Brandie Posey puts in work. On the day of our interview, Posey was also recording an episode of the Lady to Lady podcast, attending the premiere of the indie film The Worst Year of My Life (in which she has a supporting role), having her property inspected for termites (Update: no termites!) and driving for Lyft to drum up a little extra cheddar. She’ll soon be hitting the festival circuit with the live show Picture This! and has plans to release a new, 10-episode podcast called Mourning Becomes Eclectic. Frankly, I was lucky to even be a part of her schedule. Get familiar with Brandie Posey.
Isaac Kozell: Let’s talk about Lady to Lady. Take me back to the inception of the podcast.
Brandie Posey: Lady to Lady is myself, Barbara Gray and Tess Barker. We were all standing outside of a show a few years ago, just kind of … it’s fun when you’re a female comic and you get to hang out with other female comics at shows, because unfortunately, it doesn’t happen very often. Usually you’re booked one or two at a time on shows. For some reason, there was a big group of us at this show and we were standing around, riffing, goofing off and it was like, “It would be great if there was a show like this. Just a bunch of us, man-to-man but, lady-to-lady.” It initially started out as a live show that we were doing once a month, kind of a Rocky Horror-style talk show. It was like The View meets Pee-wee’s Playhouse and Rocky Horror, with a little bit of David Lynch thrown in. We do a pop culture round table, but we always have sketch characters that come out. Comedian Eric Dadourian plays our baby that we adopted – who’s an adult in diapers – because we wanted to be fulfilled as women. All we had was a dollar and a Tecate. He’s the kind of baby you get for a dollar and a Tecate. He reads poetry about trying to find his bio-dad. The podcast came about because we thought it would be helpful to work on our banter and chemistry more than once a month. We had been doing the live show at a place called Little Modern Theater, but that theater shut down and UCB started letting us go up there. That was great, but we couldn’t get a monthly gig. It was more like every couple of months. The podcast took front and center for about a year. We brought the live show back, since we’ve built up a little bit of a following and it’s easier to get people to come out for it.
IK: How much do the twisted and surreal aspects of the live show carry over to the podcast?
BP: We’re in Season Three of the show now. If you listen to the first season, it didn’t really have much of a format. It was a straight hour where we would talk to guests, goof around, maybe play a couple of games, then introduce a character halfway through. The characters were always played by guys. We had Nick Rutherford play our Groupon Gynecologist. He would just come on and promote his Groupon deals. We were pretty sure he’d never seen a vagina. In the Second Season, we got picked up by the Maximum Fun podcast network. Jesse Thorn, who runs it, gave us a couple of notes about formatting to tighten it up a bit. We added two breaks, so now it’s a three-part podcast. The first segment is kind of free-flowing, us talking about our weeks and stuff. In the second segment, we play games with our guests. We have a game called Confessions where we each text our Producer a confession, he adds a fake confession, then we get a Stephen Hawking robot voice to read the confessions and you have to guess whose is whose. In the third segment we either do a character or Lady Problems, where listeners write in with problems and we try to solve them.
IK: You also have another live show, Picture This! …
BP: Yeah. Sam Varela is my co-creator and co-producer on the show. I’m the host. We combine animation and comedy where live animators animate your jokes behind you during your set. It feels like you’re dealing with the most talented heckler of all time. All of the animators we get work for shows like Metalocalypse, Bojack Horseman, Mr. Pickle, all sorts of Cartoon Network and Adult Swim shows. These guys are really good. They draw things in real time based off of your jokes. It’s fun for the comics. It kind of throws people off at first when they do it because you’re so used to being in charge of where your laughs hit. To have somebody drawing your stuff behind you throws off where your punchlines hit. It’s been interesting to see who is willing to let go of their ego and just have fun with it.
IK: Did I see somewhere that you’ve been able to go international with Picture This!?
BP: That show has been at the Adelaide Comedy Festival and the Melbourne Comedy Festival in Australia. Sam and I didn’t go though. We were approached by a girl named Alexandra Howell. She was kind of a part of our team for a while and she took it overseas. But Sam and I have had the show at Bridgetown, All Jane No Dick and SF Sketch Fest. This year, we’re taking it to the Green Gravel Festival in Iowa, Crom West in Denver and a couple of others we’re working on. In March, we’re going to launch a show in New York. We are open to giving people a chance to do the show in select cities as franchises. There’s a franchise in Portland right now. There’s going to be one in San Francisco soon.
IK: I’m seeing a lot more themed comedy shows and a lot more festivals booking them. Do you think that a themed show is necessary for a young comic looking to stand out from the pack?
BP: There are more people doing stand-up now than there ever have been because the economy collapsed and the Internet is making doing comedy something that seems possible. People are also more comedy savvy. Obviously, there is a way to just be a standup now, but that’s hard in and of itself. I’m more collaborative than traditional stand-up allows you to be. I was raised in the aftermath of the first comedy boom. As a kid, stand-up wasn’t that big of a deal to me because I didn’t like the stuff that was on Comedy Central. But I loved SNL, Seinfeld, The State … anything with an ensemble cast. That was more of an influence on me than stand-up. I love stand-up, but I also know that there are other ideas that I would like to work on with other people. I think that comes naturally to more people now and I think it’s something that should be encouraged. It’s harder to sell yourself if you just do one thing. If you’re a writer, comedian and you also produce stuff, you have a better shot. There’s so much stand-up out there. How can we push the medium in new and creative directions?
IK: Right. If your ultimate goal is to be a better, funnier, sharper performer, then the more things you do under the comedy umbrella, the better you’ll be when it’s just you alone onstage with a mic.
BP: Completely. I’ve always been a big believer in DIY, even though it’s overused a lot in comedy. When I first started, I wanted to learn to host. I started hosting an open mic. Over the course of three years, I became a decent host. From there, I wanted to learn how to get better at doing longer sets. I used to run a show with four comics doing 20 minutes each in a bowling alley dive bar. That’s how I learned to do 20 minutes. I did it every Tuesday for three years and really honed my chops. When we started Picture This!, I was a very scripted comic. I knew that a show like that would really help me with riffing and being more comfortable onstage. Lady to Lady has made me more comfortable with not having every word in front of me and trusting the people I’m working with.
IK: Now you’re adding Actor to the resumé as well. Is this your first film?
BP: This is my first film-film. I’ve done web stuff, but everyone has done web stuff. I had taken an improv class with the director years ago, before I had even started stand-up. We worked on a couple of small things here and there and he remembered me for this part. It’s a supporting part. I play this girl named Rona, a bitchy vegan who is trying to undermine the main relationship in the movie. It’s fun to play a villain.
IK: You’re originally from Maryland. What brought you to L.A.?
BP: I knew I always wanted to work in comedy. When I was in second grade, Ace Ventura 2 came out and I had kind of a religious experience watching that movie. I’m just the right age where Jim Carrey was a hero. If you’re five years older, you might think he’s kind of annoying and lame. If you’re younger, you might have missed him. Since Ace Ventura 2, I’ve developed a ritual where I never miss the opening of a Jim Carrey movie. It’s like, “Cool, I guess I’m going to Mr. Popper’s Penguins.” Tradition is tradition. Dumb and Dumber To was the 23rd Jim Carrey movie I’ve seen on opening day. I went to film school in Philly, Drexel University. For six months of your Junior year you basically just go find an internship. So I went to L.A. for the six months. I knew I could come home after the internship, so it was way less scary than moving there blindly after college. While I was here I took classes at UCB and fell in love with L.A. a little bit, which scared me. I’ve always liked things that scare me, hence why I am a comedian. When I moved back for Senior year, I wanted to get more into sketch, so I started taking classes at UCB in New York, since I could take the train from Philly once a week. I knew I wanted to move to one of those two places. I like New York, but I wouldn’t want to live there. Everything is 30% harder there. Everyone in New York has PTSD. L.A. is better for me. The constant sunshine, while cliché, is a plus. All of the comics that I’ve met out here are really passionate and work hard and are very talented. In an average week, you get to see really amazing people who inspire you constantly. It pushes you to hold yourself to a very high caliber. I’ve also always been a big comedy nerd and movie fan. It’s awesome to go take a spin class and Jeremy Piven is in front of you and you’re like, “Oh, that’s what you look like when you’re sweating.” That’s never not going to be fun for me.
IK: You seem to have a thing for Ryan Reynolds.
BP: Ryan Reynolds is my one legitimate celebrity crush. I don’t usually talk about him that much. I mostly do it because it annoys and upsets my boyfriend a little bit. He’s my go-to pretty boy. I’ve always liked him in movies. He’s really funny. I think he’s got a good dark streak. He’s just never been given the proper vehicle to do what he can do. Green Lantern was garbage and he pretty openly acknowledges it. I think his Deadpool is going to be great. I really believe in him.
(At this point, we play a Ryan Reynolds trivia game. Brandie only gets one question right.)
IK: You know, I think trivia is for posers. You get Ryan Reynolds as a person.
BP: Not to get too serious, but I read about how his dad has Parkinson’s and he’s become a big advocate for it. He does the New York Marathon every year for Michael J. Fox’s team. My mom passed away last year from a neurological disease that’s in the Parkinson’s family. I feel simpatico in a lot of ways and this is one of them. Like, “You know how horrible this thing is too.”
IK: Isn’t it interesting how we can form connections with complete strangers just by absorbing information about them?
BP: Totally. I’m such a child of pop culture and I definitely feel more of a kinship with pop culture people than even exists at all. But if you look, you can definitely see something of yourself in other people.
IK: This month’s Savage Henry theme is breakfast. What is your favorite breakfast food?
BP: Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I love all breakfast foods. The California Breakfast Burrito is a life changing event the first time you have one. There’s one I get here that’s cheese, chorizo, hash browns, eggs and avocado. It’s the perfect brick on your stomach. Eat one and go back to bed.
IK: Were you a cartoon kid? Like, get up on Saturday morning, grab a box of cereal and plant yourself in front of the TV?
BP: Oh yeah. I also loved that block that Disney used to have right after school. I could not wait to come home and watch Bonkers and … man, I was really into Gargoyles. I didn’t want to transition into live action shows. They seemed so boring. I still love cartoons. There’s just so much more you can do with them. It’s anarchy on a page.
IK: I miss it. I also miss it for the sake of kids today. None of the major networks show Saturday morning cartoons anymore. It’s just these watered down, pseudo-educational shows about stuff like animal hospitals that only cater to otters. A lot of people are jaded toward nostalgia, but for me, it’s genuine. The ‘80s and ‘90s cartoons – and even as an extension of that spirit, the old comedy movies from that time – were ok with being goofy and zany for no reason whatsoever.
BP: I watched Zoolander so many times in theaters. I think that’s how I got over 9/11.