Relax and Trust Me – The Caitlin Gill Interview

Maybe you’ve seen her on TV on Viceland’s Flophouse, at festivals like Outside Lands or Bridgetown, on the Oddball Comedy Tour, or at any reputable (or not-so-reputable) West Coast comedy venue. Perhaps you’ve heard her voice on NPR, or read a piece she wrote for the New York Times. But if not, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll at least recognize her from her appearance in a string of commercials for Credit Karma. Yeah, that’s her, Caitlin Gill. Caitlin is a comedy Renaissance woman who’s not afraid to expose virtually every aspect of her life for the sake of laughter. You can catch her at the 5th annual Savage Henry Comedy Festival. But before she rolls into town, check out this recent conversation I had with Caitlin about embracing fear, failure, and the funniness of farts.

Isaac Kozell: You were recently in France. Was that trip business or pleasure?

Caitlin Gill: Little bit of both. I didn’t do any stand up there. I was in serious vacation mode. I was there to see friends I have made through comedy who have built an incredible home in glorious Provence. It was splendid.

IK: When I first met you you were a Bay Area comic. Is that where you got your start?

CG: It is. I was in the Bay Area for about 10 years. San Francisco is a super town for comedy. So many great comics, so many great shows. One of my favorite things about coming to LA is seeing so many of my Bay Area buddies down here killing it.

IK: When did you make the move to LA? What prompted the move?

CG: I moved two years ago. I got a great piece of advice about comedy in the Bay from the boss, Ali Wong: make a to-do list, do it, then GO. I took that to mean that the Bay is a great place to start and learn, but if you want to have a career, you have to go chase bigger opportunities elsewhere. I made a list, got the list done, then I left. I miss the Bay, but LA rules.

IK: You cohost Crabapples every Tuesday night at 10 at the Hollywood Improv Lab. Tell me about the show and how you started working with Bobcat Goldthwait.

CG: Crabapples is the best. It’s my favorite thing. Bobcat and I met 4 years ago at SF Sketchfest and have become tour buddies, co-hosts and roommates (my sweet lady and I live in his basement). He’s a wonderful guy and a terrific friend. There’s a chemistry we’ve found onstage that’s built on our friendship, which is inherently weird because he’s Bobcat Goldthwait and I’m the girl from a Credit Karma commercial. It’s proven to be a fun dynamic. The show has a real “living room” feel. It’s a bit of magic. Please do stop by if you find yourself in LA on a Tuesday night.

IK: You have some very cool pieces that gained national attention, like your New York Times op-ed on Caitlyn Jenner and your story “The Minivan” that aired on NPR. Have things like that been a boost to your comedy career? Have they helped you gain new fans?

CG: I think they have been a boost, and certainly reached a broader audience than I could reach from a comedy club. They for sure build confidence in myself as a writer and performer, which is handy, since show biz ain’t easy and not everything breaks my way. That isn’t a complaint, it’s something I’m thankful for. A career in comedy requires a comfortable relationship with fear and failure. Those are good lessons. Anytime I have a shitty set, it teaches me something about how to handle myself the next time I fuck up in real life.

IK: I’ve heard people describe your comedy as self-deprecating, but you dismiss that label. Why do you disagree with that term?

CG: Ha. Why would you say that I’m self-deprecating?! Just because I talk about bombing and fucking up my real life?! JKJKJK. I don’t think I’m self-deprecating. I think I’m not afraid to talk about my fears. I like myself, the audience has to feel that or talking about my fears isn’t funny, it’s scary. I also have to love the audience. Like, actively, on purpose really LOVE the audience. If they can feel that, they can relax and trust me to talk about stuff they might not agree with or be into. In the bubble of LA or SF, I perform for a lot of like-minded people. That’s not the case when I leave the bubble and enter places where Trump is polling well. Out there, I’ve learned that I really have to show crowds love so they can relax and dig the gay lady with weird hair.

IK: What is the funniest thing in the world to you? A thing that makes you laugh every time you see it, hear it, or think about it?

CG: Oh man, someone falling down without getting injured. Funny every goddamn time. Also farts. Always farts.

About Isaac Kozell

Isaac Kozell is a New Orleans based Writer and Standup Comedian. He spends his spare time skateboarding, gardening, and reminiscing about that one time back in '99 when he was invited onstage to perform with the band Sugar Ray.

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