Performance Art

Show Us Your Ugly Things, Standup Comedy Edition

Showing your ugly things is a theme that Mad Art Lab harps on regularly. The idea is that the silly drawings or crafts or songs or writing you do behind closed doors for yourself and yourself alone, no matter how terrible you think it is, shouldn’t be kept secret. Putting your stuff out there for the world to see achieves a whole number of wonderful things: critique, for example, is essential if you want to get better at any task. There are other less scary benefits as well. By opening yourself up, you’re inviting other people to admit their own secret passions, perhaps finding camaraderie in the process. And most of all, you’re usually your own worst critic, so putting your stuff out into the harsh public light gives you at least some potential for the always welcome, “Hey, that’s actually really good!”

It’s in that spirit that I, having taken an only six-month foray into standup comedy, decided to upload my portion of my class graduation show to YouTube and share it with you all.

Before I run and hide under my bed so you can press play, I should say a few words about the class I took, because it is all that is awesome. The Feminine Comique is an all-female standup comedy class in Chicago founded by Cameron Esposito (who called Jay Leno a lesbian on her late-night debut and was invited over to chat as a result; the video is amazing). Esposito had noticed the dearth of female comics in the city, and decided to do something about it by founding this class. Since its start, more than 300 women have graduated, and the comedy stages of Chicago are that much richer for it. I could write a whole post about the pros and cons of doing art in an all-female room (and probably will), but in this instance, being in a class where you weren’t allowed to apologize and were allowed to make period jokes was incredibly helpful for my own growth.

Without further ado, here…is my ugly thing.

Ashley Hamer

Ashley Hamer (aka Smashley) is a saxophonist and writer living in Chicago, where she performs regularly with the funk band FuzZz and jazz ensemble Big Band Boom. She also does standup comedy, sort of, sometimes. Her tenor saxophone's name is Ladybird.

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  1. Congratulations, and good work on sharing your stuff!

    And I will admit that I laughed aloud, even though I’m in a public place and was trying not to.

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