by Ryan Meehan
After jumping head-first onto the comedy scene in Los Angeles, Heather Turman has become a favorite at clubs across the country, including: Flapper’s Comedy Club, Madhouse Comedy Club and The World Famous Comedy Store. She was featured at Idaho Laugh Fest in 2014 and she can be seen on Nuvo TV’s “Stand Up and Deliver,” and on the DVD special “The Gay List.” She is a contributing writer for the west coast magazine, “LGBT Weekly,” and her web-series, “Conversations with Future Stars” was a finalist at LA Webfest last year. We are glad to have her as our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: You started out in LA hitting the clubs at open mics I assume…Do you think that since it’s the largest market in the country for comedy that it was actually easier to achieve your goals due to the fact that where you wanted to be was always right in front of you?
HT: Yes and no. Yes, considering I was living in a city full of opportunity for comedy it was certainly a luxury to have countless shows at my fingertips every night of the week, as opposed to other cities where you’re lucky to get on stage two to three times a week. However, it was hard to rise up I think in Los Angeles. I was finding my stage presence and so I had to work really hard to prove that I was there to stay – whereas other comics started in other cities, had defined their acts, and then moved to LA. Those comics knew who they were so right when they arrived it was easier I think to say, “Hey, I’m here. This is my act. Let’s get me on the big shows.”
RM: Could you tell us a little bit about “The Young, Hot, & Gay” Comedy Tour that you’re currently involved with? What can you tell us about the other two comics on that bill?
HT: The tour consists of myself, Jordan Pease and Tara Egnatios. The three of us have shared the stage on numerous different occasions in LA, and we all wanted to hit the road and together we found that we had a niche (being young and gay for example, the hot part is up for debate!). Though, at the same time we are incredibly different on stage. So when you go see the show it’s not three of the same. We started in Ventura, California in January and then hit Boise, Denver, Nashville, Lexington, Chicago, Novi and Lansing. Now we are heading out on the last leg of the tour which includes Columbus, St. Louis, Springfield, Kansas City, Des Moines and Omaha.
RM: I’ve read columns and statements before that suggest that in order for LGBT rights to progress; straight people need to be a part of the movement. At somebody who writes a column for a publication that promotes equality, does it depress you a little bit that we live in a society that is willing to let every other cause slide when it comes to self-interest but then act as if human rights are something that exist separately and needs to have its own “straight public relations department”? How does a culture get out of the rut that is such a stalwart method of thinking?
HT: I actually think that if more straight people were involved things would progress at a quicker pace. But that is only because it’s hard to educate and change opinions when you are segregated. If straight people are the majority making all of the decisions, then it’s imperative that they get on board with the human rights movement or it will move at a glacial pace. Ultimately in order for culture in general to move forward we need to just recognize that people are one, human rights includes everyone, and we need to stop putting people into different groups. We’ve done it with race and gender for generations and now people are doing it with sexuality. Anytime you categorize people you are creating a detriment to society because you stop viewing them as people.
RM: When it comes to testing out new material…How do you go about trying new jokes while you are on tour? Do you frequently change up your set list from time to time; or do you like to keep it consistent?
HT: I like to keep it consistent, so when I want to try new material I slip it into a section of my act where it makes sense, where it’s surrounded by concepts I know work. Then if it goes over well I can keep it there and begin to grow it by adding tags and such.
RM: What do we need to know about your web series “Conversations with Future Stars”? How did you come up with that idea and who are some of the people you’ve had on the show?
HT: That was such an incredible project. It came about when my friend (co-producer and co-star) Chris Manitius and I were tossing around ideas of working together. He’s an actor and I do comedy so we decided on doing a comedic web-series. Then, of course, the actual premise of the series was organic in the sense that we were at a bar and Chris said something that made me go, “That’s it! That’s our show!” It follows two narcissists as they navigate their way through Hollywood, doing anything and everything to get “seen.” Though of course they always fall victim to their own schemes. We had amazing guest talent – comedians Dante and Rebekah Kochan, Hollywood dynamo Amy Lyndon and funny-lady Heidi Neidermeyer. All were really fantastic and we were so fortunate to have them.
RM: I interview a lot of comedians, and it seems like almost every single one of them have their own podcast. I notice that you don’t have one…Is there a particular reason for this, or do you just use the web series as that extra creative outlet? Do you have any interest in doing web radio any time soon?
HT: They all really DO have podcasts! I have gotten asked this before – and it’s not that I’m opposed to the idea, I certainly would love to be involved with one, it’s just that I haven’t found a subject I feel is original enough that I’m passionate about to center a show around. There are tons of comedy podcasts, so if and when I decide to take one on it has to be mine and mine only, you know? I don’t want to just do the same old thing. It’s got to be different.
RM: What’s the most difficult lesson you’ve learned about life from doing comedy? Was it hard to accept at first or did you embrace it from the beginning?
HT: That unfortunately in a lot of ways it still is a man’s world out there. I think women are making astronomical progress in comedy, but at the end of the day men still sell out more and men seem to make most of the decisions. I have found it particularly difficult because I sometimes watch as female comics flirt their way onto bigger shows, and since I’m gay I find I can’t really get away with that. That realization was hard to accept but once I did I think I grew a bigger pair of balls and said “So what! I can do it on my own!” And that’s why I put together this tour, and that’s what I’m trying to do.
RM: What’s up next for you in 2014? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
HT: I was a part of a killer cast (including Jay Mohr and Artie Lange) for a mockumentary called “Archie Black: The Worst” written by my funny friend Dave Sirus last year. That is on the festival circuit so I’m excited to see what happens with that. Otherwise I am working on a book and I hope to finish it in 2014.
Official Website: http://heatherbrained.com/
Heather on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/heatherturman
Heather on Twitter: https://twitter.com/heatherturman
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