Emma KennedyComedianLos Angeles, CAStory and Photos by Lauri Levenfeld
I may be a teensy bit won over by Emma Kennedy (she IS family ), but outside of bloodlines Emma shines like a star in every way. With a heart of gold, this girl has the power of women in tow. If she wasn’t out to make the world laugh first, she would be saving the lives of innocent women forced into trafficking and slavery (a calling she will soon answer). And anyone who would jump into an RV ready to tour the country (as a comedian and for the first times on stage) is a badass in my eyes in every way.
1.Tell us about yourself and your passion for your work.
I love acting and I’ve done theatre my whole life. I even have a BFA in Acting, which I see as basically four years of fantasy reality where I got to express myself- laugh, cry, drink, and sing show tunes with my fraaaands (thanks Mom and Dad). I made the big move to LA because that’s what you do after theatre school (well, most people move to New York but I grew up in Wisconsin and…). I did what every new aspiring actor does when they move to LA which is sign up for actors access and LA casting and start submitting myself for auditions. I found that auditions were easy to come by. Getting my ass out the door however, wasn’t. Excuses came easy; I was “tired” from working over 50 hours a week as a nanny. I acquired a new boyfriend and I wanted to spend time with him (which was, obviously, a disaster).
|Most frequently, I hated the way that parts for women were written. After almost two years of lying to myself and only going on ONE audition, I decided to give it all up and go back to school to earn an MFA in Marriage and Family Therapy. I was happy with this decision but also sad to be giving up something I loved my whole life.
I needed a fix and I always thought stand up was one of the bravest art forms and I wanted to be brave. So I did it. My first show was 9 months ago and I’ve never looked back. The best part of stand up comedy is that you get a reaction right away. The worst part of stand up comedy is that you get a reaction right away. Of all of the performing I’ve done my whole life, I have never felt higher than when I have a great show. The feeling can keep me in the clouds for days.
It would have been easy for me to feel like a failure when I decided to go back to school. But resilience lies in your ability to adapt and the same is true for stand up comedy.
2. What is it like to be on a comedic tour? Where do you find inspiration?
After two and a half years of spinning my wheels, feeling like I was doing nothing to advance my creative career, being on tour feels like paradise. I wish everyone had the opportunity to do this. Imagine grabbing three of your best friends, piling into an RV, and doing your favorite thing every night for three weeks. The downsides to tour life? We smell bad and you have to plan out your bowel movements because we have a strict “No Pooping on the RV” rules.
Like any other artistic endeavor, inspiration can be found anywhere. One of the million things we love about being on tour is that our days can be spent writing.
|3. With 4 women & 2 men on your tour, you seem to be ruling the roost- is this a trend?
Women are on top of the comedy scene right now. I think Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Maya Rudolf, and the women of SNL in the mid-2000’s helped cement the shift. Now we have Amy Schumer blowing up, Julia Louis-Dreyfus deservedly, winning Emmy after Emmy. We have Mindy Kaling, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer of Broad City and for the first time even I feel like the list could go on and on. We didn’t plan on a tour full of women, we just picked the best people we knew and they happened to be women. I yearn for the day when a tour full of women isn’t remarkable.
4.What has been your most challenging moment on tour? Your most rewarding?
The most challenging aspect of this tour is the financial one. Much of our pre-departure planning time was spent trying to get corporate sponsors. We wanted their money and in return we would use our influence on social media to advertise for them. We couldn’t get anyone to bite so we begrudgingly turned to gofundme (we are still accepting donations at) and relied on the generosity of our friends and family. We also threw a launch party fundraiser that proved fruitful. We never expected to make money on this tour but now we’re just hoping to break even.
The most rewarding moment is every day that we get to wake up and know we have another day of writing and performing. We’re actually super annoying about how happy we are. Not an hour goes by without someone saying “I love our lives/ I never want this to end/ Guys, this is really happening/ Guys, we’re doing it.” We’re doing what we love with the people we love. We are the luckiest.
5. How does comedy help you see the world clearer?
I think any great comic is able to take a complicated issue and boil it down to it’s simplest form: a digestible nugget of re-worded truth that can be spoken into a microphone and sent into the dark room of anticipation before us. Seeing the world through this lens doesn’t make us superhuman, it makes us honest. Being on stage under a spotlight is the equivalent of taking truth serum in front of a pack of wild dogs: if you lie, they’ll know, and they’ll growl at you. We have to be honest with ourselves before we can be truly honest with audiences. And that one-sided conversation of truth can only exist if there is a constant chipping away at what makes us all laugh, guffaw, or gasp. As a comic and writer, your brain goes into a sort of info-gathering and translating mode as you encounter any sort of stimulus. There are universal aspects of the human experience that make even the most seemingly diverse people come together: we all eat food. We need sleep. We fear rejection. We fall in love. We break hearts. We get our hearts broken. We miss what we lose. We lose what we miss hanging onto. Instead of giving up on figuring it out, we try to find words to form sentences into complete thoughts that other people’s ears will welcome in as “I have felt this. I know what you mean, thank you for getting it and for getting me. That’s funny. Oh that is sad, how embarrassing for you, but thank you for saying it because I have been there.” Then the conversation becomes two-sided, a back and forth. And that, to me, is the most beautiful view.
6. If you weren’t doing comedy, where would you be? Or Where do you see yourself in five years?
I’ve had two fires under my ass my whole life and they both burn equally bright. One is performing and the other is helping to heal the wounds sexism and inequality has left behind. When I fantasize about my future life and career it looks like this; I host The Daily Show during the week and on the weekends I’m carrying victims of sex trafficking out of brothels with my own hands. Sex trafficking is the most despicable and most ignored crime of this century. It generates billions upon billions of dollars every year and not enough people know or care about it. I hope to be a part of changing that. I know significant change won’t happen in my lifetime. It’s too big a beast to slay. The best we can do is keep moving forward. Laying one brick today, after all, is one less we have to lay tomorrow. Eventually, we’ll have a wall.
Tour Dates for Comedy Tour, The Comedy Tour :
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 28
SUNDAY NOVEMBER 1
MONDAY NOVEMBER 2
WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 4
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 6
SUNDAY NOVEMBER 8
THE TOUR: Four up-and-coming comics hit the road for their first comedy tour up the West Coast. With shows in everything from hallowed comedy clubs to dive bars to colleges to a church to a football locker room, these four will RV their way from San Diego to Seattle spreading laughs and love to anyone who will listen.
JOHNNO WILSON: Stand-up comedian best known for his character and impressions in sketches on Funny or Die, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Lifetime’s Prank My Mom and VH1’s Stevie TV. He performs stand-up at The Improv in Hollywood and performs improv at The Groundlings, The UCB and IO West.
JENNA BRISTER: Spent her 20’s in NYC doing improv at the UCB Theatre and telling stories with The Moth. Now in LA, she performs regularly at The Hollywood Improv where she hosts an on-stage talk show called The Chatterbox and is a student/performer at The Groundlings.
EMMA KENNEDY: A student of The Upright Citizens Brigade. Can be seen regularly performing in LA at The Comedy Store and Flappers Comedy Club.
ADAM CESCHIN: An LA based comic who performs with The UCB (NY & LA), The Groundlings, writes and stars in Schmabernet at IO West, The Moth, and is a regular at The Hollywood Improv.