Q&A: UA Alumna takes the comedic stage
The Daily Wildcat talked with University of Arizona alumna Aubree Sweeney, a graduate from 2011, about her career in comedy. Sweeney, based out of Los Angeles, does lots of traveling as she goes on comedy tours and prepares for performances. She will be performing at several locations in Tucson October 11-13.
The Daily Wildcat: Why did you choose to go to the UA?
Aubree Sweeney: I actually went to UA for, well, a few reasons. One, that it is just the most beautiful school ever. It was just really great, I just fell in love with the campus. I also twirled baton, so I actually ended up being on the baton line while I was there, so I was part of the Pride of Arizona. That was like a huge extra, so it was just kind of the perfect everything for what I wanted: I wanted to twirl baton and I wanted an English degree.
DW: When did you first start doing comedy?
AS: I started doing comedy, oh jeez, professionally, it’s been about six years. But before that, I was doing comedy as an amateur. I moved out to California initially, I got my master's degree in screenwriting, and then from there I went through The Upright Citizens Brigade for improv training, and then that kind of ended up leading me into the world of stand up comedy, and it was just a really great fit. So I just stayed with it.
DW: Who are some comedians that you enjoy and/or look up to?
AS: Probably, one of the most inspirational comedians for me is, or was, Phyllis Diller. She was kind of like my comedy role model. I’m just really, really impressed with her, and she’s kind of similar to, I would say, what my style is most like: kind of zany. I’m a really huge fan of Maria Bamford and also Bobbie Oliver. Bobbie Oliver is a working comedian in Los Angeles, and she is just a wonderful human, and she’s doing a lot of stuff for women in comedy, which is really cool.
DW: Do you find that there are a lot of women in comedy?
AS: There are a lot more women in comedy than there used to be, for sure, but ... it’s not really like an even 50-50. There’s more and more women, I feel, doing it now than ever, but we’re still kind of a minority.
DW: What did your parents think about you becoming a comedian?
AS: They’ve always been very supportive. They were just as supportive of me deciding to get an English literature degree as comedy. Just 100 percent. Yeah, I lucked out. I hit the jackpot with parents, because they’ve been supportive all the way.
DW: How did you know that you were funny, that you should go into comedy?
AS: You know, that’s a really, really great question, because I didn’t. I just had no idea. If it wouldn’t have been for an instructor that I had at Upright Citizens Brigade saying "Aubree, your monologues are really funny. You should try an open mic," it wouldn’t have even crossed my mind. It’s funny now that I am a professional comedian. I’ll see people, especially when I’m performing in Omaha, that [knew] me from elementary school, and they’ll say "Oh yeah, this just makes sense, you were always so funny," and I just really ... if it wasn’t for Joel Spence [it] probably ... wouldn’t have been something that crossed my mind.
DW: How would you describe your sense of humor?
AS: Oh, quirky ... It’s observational. I look at everyday life things, and those are the things that I talk about, but just kind of through like, you know, goofy glasses I guess, just a goofy view of the world.
DW: What’s your favorite joke?
AS: My favorite joke? Oh man, like, ever? Favorite joke? That is, like, the hardest interview question I’ve ever had. My grandpa, this is a terrible joke, he’s going to kill me for sharing this. He had this joke that was so stupid, and I loved it so much it’s making me really nostalgic again. Like I said, I’m in Nebraska, but, it was like, this guy went to a bar, and he brought his kid with him. But his kid was just a head or something, and then the kid was like, "I want pop rocks and diet pepsi!" And then the guy’s like, "No, you don’t want it," and then the kid drank it and the guy was like "You should have stopped while you were a head." It’s really stupid, like, worst joke ever, but my grandpa used to tell it all the time, and I don’t know. It was funny when he said it.
DW: Have you ever had a tough audience?
AS: Yes. Absolutely. It’s different when you have audiences who maybe like you but they’re quiet sometimes. You have the quiet audience, and that’s always hard to do. A lot of times you’re kind of blinded by the light when you’re on stage. So you’re not really positive, you can’t see their eyes, like if they’re smiling with their eyes or not. Also those can be kind of hard, but I always feel like the easiest way if you’re feeling like you have a tough crowd or you’re not feeling like you’re connecting with the audience that you can just talk to them. Just make it more about crowd work and try to get on the same page.
DW: Why did you decide to go on tour?
AS: I love to travel ... I was permanently in Los Angeles for about six years and I love California. It’s amazing, but I just felt like I was missing out on travel. I decided to give up my apartment, and I bought an R.V. and just did it, pretty much, and it’s been great. I’ve been on the road doing this whole crazy, hippy R.V. thing for about almost two years, and it’s been great because I have the opportunity to come home for the summer, and then I get to enjoy winters in the warm weather. I’m leaving Nebraska just in time to get to Arizona without having to be cold or put on a coat, and so it’s fun.
DW: Are you excited to come back to Tucson?
AS: I am. I am super excited. I actually haven't been back since I graduated, so I’m super, super excited. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with friends who still live there, and it’s going to be great. One of my friends just had a baby, so I’m really, really looking forward to getting out there and catching up, and ... just going to all the places. Plus, it’s Halloween, so I’ll have to go to Old Tucson.
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