comedians you should know

Jaye McBride, Future Marvel Villain

Illustration: Franziska Barczyk

This week, we’re highlighting 24 talented writers and performers for Vulture’s annual list “Comedians You Should and Will Know.” Our goal is to introduce a wider audience to the talent that has the comedy community and industry buzzing. (You can read more about our methodology at the link above.) We asked the comedians on the list to answer a series of questions about their work, performing, goals for the future, and more. Next up is Jaye McBride.

What would your Real Housewives tagline be?
Real Housewives: The noses are fake but the drama is real!”

What of your work do you think you’re best known for, and what of your work are you most proud of?
I’m most known for being on Netflix with Amy Schumer. I’m most proud of just how much I kissed Amy’s ass to get that gig. I did just record an hour this summer, though, and I think when it comes out, I might have something to be more proud of than being obsequious. (Great word, right?)

Tell us one story from your childhood you think explains why you ended up becoming a comedian.
I just always loved stand-up. I would sneak downstairs at night sometimes to watch Letterman, and I saw Jake Johannsen doing a set (he did about 40 over the years) and was blown away by just how funny he was. I immediately fell in love with the art. I even did a routine in seventh grade at a talent show, so it was pretty much meant to be.

If a network green-lit a semi-autobiographical series for you to star in tomorrow, what would your character’s name and job be?
I wouldn’t want one, to be honest. I’d rather play another character and write for other characters because I’m way too boring. I’m writing and illustrating a graphic novel, and believe me, superheroes are much more fun to write for and watch. If I absolutely had to write a pitch, it would be a younger version of me and I’d be an altar boy (which I absolutely was).

If you had to come onstage to just one song for the rest of your life, what song would it be and why?
“Detachable Penis,” by King Missile. Great opening and an Easter egg for fans of ’90s music.

Tell us everything about your worst show ever.
I was in a banquet hall that seated 150 people, and four people showed up. The venue insisted on doing the show anyway. It was about eight years ago, so I wasn’t even headlining, I was featuring, but it was the longest 25 minutes of my life. You can only do shitty crowd work so long. Fortunately, my crowd work is slightly less shitty now.

Nominate one comedian you don’t know personally who you think is overdue for wider recognition and why.
This is weird because I don’t watch a lot of comedy unless it’s someone I know personally or if it’s because they’re widely known. But if I went with a comic I know a little bit that is overdue for wider recognition, I’d say Phil Hanley. He’s probably the funniest comic in the city, in my opinion.

When it comes to your comedy opinions — about material, performing, audience, the industry, etc. — what hill will you die on?
Everest? Even though the Sherpas would probably leave me there to freeze. Metaphorically, I’d say that cis guys talking about trans women (specifically their genitals) is hacky, no matter who says it. Dude, that shit was stupid years ago, give it up.

Also, I’d tell comics that industry people aren’t nearly as important as they used to be. It’s not 1980 when a set on Johnny Carson would make your career. Now you can have a TikTok video go viral and get way more views than you ever could on late night.

What’s an embarrassingly earnest goal you have?
To have a ’60s-style living room — like Brady Bunch, mod-style era. Just imagine the swinging parties I could have but never will because I’m antisocial. Also, I want to be a Marvel villain, but that’s not so much embarrassing as unattainable. A trans villain is a little too on the nose for Middle America.

What is the best comedy advice, and then the worst comedy advice, you’ve ever received, either when you were starting out or more recently?
Best advice: Don’t be an asshole. Really. You know how many assholes there are in this business? (Insert proctologist joke.) (Insert joke about the words “insert” and “proctologist” in a sentence.)

Worst advice isn’t really that simple, but comedy has so many gatekeepers, comedy-club bookers, nightclub bookers, festivals. I was always told I had to do everything to impress the “right” people. After a while, I decided to do comedy for myself, and if those people aren’t impressed, fuck ’em. Ironically, that’s when good things started happening for me. If you aren’t doing comedy for the love of writing and performing, you’re in the wrong line of work.

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Jaye McBride, Future Marvel Villain