Kerrilynn Gallagher brings uber-relatable comedy to Valley stages, tackling serious real world topics like entering your 30s and dealing with 401ks and giving them comedic spins that keep audiences laughing. The 30-year-old Paradise Valley resident just started sharing her stand-up with audiences this year, but she’s already established herself in the scene, performing in Flagstaff and at places such as Monkey Pants and Dos Gringos in Tempe and Chop and Wok in Scottsdale.
The comic, who works at a healthcare IT firm during the day, is competing in Stand Up Scottsdale‘s comedy showcase this Wednesday, November 11, at 7:30 p.m. Gallagher shared what inspires her sets and how she hopes to impact audiences, and you can hear her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.
What brought you to Arizona?
Like any girl, a guy I met brought me to Arizona. I went to ASU, played lacrosse and double-majored in psychology and marketing. While I was out here finishing my degree, I met an incredible guy who kept me out here.
I was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania — the greatest place on earth.
What’s your earliest memory of being interested in stand-up comedy?
Being a loser in middle school, I didn’t have many friends. On Saturday nights, I would be home alone watching, who I considered, my best friends” Molly Shannon, Cheri Oteri and Ana Gasteyer [of Saturday Night Live]. Being that I was such a looney toon in middle school and got made fun of a lot, I used comedy as a shield to show I didn’t care that girls and guys made fun of me. I would use comedy to beat them to the punch line. Because they made fun of what I looked like and what I was wearing, I would use comedy to make fun of myself first. That way, they would laugh with me instead of laugh at me.
I loved the physical comedy of SNL in the late ʾ90s, and I always wanted to write and do what those amazing women did.
How has your stand-up performance evolved?
I started performing recently, in March. I guess I needed that confidence which came with turning 30. It’s still new to me, but I’ve always loved comedy. I genuinely love making people laugh and being up there.
I started out doing open mics at Stand Up Scottsdale, which I still do. Through that experience and getting some stage time at The Taffy Room, I won one of the showcases this summer and got to be an opener for a headliner who came through Stand Up Scottsdale, Mark Normand. That was pretty awesome. Mark is hilarious, and he was on Amy Schumer‘s last tour as one of her openers, which is why I wanted the opportunity to get some stage time with him. He’s legit. You talk about seeing a professional comedian who is confident up there with his delivery and switches up his jokes enough night from night to keep it fresh and new — he’s a consummate professional, a reminder of what a true comedian is.
I’ve also performed at Monkey Pants and at a backyard show run by a stand-up comic named Anthony Lacapa. I try to do open mics as much as possible. I’m a huge fan of Stand Up Scottsdale’s open mics Wednesday nights, Dos Gringos in Tempe on Tuesday’s, and Chop and Wok in Scottsdale on Thursday’s. My goal is to get to at least two a week. It should probably be more.
What inspires your stand-up?
I get inspired by what’s happening in my daily life, which happens to be pretty commonplace stuff for most 30-year-olds. When I am inspired, I try to go a little bit deeper to a place I didn’t think of. For example, in a recent set, I talked about how I recently got engaged. A lot of people can relate to that, but I took that relatable scenario to a really random place. I talked about not being scared of marriage and instead listed off a bunch things that scare me more. My biggest goal whenever I’m on stage is to tell stories that are relatable and random.
I have a writing time, where I’ll look at what I’m writing and go into that editing mode. As far as being creative, I always get inspiration when I go to bed and am ready to relax. When I’m relaxed is when I usually get funny thoughts. When I feel that creative writing come on, I’ll get out of bed and write.
How would you characterize yourself as a performer?
As a performer, I try to be my authentic self. I’m not going into crazy voices or getting super-animated on stage, because that’s not who I am. I mean, I’m a goofball, but when I’m on stage, you’re pretty much going to see who I am .
How do you hope to impact people who see your stand-up comedy?
I want people to be like, “Oh, cool, I’ve got a girlfriend. She knows what I’m going through, she gets it.” I want people to think, “OK, my stresses and insecurities are valid and normal, and I’m not a weirdo.”
What are your goals?
For next year, I want to get some solid videos, then I am blanketing the 2016 comedy festival circuit with them. I am getting my name out there, and my goal is to hone up two or three really good sets, get them on video, start submitting them, and see how it goes. Ideally I would want to have a solid 30 minutes.
Long-term, the middle school Kerrilynn in me says, “I’m going to make it big!” The logical side of me thinks maybe I can hone this craft and turn into a good host and maybe host locally for headliners who come through the Valley. All I can do is keep working hard and keep the dream alive.
How would you characterize the Valley’s stand-up comedy scene? What do we have going for us, and what could be improved upon?
The stand-up comedy scene is attainable here and easily accessible for all levels — from people who are novices to people who moved here from New York City. There are so many open mics, and people here welcome you. I feel like in so many other places in bigger cities across the country, it’s so much more tight-knit and competitive to the point where it’s just not fun. You go to an open mic and put your name in a raffle, and there’s only a 10 percent chance you’ll even get drawn to get stage time. In Phoenix, there is so much opportunity to grow, and no matter what night of the week it is, you can find an open mic and get time.
I do wish shows would start on time. I don’t think this is a problem specific to the Valley, but if you go to any open mic or headlining show, they never start on time, ever.
Where is your favorite place in the Valley to perform stand-up?
Stand Up Scottsdale. It’s not big enough where you feel removed from the crowd, and I also feel it’s the best experience for the guest. There is no two-drink minimum, or something where you have to buy a $45 collectible glass drink if you want to get refills of Diet Coke. It’s my favorite stage to be on.
As a female comedian, do you feel like there are any specific challenges you experience in the scene?
I would say in anything where men dominate, you might have to work a little bit harder, and that’s OK. As a female comic in the Valley, I don’t feel any type of bias because I’m female. There’s a nice sisterhood, which is cool.
I’ve heard horror stories about scenes in New York and L.A. where the guys are always helping each other out, doing writing sessions, and the girls won’t even look each other in the eyes. I’ve always had girlfriends, and I feel like it’s so great to have a sisterhood to help each other out. That’s how it is here.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to try out stand-up comedy?
Don’t get discouraged. Just keep going up. It’s like muscle memory in sports — the more times you go up, the more comfortable you’re going to feel, the better you’re going to relate to the audience, and the better your delivery is going to be. Don’t ever quit, and get up as much as you can.
Why would you encourage people to watch you do stand-up comedy?
I’d like to think I offer a different perspective on being 30 years old and diving into a new phase of my life. I have relevant things to say about lots of different things and try to keep it new and fresh.