anything that I felt was left undone, the only thing that came to mind was stand-up comedy.” She made a deal with herself: “Go on stage and if it’s awful and not what you hoped, you’re allowed to die.” Luckily, she made it her career that has found her opening for Tig Notaro and now has a hilariously self-deprecating set about age and the names your parents give you. Read More Hometown: New Orleans, LA (pop. 391,495) People Think Louisiana is: “Just another southern state.” People don’t realize Louisiana is actually: “Like a completely different country (especially New Orleans).”
A self-described “lefty liberal snowflake angry Black feminist,” Camille Roane started doing stand-up after the 2016 election. “I really just fell in love with comedy because it seemed like a good way to tell a lot of people at once how messed up getting married at a plantation is,” she says. The New Orleans resident is now one of the co-founders of the Black Girl Giggles collective , a group that puts on an annual event that coincides with Essence Festival, and also hosts a “sex comedy game show” called I Probably Shouldn’t Ask. As for the subjects she tackles? She told local site ViaNolaVie that she’s often described as “that girl who can’t stop talking about feminism and race and sometimes she talks too much about her sex life.” Read More Hometown: Blue Hill, ME (pop. 2,645) People Think Maine is: “An alphabet with no R’s in it.” People don’t realize Maine is actually: “Sometimes open to R as a theory.”
Maine native Emma Willmann made her network television debut on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in 2016 and her set included a shout-out to her “tiny town,” with its one-man Gay Pride parade. She’s hit the comparative big time since then, appearing on HBO’s Crashing and The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend , but her first TV role was actually as a reenactor in an episode of Investigation Discovery’s Deadly Affairs . The part didn’t totally capture her sense of humor. (As she told the Boston Globe , college bookers would watch her reel and “it’s just me being a murderer.”) Luckily, comedy lets her explore her personal life a bit more, whether she’s talking about coming out of the closet in her stand-up or doing a killer impression of her mother. Clearly, she’s got range. Read More Martin Amini Hometown: Silver Spring, MD (pop. 76,716) People Think Maryland is: “Only known for producing great things like the HBO TV show The Wire.” People don’t realize Maryland is actually: “Also responsible for producing great people like Dave Chappelle, Wanda Sykes, and Martin Lawrence.”
It’s not easy being a comedian from Silver Spring, the hometown of Dave Chappelle, but the 31-year-old Martin Amini isn’t cowed by Chappelle’s long shadow. He founded and hosts and The Overachievers Comedy Show , one of the most popular comedy shows in Washington, DC, where he showcases a personal style of humor that gives audiences a glimpse at what life is like as an American who grew up as part of an Iranian and Bolivian mixed family. His hard work (he’s an overachiever, right?!) has paid off, with an appearance on the Wanda Sykes-produced Epix series Unprotected Sets booked for October of this year. Read More Hometown: Brockton, MA (pop. 95,630) People Think Massachusetts is: “For Jack Nicholson in The Departed.” People don’t realize Massachusetts is actually: “For Jack Nicholson in Something’s Gotta Give .”
Jamie Loftus ‘ first stand-up attempt, which occurred in a barn when she was 19, included jokes about 1) airplanes, 2) wearing a wig of her own pubes, and 3) having sex with her dad on a Zamboni. And she’s been trapped in an upward spiral ever since! Loftus, like our Illinois pick Sarah Squirm, is also a visual artist (her cartoons are her day job), but she also does stand-up and makes very funny videos involving dolls and sometimes dental work on horses. According to her most recent reel , she works for coupons and sex knives, which is how we got her to agree to participate in this project: Coupons for sex knives. Jamie Loftus is a name you’ll want to remember. Read More Hometown: Oak Park, MI (pop. 29,645) People Think (Detroit) Michigan is: “Dangerous.” People don’t realize (Detroit) Michigan is actually: “A diverse place, and it’s five minutes away from another country, so if this president starts something I’m applying for my Canadian citizenship.”
When you first see Josh Adams perform, you immediately feel like one of your funniest friends is chatting with you in his living room — he’s devastatingly funny, but has a knack for making a crowd feel comfortable. That’s probably why his first attempt at stand-up, at a club called The Music Box in Detroit, went over well with an audience he describes as “full of drug dealers and plant workers.” That’s not easy to pull off, though that particular scenario is probably something you should avoid, if you can help it. Josh’s talents have earned him a number of first-place finishes in comedy competitions, including on an episode of BET’s Apollo Live , filmed at the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem. Read More Hometown: Prior Lake, MN (pop. 25,863) People Think Minnesota is: “Cold.” People don’t realize Minnesota is actually: “Very cold.”
When Chloe Radcliffe is on stage, there’s a confidence and ebullience she exudes that suggests she’s been doing stand-up her entire life. In reality, the 27-year-old Minnesota native has only a few years’ experience under her belt with a background in theater and improv, but Radcliffe found a groove in the Twin Cities comedy scene, gigging around at spots like Acme Comedy Club, where she’s opened for big names like Dave Attell, and Comedy Corner Underground. In 2017, Radcliffe was named a TBS Comic to Watch, putting her feminist, self-effacing routine in the spotlight. Read More Rita Brent Hometown: “Born, raised, and still living in Jackson, Mississippi (pop. 166,965), with hopes of discovering the real-life Wakanda someday.” People Think Mississippi is: “Still enslaved.” People don’t realize Mississippi is actually: “Not enslaved, but some of its leaders are still committed to racist ideologies (e.g., the Confederate flag). Nevertheless, countless Mississippians are resisting. I have discovered stand-up comedy as a creative avenue to be socially conscious in a non-threatening, digestible way.”
Just 31, Rita Brent has already lived multiple lives. She enlisted in the Army as a drummer in the 41st Army National Guard Band. She came home and became a public radio DJ. Looking to find her voice, she decided to try stand-up comedy for the first time in 2013, her gospel pianist mother, in her full church garb, front and center in a tiny Jackson club. She was paid $25 for her set. “I knew that night this would be the career to help me pay off my student loans,” Brent jokes. In the past five years, she’s worked to raise the profile of Mississippi comedians and was recently a featured performer on Kevin Hart’s Comedy Central series Hart of the City . Read More Hometown: Saint Charles, MO (pop. 69,293) People Think Missouri is: “Full of ‘hicks.'” People don’t realize Missouri is actually: “A place where people live just like anywhere else. Any generalization regarding the psychological framework of the individuals who comprise a population of millions will always be false. There are commonalities across the board when analyzing human beings. We all have basic needs: food, water, sunlight, shelter, safety. We also have more profound cognitive needs such as community, purpose, love, creativity, and connection to the immense system of life surrounding us. To identify the citizens of a state as some sort of crude stereotype would be intellectually disingenuous and morally irresponsible. That being said, Missouri is packed with hicks. To the brim. It’s a real problem.”
As you can tell from Andrew Frank ‘s answer to our crude little fill-in-the-blanks questionnaire we asked all these comedians to complete, he brings an intellectual rigor to his comedy while remaining plain-old funny . The guy’s hour-long special is called Macrocosm , and just looking at his touring schedule is enough to wear you out. While you might be tempted to brand Frank an elitist comedian, what comes through in all his sets is a sense of fun that doesn’t condescend to the crowd. You don’t need to understand the theory of relativity to get his jokes, because he’ll explain space-time and light speed to you in a way that makes sense. I mean, is there another comedian out there who could convert his dick length to light years and still make it funny? Possibly, there are so many comedians in this world! But there isn’t another one that we’ve heard of, so Andrew Frank has carved out what we feel is a unique space in the vast comedian universe. Read More Hometown: Missoula, MT (pop. 73,340) People Think Montana is: “Doesn’t contain people, especially funny people.” People don’t realize Montana is actually: “A state with a super-vibrant, welcoming, surprisingly diverse comedy scene, even if it’s a bit small and isolated. Touring comics: Please stop here and do shows!”
Sarah Aswell began her comedy career on a dare. The mother of two says she had breast milk leaking through her bra when her friends pushed her to get onstage at an open mic, and it triggered a newfound love she’s pursued ever since — mostly through writing, as she prefers not to tour as a comedian while her kids are young. But her words have a long reach, appearing in The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, National Lampoon , and more, proving that you don’t have to have a Netflix special to deliver comedy to the masses. In a recurring theme on this list, Aswell apparently has more hours in the day than the rest of us: In addition to humor writing and parenting, she’s written a YA biography about Kendrick Lamar , and runs a free workshop where she teaches women and non-binary people how to break into stand-up and write humor. Must be something in the Big Sky State’s water. Read More Hometown: Grand Island, NE (pop. 51,517) People Think Nebraska is: “Lame.” People don’t realize Nebraska is actually: “The good life.”
On Jordan Kleine ‘s Instagram account, she describes herself as the “G.L.O.A.T.” — the “greatest lesbian of all time.” That in-your-face frankness is evident in her set where she’ll talk about cocaine and casually ask her audience, “Any homophobic people in here?” She then launches into a bit about how her upbringing in Nebraska made her homophobic growing up. During an appearance in New York , it killed. Back in 2016 she talked about doing this kind of material in rural Nebraska , where it didn’t always play well. “I had a show in Beatrice, and I did my gay [stuff] and, and they were like totally not into it,” she said. But Kleine’s unapologetic jokes have taken her from Duffy’s open mic to opening for Cameron Esposito. Read More Hometown: Las Vegas, NV (pop. 648,224) People Think Nevada is: “All showgirls and shrimp cocktails.” People don’t realize Nevada is actually: “In desperate need of qualified teachers.”
A host of two local open mic shows, Randall Thompson knows the best, the worst, and the strangest Las Vegas has to offer. On his website, the self-described “absurdist, bisexual, African-American” comedian notes that his show at the Motor City Cafe has featured “folks that have appeared on Comedy Central” along with “a bunch of really cool limo drivers.” Thompson himself got his start at an open mic in 2011, when he performed at a strip mall in front of three other comedians. “I did a terrible job,” he tells us. By now he’s put in plenty of hours onstage and on his podcast Deadass , where he interviews other comedians, talks about his travels, and gives you a sense of what Sin City is all about. Read More Nick Lavallee Hometown: Manchester, NH (pop. 110,506) People Think New Hampshire is: “Part of Canada. When I tell people I’m from New Hampshire, they assume I’m Canadian.” People don’t realize New Hampshire is actually: “Part of the New England states. We usually lie to outsiders by saying we’re ‘from Boston’ — which is the absolute most New England thing any of us do.”
Attending the same high school as Adam Sandler would be a daunting task for any comic, especially if you came of age when his They’re All Gonna Laugh at You album was a car-stereo staple, but Nick Lavallee takes it all in stride. The New Hampshire comic, who has opened for acts like Bo Burnham, Andrew “Dice” Clay, and Gilbert Gottfried, first cut his teeth telling jokes in between songs as part of a ska-punk band in the ’90s. (“Playing in a ’90s ska-punk band is still the least embarrassing thing about my history,” he says.) Still, Lavallee will occasionally work music into his comedy, like in his ode to All in the Family actress ” I Love You, Sally Struthers ,” and the DIY ethic he picked up from touring has informed his approach to making people laugh. Read More Hometown: Newark, NJ (pop. 281,764) People Think New Jersey is: “Just fist pumping, Jersey Shore wypipo with mafia ties.” People don’t realize New Jersey is actually: “The home of Michael B. Jordan, Shaq, Lauryn Hill, and myself… it’s a great place to live if you overlook the traffic and the way Thomas Edison treated elephants. Like they say in the Broadway play Hamilton , ‘Everything is legal in New Jersey.'”
When a professor gives you a chance at an easy A, you take it. That’s what Gordon Baker-Bone did when his public speaking professor promised him an A and the right to skip the rest of the course’s classes if he performed at an open mic. He did, and walked out with an A, more free time, and a new career path. Since then, his career has blossomed in nearby New York City, but Baker-Bone is always quick to reference his Jersey roots — because you can’t really deny the power of Jersey pride. Read More Hometown: Los Alamos, NM (pop. 12,019) People Think New Mexico is: “Some sort of backwards, crime-infested stain on the map.” People don’t realize New Mexico is actually: “Some sort of backwards, crime-infested stain on the map. But I kid, New Mexico is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, one of the most diverse places, and is full of kind and loving people. And chlamydia.”
There are worse names than Danger K. Varoz to have as a performer, and Danger as a first name is particularly cheeky for someone whose job is making people laugh. Varoz’s career almost sputtered to a stop before it got going, though, when he pissed off a bunch of local comedians at his first competition showcase by bringing a posse of his friends to pack the room (and the vote), leading to an easy win. He recovered quite well, paying his dues at open mics, and now hosts a late-night show called The New Mexican Inquisition , which focuses on local politics and current events. Varoz also created and directs Sketchy TV , an Albuquerque-based sketch comedy show and co-produces Albuquerque’s only comedy game show, Hour Now . In other words, you can’t talk about comedy in New Mexico without mentioning Danger K. Varoz. Read More Hometown: Brooklyn, NY (pop. 2,648,771) People Think New York is: “Loud, rude, and smelly.” People don’t realize New York is actually: “Loud, rude, smelly, and IMPOSSIBLY expensive.”
Still living in the same neighborhood he called home as a child, Khalid Rahmaan is a New Yorker through and through. Comedy wasn’t on his radar until he gave a riotous best man speech at a wedding… and promptly bombed at his first actual open mic. Just goes to show that being hilarious doesn’t mean you’ll be a good comedian. Fortunately, Rahmaan didn’t let this early stumble slow him down, and he’s on an upswing that saw him perform on Conan in 2017 and nab the head writer gig at the live music game show Out of Tune . Read More Hometown: Raleigh, NC (pop. 464,758) People Think North Carolina is: “Beautiful and warm.” People don’t realize North Carolina is actually: “A near-unlivable sauna for three months out of the year.”
Andy Woodhull has some advice for aspiring comics out there: “Your first open mic will impress no girls.” Or guys, presumably! The point, obviously, is that if you want to be a comedian, you have to be ready to eat shit. Woodhull has grown beyond the eating-shit stage, racking up a string of appearances on shows like the Late Late Show with James Corden, Conan, and The Tonight Show . Woodhull exudes a kind of clean-cut, neighborly energy that has made him a popular performer at comedy festivals across the country, so welcome him to town if he makes a stop nearby. Read More Hometown: Fargo, ND (pop. 120,762) People Think North Dakota is: “Flat.” People don’t realize North Dakota is actually: “VERY flat. And also very cold. And filled with wonderful people! If you’re ever in Horace, ND, stop and visit my folks. If you’re lucky my mother will have her famous sauerkraut and noodles on the stovetop, and kuchen in the oven for dessert.”
Most of America knows North Dakota thanks to Fargo, the state’s most populous city and the title of the beloved 1996 Coen brothers movie (which mostly takes place in Minnesota). That is to say, not a lot happens in North Dakota, where Amber Preston grew up before seeking out the warmer climes of Southern California, a place that doesn’t require her to scrape her car windshield. After an open mic night in Minneapolis showed her she “wasn’t completely awful,” she became a regular at the city’s Acme Comedy Company before moving on to the bigger comedy sea of Los Angeles. She still holds on to her Midwestern roots (and her Midwestern accent), which should serve her well in a town not known for its sincerity. Read More Hometown: Cleveland, OH (pop. 385,809) People Think Ohio is: “Just corn and winter.” People don’t realize Ohio is actually: “Not Indiana.”
Mary Santora first did stand-up during an on-campus competition at the University of Toledo when she was a senior. It went well. Maybe a little bit too well. “I dropped out of college two months later because I was certain I was going to be famous and didn’t need a degree,” she said. “Don’t worry, I was humbled over the next few months with bomb after bomb in dive bars, but that first time was something truly incredible.” Despite that brush with failure, Santora kept going and has now been voted Best Female Comedian by Cleveland Scene magazine two years in a row. Meanwhile, her conversational style and material about the trials of dating and open bars has landed her on bills with the likes of Jen Kirkman. “What you need to know about me is I grew up very poor and very white trash, all right,” she starts. “How white trash? I’m basically if a Code Red Mountain Dew was a person.” Read More Hometown: Sapulpa, OK (pop. 20,928) People Think Oklahoma is: “Just an extension of Texas.” People don’t realize Oklahoma is actually: “Just an extension of Kansas.”
Comedians have to possess at least some fearlessness just to get up on stage and try to make an expectant room of people laugh, but Ryan Green uses his comedy as a vehicle to open up his guts and lay himself completely on the line. He refers to himself as “the fat one, no, the other fat one,” and has an endearing self-deprecating sense of humor delivered in a light Oklahoma drawl — it’s tough not to find yourself laughing along with him after just a few minutes. And for the record, he wants you to know that not everyone in Oklahoma lives on a ranch. Read More Hometown: Portland, OR (pop. 639,863) People Think Oregon is: “Super white.” People don’t realize Oregon is actually: “A place with a lot of creative people of color who have been doing incredible creative work through the years, which shouldn’t go unnoticed.”
One of the ways Mohanad Elshieky disarms crowds is by sharing where he’s originally from: Benghazi, Libya. Yep, the Benghazi you’ve heard about from Twitter and 16-hour C-SPAN feeds. What Elshieky does so smartly, though, is remind the audience — without scolding — that it’s really just a politicized word in America. But he goes on to use his laid-back demeanor and well-rounded experience (he went to med school and was an English teacher) to take whatever preconceived notions an audience member might have and wash them away in wave after wave of laughter. It’s why the Portland Mercury has called him an “undisputable genius of comedy.” We don’t disagree. Read More Hometown: Philadelphia, PA (pop. 1,580,863) People Think Pennsylvania is: “A state.” People don’t realize Pennsylvania is actually: “Just Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.”
At the ripe old age of 26, West Philly native Anthony Moore has already had a career comedians a decade older would give a pinky toe to have. Thanks in part to his laid-back delivery of observational jokes, sometimes about his beloved Chick-fil-A, he’s earned a spot on Kevin Hart’s Hart of the City when the Comedy Central show headed to Pennsylvania’s biggest city in 2016. Since then, Moore has made the jump to New York City, and does regular spots at legendary clubs like Comedy Cellar and Caroline’s. Read More Hometown: Newport, RI (pop. 24,779) People Think Rhode Island is: “Just the smallest state in the country.” People don’t realize Rhode Island is actually: “Largely populated with talent and has a great comedy scene!”
We wanted to choose a huge personality for the smallest state in the nation, and Andrew Williams ‘ infectious energy is veritably Texas-sized. His propulsive comedy sets touch on pop culture, gay culture, and extreme-couponing culture, a solid combination that has earned him home-state love via regular appearances on the local morning program The Rhode Show , where he shares his takes on current events and trends. Williams, who began doing stand-up eight years ago and makes good on his promise that “nothing is off-limits” at his gigs, has also landed spots on The Wendy Williams Show (no relation) and tours with Girl Code ‘s Jessimae Peluso. Read More Hometown: Charleston, SC (pop. 134,875) People Think South Carolina is: “Really conservative, which it is!” People don’t realize South Carolina is actually: “Also an amazingly fruitful mix of cultures, subcultures, traditions, religions, unwanted immigrants from Ohio, all living side by side in beautiful marshes, rural communities, sprawling countryside, small towns, packed beaches, and old cities.”
South Carolina is known more as a swamp that was also the site of the South’s instigation of the American Civil War than it is for being an intellectual breeding ground for generation after generation of progressive thinkers. Jeremy McLellan debunks those stereotypes that we just perpetuated by taking them head on, including the toxic history of race relations in the USA. How do you make the Palmetto State’s role in the Civil War funny? By pointing out that the state started the war that ended slavery, of course. He’s won several Charleston-area competitions and awards, and with his incisive take on contemporary America, he’s poised to jump to the next level. Read More Hometown: Rapid City, SD (pop. 74,509) People Think South Dakota is: “Mt. Rushmore.” People don’t realize South Dakota is actually: “Crazy Horse.”
Though he calls Denver home now, Zac Maas hails from South Dakota, which you may not be surprised to learn has limited resources to offer comedians looking to make it big. That didn’t stop Maas from pursuing a career in comedy, which he began in earnest by telling jokes in a pizza parlor, in front of an audience he calls “one of the highest crowds I have ever performed for.” Since then he’s gone on to perform alongside the likes of Gilbert Gottfried and Mike Birbiglia, and is a member of the comedy game show Uncalled Four. Read More Hometown: Nashville, TN (pop. 691,243) People Think Tennessee is: “Full of rednecks.” People don’t realize Tennessee is actually: “Full of rednecks who are also my family members.”
Laura Peek is a Tennessean through and through, having grown up there, gone to college at the University of Tennessee, and made Nashville her home. She’s only been performing for two years, but already Peek co-produces the daytime showcase Brunch of Laughs at Zanies Nashville, and has opened for the likes of Sara Schaefer, Aasif Mandvi, and Kyle Kinane. Not bad for someone still in the fetal stages of her career, and things only look to go up from here, with Peek regularly touring comedy clubs in the South, spreading her storytelling, observational style to the masses. Read More Hometown: Harlingen, TX (pop. 65,539) People Think Texas is: “Full of uneducated, gun-toting hillbillies.” People don’t realize Texas is actually: “A diverse state that’s home to a lot of wonderful people… and some hillbillies.”
There’s absolutely no chance that Maggie Maye has heard any Rod Stewart jokes in her life. The Texas comedian got her start at an Austin joint called the Velveeta Room, which is an excellent name for a venue. Since this auspicious debut, Maye has built her reputation in the state capital, long a hotbed for artists and creative types: She’s performed at SXSW, done Conan , and been named 2016’s Best of Austin Stand-Up Comic by The Austin Chronicle . Now that she’s decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue comedy on a bigger stage, you may find yourself thinking of her instead of Rod Stewart the next time you hear “Maggie Maye” mentioned. Read More Hometown: Fillmore, UT (pop. 2,491) People Think Utah is: “Very religious and full of Mormons.” People don’t realize Utah is actually: “Very religious and full of Mormons… but also one of the gayest, most-tattooed states in the nation.”
In case you haven’t noticed, Shayne Smith is covered in tattoos. A former gang member, he’s hardly taken the typical route to a career in comedy, but those harder-living days and a misspent youth growing up in ultra-religious Utah have provided him with a lot to mine. After bombing so hard the first time he got up in 2010, Smith didn’t try again for four years, but he’s been on an upward rise ever since, winning the Salt City Comedy Superstar competition in 2015 and being named Best Alternative Comedian of 2016 by City Weekly . His one-hour special, intriguingly titled ” Prison for Wizards ,” showcases his sometimes surreal sensibility that we expect to see a lot more of. Read More Hometown: Burlington, VT (pop. 43,552) People Think Vermont is: “Full of hipsters, emos, rednecks, and farmers.” People don’t realize Vermont is actually: “Full of white people.”
You’re reading that right: Tarzan Jenkins ‘ name is, in fact, Tarzan, as in the Edgar Rice Burroughs character who’s been famous for more than a century. Ever since an open mic performance where he shared a story about masturbating while on shrooms, Tarzan has branched out into the Vermont comedy scene, doing charity events like Comic Relief Burlington and competing in the Vermont’s Funniest Comedian contest. He also has time to be a father to five (you read that right: 5!) children, which sounds exhausting! Read More Hometown: Richmond, VA (pop. 227,032) People Think Virginia is: “One state.” People don’t realize Virginia is actually: “Two states that tolerate each other in order to retain in-state tuition.”
Mary Jane French is right about in-state tuition — Virginia residents get a very good bang for their buck! But let’s talk about comedy. French has been performing since she was 18, but took a hiatus when she accepted that she needed to transition. Since then, she says she has been “unleashing gender chaos upon the world, one set at a time,” and it’s difficult not to become enamored of her honesty, vulnerability, and just how damn funny she is. Her comedy often deals with her early experiences transitioning, and her willingness to leave nothing off the table makes every set a lively one. Read More Hometown: Seattle, WA (pop. 704,352) People Think Washington is: “Really liberal.” People don’t realize Washington is actually: “A very conservative state once you leave the greater Seattle area.”
The first time he did comedy, Wilfred Padua bombed so hard, it scared him off stand-up for two whole years. “Not one joke was good,” he recalls. He fared better his second time up. Since then, he’s found a niche with his impish, soft-spoken delivery and observational, often self-deprecating jokes about race, sex, and Seattle stilt-walkers. To completely drive home the point that you shouldn’t let a disastrous first try derail your dreams, Padua recently made the decision to leave his hometown behind and pursue a comedy career in New York City. Read More Hometown: Fairmont, WV (pop. 18,622) People Think West Virginia is: “Not notable.” People don’t realize West Virginia is actually: “The birthplace of Mother’s Day, the pepperoni roll, and the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.”
“Unicorn” is one of those words that gets tossed around a lot in executive-level emails and venture capital meetings, but Kasha Patel might be one in real life. She’s a science writer for NASA — as in, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration — and comedy is what she does in her spare time. Science and comedy go hand-in-hand with Patel’s act, and she’s founded DC Science Comedy , producing a regular show where only science-based jokes, stories, and bits are allowed. What have YOU done with your life? Read More Hometown: Madison, WI (pop. 255,214) People Think Wisconsin is: “A flyover state.” People don’t realize Wisconsin is actually: “Actually really important to visit. Just ask Hillary.”
Speaking of comedians who are accomplished in other areas of life, meet Johnny Walsh , a lawyer by trade who has a congenital condition that leads to blindness and hearing loss. That unique combination gives Walsh a ton of material to mine for his sets, which he performs around the Madison area ever since his 2010 debut at an open mic at the Argus Bar & Grill, where he says there were maybe 10 people in attendance. Now he’s the proud winner of Madison’s Funniest Comic for 2018. Read More Hometown: Cheyenne, WY (pop. 64,019) People Think Wyoming is: “A beautiful place that they have only seen in pictures.” People don’t realize Wyoming is actually: “Even better in person, so I recommend taking a trip to Wyoming. There aren’t that many people in the state, but they are the nicest, most genuine people you will ever meet!”
Last alphabetically and in population, plus the home state of Dick Cheney, Wyoming doesn’t get a lot of love and attention in lists involving the United States. But we will not overlook the (checks Wikipedia) Equality State and/or the Cowboy State! Brandt Tobler won’t be offended; he says that not only were there no comedy clubs in Wyoming, there weren’t even open mics. Which meant that the first time Tobler did comedy was in the back room of a dive bar called Boomers in Las Vegas. Despite the lack of resources in his home state, Tobler has risen through the comedy ranks to host a podcast called The 31 , and even has a best-selling memoir, Free Roll , to his name. A fitting representative for an oft-overlooked state. Read More Editors: Anthony Schneck, John Sellers Writers: Leanne Butkovic, Dan Jackson, Anthony Schneck, Esther Zuckerman Production: Pete Dombrosky, Kyler Alvord, Sadie Bell, Alex Erdekian Video: Justin Lundstrom, Stasia Tomlinson, Leo Fernandez, Emily Tufaro, Ede Bell Crowder, Daniel Byrne Special thanks: Liz Childers, Andrew Husband, Matt Patches CREATIVE Creative Director: Tom O’Quinn Art Director: Ted McGrath Photo Director: Drew Swantak Photographers: COLE SALADINO (BRANDON JACKSON, SARAH SQUIRM, EMMA WILLMANN, JORDAN KLEINE, KHALID RAHMAAN, SHAYNE SMITH, KASHA PATEL), JESSICA EBELHAR (MANDEE MCKELVEY), KYLE JACKSON (MARCELLA ARGUELLO), MATT NAGER (ZAC MAAS), QUINN RUSSELL BROWN (MOHANAD ELSHIEKY), JEFF WALTON (RITA BRENT) Motion Designer: Megan Chong
Mom, why didn’t you tell me your job was so hard?
Mom, why didn’t you tell me your job was so hard? Published by Courtney Moser on October 11, 2018 11 Vote up!
Wine bars, weekend getaways and … diaper wipes?
Hi, I’m a millennial mom. According to the internet, I should be backpacking around foreign countries and writing essays about self-care. I should be posting Instagram photos with mimosas on exotic beaches or so focused on my job that I’m researching freezing my eggs.
Instead, I had a baby in my twenties.
We’ve all seen the headlines about women shifting away from marriage and waiting longer to have children. Now, I’ve experienced it in the lingering loneliness and disconnect as friends counter my sleepless baby woes with hungover stories of calling in sick at work. I’ve laughed but felt the distance grow as people comment “I can barely take care of myself – much less another human being!” Because that’s the core of it, right? Why would I purposely choose to give up my comfortable life; to hand over my freedom to an irrational tiny human?
I didn’t go into motherhood naively – or so I thought. In fact, I laughably even felt confident. I was the oldest of four and I’d babysat plenty of little ones. I was excited to follow in my mother’s footsteps and add more joy into the family. But even so, I was blindsided by nearly every situation and every emotion that resulted (and I’m not even going to get into the hormones, oye!). About a month after my son was born, I was still recovering physically and emotionally. I was getting sleep only in increments of a few hours at a time. The extent of my brain activity was wondering things like “is it possible to die from a lack of sleep?” and “is it normal that he cries so much?” I was struggling with nursing and my baby was struggling with reflux. I was like most new mothers out there: completely overwhelmed, exhausted and anxiety-ridden.
“Why didn’t you tell me it was so hard?” I accused my mom, who had always made it seem effortless. Why didn’t anyone warn me? How were we possibly going to survive this? She laughed and said she’d asked her mom the same thing after having me. The reality is that everything worth anything in life is hard. And yes, as a millennial, I recognize the humor in even saying that. My generation is notorious for wanting life to come easy; for normalizing immediate gratification, digital dating and one-day shipping. We’re an impatient culture. And there’s nothing that tests your patience more than a newborn.
In our society, we either seem to avoid motherhood or over-glorify it. If you don’t have kids, you’re going to spin class and brunch and making backhanded comments about those who do. On the flip side, if you do have kids, your social media persona includes perfect hair, babies who somehow smile on command and sickeningly sweet captions. What about the rest of us in real life? What about the moms who try to meet for coffee only to slink out after a meltdown or blowout? Or the moms who rush home from a meeting only to be met with a grumpy baby because it’s the afternoon witching hour? We fuel debates between moms vs. not moms or working moms vs. stay-at-home moms, but all we really need is to give each other grace – there are hardships down every path.
I got just as caught up in my preparation for motherhood. I read the books. I imagined life as an Instagram mom. I wanted to puree all of my own organic vegetables but also embody the carefree French mother figure I read about. I decided that my baby would be flexible and he’d love “adult food” and traveling. He’d respond perfectly to sleep training — or maybe he wouldn’t even need it! I created the perfect vision of myself as a mom before I was actually a mom. And then it all changed. My baby was born and he annihilated everything I’d ever known in the best way. He immediately tested my patience, filled me with love and anxiety and every other emotion in the world.
So, Mom, why didn’t you tell me it was so hard? Because it wouldn’t have made a difference. I still would have chosen motherhood over backpacking adventures or boozy brunches. I can enjoy all of that later – but now, I have a toddler to run after. And that’s the shocking, awe-inspiring secret of motherhood: There’s no way to prepare and there’s nothing anyone can say to actually describe it. It alters your concept of time and your purpose. There’s nothing more simultaneously scary and beautiful. It’s so hard because it matters.
Related video: This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us ! Because we’re all in this together. Courtney Moser
How Saga Comics Artist Fiona Staples Drew a Masterpiece
A page from Saga . Photo: Courtesy of Image Comics / Fiona Staples, Fonografiks The comics industry owes a debt of gratitude to Fiona Staples. The artist joined up with famed writer Brian K. Vaughan in the early part of this decade to create one of the most effective gateway drugs for comics novices ever printed: the ongoing Image Comics series Saga . Vaughan is the first to admit that this sci-fi/fantasy epic relies heavily on the arresting visuals of Staples, especially her covers and the astounding first pages she produces for every issue. The ninth collected volume of the story was released earlier this month, and we got in touch with Staples to talk about the series’ origins. Not only did she open up with us, she was also kind enough to provide us with sketches for that first issue and an early version of the first page, which we named as one of the 100 most influential comics pages in North American history. You can read our written conversation and see the artwork below.
How did you and Brian first encounter one another, and how did that lead to the creation of Saga ?
Brian had seen some of my previous work, and just emailed me one day in 2011 when he was ready to pitch Saga ! We’d never met before, but it immediately felt like an easy and exciting partnership.
What were your guiding philosophies in coming up with the character designs and overall visual feel for the series?
The world of Saga is about as broad as reality itself, so pretty much anything goes. Alongside the rocket ships and magic swords, there are smartphones and ATMs. My approach is to keep everything vaguely based in reality, so when we have a new planet or creature they’re usually inspired by animals and earthly locations. Brian first conceived this universe when he was a school-aged kid, so I want to keep that feeling of humor and whimsy.
How long did it take you to hammer out what you wanted Saga to look like?
I spent a little while doing concept art before getting the script for No. 1, but once we jumped in, there was no longer time to do much preliminary work! Almost everything since then has just been designed on the page.
Slide to view before and after comparison Do you remember what the script’s description of that first page was?
I don’t need to remember because I can paste it right here!
Page One, SPLASH
We open tight on a PROFILE SHOT of the right side of a panicked young woman’s face. We’re so close that her head fills almost the entire page.
This is ALANA, our heroine. She’s probably only in her early 20s, but her face is world- weary. She’s seen a hell of a lot in her years. Right now, Alana is SWEATING profusely; her face is slick. Her short-cropped, multi-colored hair is even more of a mess than usual. At the moment, Alana is a little heavier than she normally likes to be, but it lends a friendly softness to her face.
At first glance, Alana might appear to be an attractive human woman… but eventually, you notice the STRANGE THINGS jutting out from between her shoulder blades, strange things we can see only a glimpse of in this close-up. More on them shortly.
For now, all that matters is the fact that Alana seems terribly WORRIED about something. Her expression should be a mixture of horror and embarrassment.
1) Handwritten Narration: This is how an idea becomes real.
2) Alana: Am I shitting?
3) Alana: It feels like I’m shitting!
What did you physically use to draw that first page? What was your work space like?
I used an iMac and a Cintiq tablet, and my work space was a table in my old apartment. Digital art doesn’t demand a lot of space.
How did you approach drawing that first page? Did you model it on anything? Were there lots of drafts?
Just the one thumbnail sketch! This was an important page, being our opening, but it was also one out of 44 in our oversized first issue. I was more worried about tackling the space garage and big fight scene that the next few pages held.
How arduous a process was it to draw the first issue?
It was pretty slow going because we were seeing all the characters, tech, and settings for the first time, so they all had to be designed. I remember being worried that I’d make a poor design choice and be stuck drawing something I hated for another 20 issues.
Was it your decision to hand-letter Hazel’s narration? And is that just your normal handwriting style, or something you concocted for the comic?
That was Brian’s suggestion, and it is my naturally childlike handwriting!
How do you think your overall style has evolved since the first issue?
I think my inking has gotten a bit more refined, and the angles on people a bit softer. I’ve added new painting programs and brushes to my digital art arsenal, and generally improved my workflow to get a more polished-looking page in the same amount of time.
Do you ever revisit the first issue? If so, what do you think of it? Or learn from it?
I often have to look through old issues for reference, and it’s always slightly hard on the eyes! If anything, I’ve learned that it’s okay for the look of the comic to evolve over time, and if I want to make any stylistic changes to improve the art, probably no one will notice or care. My fear of being nailed down to a bad design decision that I made years ago was for nothing. It’s never too late to fix stuff.
Tags: vulture homepage lede saga comics sequential art fiona staples How Saga Comics Artist Fiona Staples Drew a Masterpiece 6 8 22 mins ago