Kenice Mobley (@kenicemobley) is a New York–based comedian who has been featured in the Limestone, Bridgetown, SF Sketchfest, and Women in Comedy festivals. She has appeared on Laughs on Fox and SiriusXM and produces Nothing Important, The Lab, and The Pasta Show in Brooklyn.
This week, Kenice and I talked about vulnerability in comedy, being overwhelmingly Italian, and Nicole Kidman’s monologue in Eyes Wide Shut.
I was recently on vacation with my mom and I saw her naked and was swiftly furious. I mean, mine are fine, but she genuinely is genetically blessed. I asked her if I could tell people, and she laughed so I did it. My mother and I are probably too close. I have a lot of jokes about her. I love playing with the absurdity of caring more about my tits than the life of the woman who raised me.
Has social media benefited you as a comic in any way?
Social media has been a great way to explore ideas, not necessarily the jokes themselves, that I want to talk about onstage. It is a daily exercise that helps me start writing. It’s also been great for connecting with audiences after a show. I’m not highly followed, so sometimes I feel like, Is this worth the time? So that a handful of people see it? But on good days, it’s great!
What made you pursue a comedy career?
I loved comedy as a kid, but didn’t really see a way into it. I went to film school, and thought that’s the way I wanted to express myself and tell stories. When I was living in L.A., I went to an open mic with a friend, and I saw some truly terrible comedians and thought, I could do that better than them, and since then, I’ve been trying to do that.
Like all my tweets, this one is based on a very real incident. I was walking home after a show and I was thinking about the kiss I had the day before. And I was like, Damn, I was good at that, I gotta do that all the time. Maybe I went a couple of months without kissing anyone, but that’s all gonna change, this is the beginning of you kissing everyone. It wasn’t, but it was a nice thought. I recently started playing with vulnerability in my comedy, talking about my loneliness, and so far it hasn’t been the earth-shattering thing I worried it would be. Shockingly, no one has said, “Haha, you do deserve the negative feelings you’re experiencing, bitch!”
Do you think that vulnerability is necessary to be successful as a comic? Why or why not? What else do you think is necessary?
I don’t think it’s always been necessary, and I don’t think it’s necessary for everyone. Seinfeld made billions talking about airplane food and making distanced observations. So many people do self-deprecating humor, and that’s what a lot of comedy is now, but that’s not synonymous with vulnerable. When I say I’m trying to be vulnerable, I mean I’m trying to talk about the things that have the ability to cause me pain. God, I sound like I’m trying to recreate Nanette in a tweet; not my intention! But it’s one thing to make a joke about someone calling you ugly, it’s another thing entirely to discuss grappling with issues around self-esteem and self-worth your whole life.
You produce The Pasta Show, a comedy show that serves a different homemade pasta dish each month. Tell us about that unique idea!
The Pasta Show existed well before I moved to New York. It was created by Brian Parise because he is overwhelmingly Italian and is a great cook. He makes the pasta, we banter about it before the show. I’ve been a producer for two of the five years the show has been going. I did create and produce The Lab: A Very Black Experimental Comedy Show. I wanted to give black performers a chance to be weird in a space with technical resources. We’re usually on the third Friday of every month.
I like this one because it is genuinely silly that no one intervened here. My attempts at dealing with weird horny-teenager energy were very transparent.
Okay, the people need to know: Which song and which monologue?
“Love Ridden” off the When the Pawn… album, and the monologue where Nicole Kidman describes a sailor she wanted desperately and would have blown up her marriage for.
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