Meet Jo Firestone

Jo Firestone is a comedian and producer based in Brooklyn, NY. She creates and hosts several alt. comedy shows including The Incredible Game Show Showcase, Punderdome 3000, and Friends of Single People, among many others. Jo was recently named one of Brooklyn Magazine’s 30 Under 30, and Splitsider calls her on of the Top Up-and-Coming Comedians in New York. She is a regular contributor to The Chris Gethard Show on Fusion and her radio show, Dr. Gameshow, can be heard every Monday night from 6-7pm EST on WFMU. Jo is a 2015 Comedy Central Comics to Watch.

In November of 2015, she taught a fantastic workshop at The Improv Shop in St. Louis. After taking the workshop and having a great time Logan Short (a producer w/ Sketchpad) thought it’d be a good idea to sit down with her and ask her a few questions. Disclaimer: She may have been standing, actually. We emailed her the questions and she emailed us back her answers. In fact, they may not even be her answers. But, we were led to believe they were and we just assumed she was sitting while writing the email back. Who stands to respond to email?

Q: When did you first start doing comedy? Why? You have to have some existential reason for it, right? 
A: I first started doing comedy in college with a sketch comedy group called Lunchbox. I’m not sure if I knew why I was starting it then or why I even do it now, really. I think it’s just always been kinda like gravity for me — comedy’s been pulling me down to the pits of hell one day at a time.

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Q: Some people tell us they want to write for our show, but they just can’t think of what to write. Where do you find material? Where should people find material?
A: I think it’s less about “finding” material and more about figuring out what’s blocking you. Maybe you can’t write because you’re actually just really hungry right now, or maybe you’ve got shit going on that’s not funny at all, or maybe you’re putting too much pressure on yourself to write a perfect sketch. If you’re having trouble, just focus on getting rid of the trouble before you write anything. Once you’re ready to write something, you’ll know. You’ll be writing!
 
Q: Do you have a particular process for developing your written material?
A: I love improvising based on sketch ideas. I think that’s always a great way to loosen up a group and flesh out what ideas have legs and which don’t!
 
Q: I took your workshop. Loved it. We made decisions about our sketches and came up with a show in 2 hours.  Pretty damn efficient. Do you think comedians spend too much time trying to refine their ideas instead of executing them?
A: I think it’s easier than you think to put up a good show, but harder to put up a great show. Realistically, you can write something performable in 30 minutes, but it takes years and lots and lots of reps to figure out how to make it great.
 
Q: You’ve worked on The Chris Gethard Show. What’s that like? How does one transition from, “I’ve got these dumb bits” to “I do comedy professionally?” How and when is a comedian supposed to start taking themselves seriously?
A: I don’t think comedians should ever take themselves seriously. Truly, we’re all monsters.
Working on The Chris Gethard Show was awesome. It’s really unbelievable and exciting to finally get paid for the way you think. I’ve always had jobs where I’ve struggled to think in the way the job needs, whether it’s in food service or schools or being a maid for my landlord. It makes you feel like you’re not totally crazy.
 
Q: The comedy scene in St. Louis is growing, but sometimes people can still feel limited in their opportunities to write or perform. How often do you create your own opportunities? How do you create them? punderdome
A: Make the best shows you can make. Involve a lot of people. Get people to help you and help other people.
 
Q: If you had a single piece of advice for aspiring comedians, particularly from St. Louis, what would it be?
A: Try your ideas before you kill them.
 
Q: Do you have anything you’d like to plug (shows, website, etc.)? We love to know what people are up to!
A: Make your homepage jofirestone.com! jk, don’t. that’s horrifying.

 

You can follow Jo on Twitter @kingfirestorm 

 

Thanks to Jo Firestone for taking time out of her day to answer a few questions. Jo was a member of the Improv Trick in St. Louis for a time. She grew up and went to school in Clayton, MO before moving to New York to pursue her comedy career. One of her shows Punderdome 3000 was written about on Stltoday.com. Read about Jo and Punderdome 3000.
Interview by Logan Short
Photos courtesy of jofirestone.com and stltoday.com

 

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