This week, we’re highlighting 22 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, comedy during the pandemic, and more. First up is Rosebud Baker.
When did you feel that you were funny enough to make a legitimate go at comedy?
I don’t even know what a “legitimate” go at comedy means, but that’s ’cause I came from money. It’s paying my bills and somehow still feels illegitimate. I don’t think I’ve ever felt “funny enough” for it. But I’m doing it; I’m getting there. I think the first time I really decided this was lucrative enough to be worth it was a corporate gig I did in 2019. I made $20,000 just to roast this billionaire for 15 minutes. I felt like a sex worker. Didn’t even have to take off my jacket.
Describe your comedy in five words.
What of your work do you think you’re best known for, and what of your work are you most proud of?
This may be optimistic, but my special, Whiskey Fists, because it’s what I’m most proud of. Truth is, I got pregnant during the pandemic, so to make some passive income when things opened up, I decided to record an album with 800 Pound Gorilla Records. Then I decided I’d film it, and brought in All Things Comedy to help produce. Then Comedy Central came in. Then, three weeks before we shot it, I miscarried … So that was pretty devastating. But also, hilarious. I remember just having the special to focus on was kind of life-saving in an unhealthy, survivalist way. During the pandemic people kept saying, “Capitalism is toxic!” But it does get you up in the morning when you’re sad. Like opioids. Anyway, I’m really, really proud I pulled it off. And so grateful to the people who made it happen.
What have you done for comedy during COVID that you thought you would never do?
I spent time with my family. What else was I gonna write about?
Who are some of your favorite comedians right now? Who is putting out work that excites and inspires you?
So many comics. Ryan Donahue is one of the most talented stand-up comics in NYC. It pains me to say that, because he’s already got reasons to be confident with his long flowing hair, and he’s young, and one of his eyelashes is all white like an Australian shepherd. But he’s a hell of a comic.
Also Larry Owens makes me laugh so hard and does cabaret in a way that I never appreciated until I saw him do it. He’s so talented and funny it hurts to watch.
Brendan Sagalow has more fun onstage than anybody. He’s just fun to watch. Especially when he thinks he’s bombing. He’s gonna think She didn’t need to add that part, but I did. It’s a beautiful thing to behold.
Adrienne Iapalucci. She’s one of the most skilled comics I’ve ever seen onstage.
Those are just the first few that come to mind, but there’s so many.
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?
“It’s not about trying to be right. It’s about trying to be funny” was the best thing I’ve ever heard. I don’t even remember who said it or where I read it or heard it. But best advice I’ve ever gotten for this specific time in comedy.
When I start to hear bad advice I judge the messenger so loudly in my head, I literally can’t hear them talking anymore. So I can’t remember.
Tell us one story from your childhood that is a good representation of your life.
When I was a kid, I asked my dad if I could try Baker’s Chocolate. He told me I wouldn’t like it and I threw a fit, so he said that if he let me try it, I had to eat the whole block. Seemed fair. So I tried it. Tasted like sidewalk chalk and Band-Aids. I had to eat a whole block, cause Southern dads do not fuck around. And I barfed everywhere. All over. And I looked at my dad and said “Delicious!”
So that’s been my life pattern pretty much ever since: ignoring warnings and pretending to be proud of myself.
What’s an embarrassingly earnest goal you have?
I want to sit down with Justin Bieber and tell him how good the Tiny Desk Concert was, and say, “Do you wanna go do karaoke tonight?” He’ll go, “Can Hailey come?” And I’ll tell him, “I’d rather it just be one-on-one, like a boys’ hang but with a grown woman.”
If you had the power to remove anything from the comedy world right now, from trends with material to how the industry operates, what would it be?
I think we’re all pretty tired of being asked to comment on each other’s work. Or even on our own work. It’s rarely funny and feels self-destructive.