Irene Morales (@irenesmoraless) is a New York City–based comedian, writer, and actor who performs regularly at New York Comedy Club. She co-created, wrote, and starred in the series We Don’t Know with comedian Henry Foley and has a weekly podcast called Dear Nana: Advice From an Idiot.
This week, Irene and I talked tweeting at 4 a.m., fangirling Jessica Kirson, and being a Cuban goth Harriet the Spy.
Has Twitter been a good platform for your jokes?
For the most part, yes. I like the idea of being able to throw paint against the wall and see what sticks. But just like with a live performance, the timing of it also affects its success. You could post something at 4 a.m. that’s great, but not that many people are avoiding their responsibilities and scrolling through their feeds at that time. I’ve also discovered that since some people only follow me on Instagram because they don’t like or use Twitter that it’s been good to post tweets on Instagram to see if people like it and the idea has legs.
What made you decide to start doing comedy?
I started writing stand-up-style jokes when I was 14 years old; before then it was just me being a Cuban/goth/Harriet the Spy with my notebook in a tree in Miami. I grew up watching stand-up with my mom and still do. We have The Kings of Comedy memorized and say bits from it to each other to this day. Even though I watched it on TV and listened to it for years, it didn’t occur to me that it was something I could actually do until I was in college and my boyfriend at the time said to me, “But who will take care of the kids?” I broke up with him and signed up for a bringer show at the Miami Improv shortly thereafter.
You’ve opened for some huge comedy celebs. Has that been motivating for you? Do you have any favorite comedians or comedians you’d aspire to open for in the future?
I’m a lucky girl and it absolutely has. It’s motivating and inspiring to see established comedians continue to work on new material while exploring other avenues like acting, directing, or producing. My top-three comedy crushes are Maria Bamford, Dave Attell, and Dave Chappelle. I think my little heart would just burst if I got to open for them, but I’d play it cool till I got home and then let myself melt. I got to open for Jessica Kirson at the Fat Black Pussy Cat, which was an absolute dream because she’s another comedy crush of mine and I think she could tell I was melting inside but was so lovely about it, which made me melt even more – and her fans so great! Gah! She’s so great! It was great.
What, if any, changes would you like to see in the comedy world? What needs work?
This is a tricky one, but I’m worried that all of us, collectively, myself included, are forgetting to have fun. Take the Bagel Boss video, for example: There were people making jokes about it, and then there were other people saying, “Oh, the people who are making fun of Bagel Boss are the same people who claim to be ‘woke’ but are clearly making fun of someone who is mentally ill.” I see that point as well, but the second group are people who have maybe also used the word retarded in their act, therefore falling short of the bar they set for others. Apparently the Bagel Boss guy has a YouTube and this was all an attempt to go viral. As someone who has a brother with autism, I’ve heard the word retarded and more recently autistic been used in acts, and I’m beyond getting offended — I just pity them and their underwritten joke. In the end, no one is perfect and life is too short. Instead of policing people, just keep your eyes on your own paper, try not to be an asshole, and have fun.
Did you ever confront your therapist about her blatant hypocrisy?
No, but we did just meet again yesterday after her being on vacation for three weeks, and I told her about a tweet of mine — “Anytime my therapist leaves town it’s like she took the training wheels off and kicked me into a fire” — and she seemed to be really taken aback by it and kept coming back to it during our session. I had to break down the tweet to her and say that weekly therapy is like guidance, so I used the training wheels as a metaphor and the fire is the world we live in, you’ve seen the news, yes? I finally told her it wasn’t that serious and I was just trying to be funny and make it relatable, to which she said: “Irene, in my profession words have meaning …” to which I responded, “They have meaning in my profession as well; we just have fun with it.”
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