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#TheEarlyDraft: Episode 1

Comedian Vanessa Gonzalez. Photo: Kana Shae

Comedian Vanessa Gonzalez. Photo: Kana Shae

Each week, #TheEarlyDraft brings you a look into the messy process of how comedians are made. When writing, I often feel the temptation to save my best stuff for last. Hold the biggest punch until the end of the sketch, I tell myself. Your best joke should be your closer. I can feel that same temptation creeping into my Early Draft performer profiles. I look at the performers I’ve profiled already -- Chris Trew, Sophie Johnson, Derek Dupuy -- and I tell myself: Slow down! You’re using the best ones too soon! Build in some room to practice and make mistakes on lesser comedians like Jim “Who Dat” Gatorman and Chuck “Yuck-Em-Up” Landry, The Creole King of Comedy (confession: those “comedians” are all made up -- really just scarecrows dressed in human clothes that I keep in my house to yell at when I’m feeling down on myself).

This week, I spoke with Austin-based performer Vanessa Gonzalez. I love this performer so much that I wanted to save our conversation until The Early Draft got bigger, but screw it! She’s so good. And those of you in NOLA have a rare chance to see her performing live this week. So I MUST tell you about her. NOW!

The former conservatory director of The New Movement (Austin), Vanessa performs improv comedy with the group Handbomb and writes a brand new hour-long sketch show every week with the group Bad Example. She has toured the country with her award-winning solo sketch show “I Don’t Know Word’s”, she has headlined The Women in Comedy Festival, and she is here in New Orleans giving a preview of her new solo show I Don’t Know Dating.

The show is at 8 p.m. on November 19 and 20 at The New Movement (2706 St. Claude).

Vanessa is one of the most dynamic performers I’ve ever seen. She is truly a force on stage, moving with a type of energy and charisma that makes audience members lean over to one another and whisper “are you seeing this?!.”

She spoke with The Early Draft for our first-ever podcast, providing lessons about:

  • Building up “comedy calluses” and facing the fear that your work won’t be good enough.
  • The lessons she learned  from writing with her “back against the wall,” producing a brand-new hour of sketch content every single week with Bad Example
  • How she cold-called her way into the Emmy-nominated Latino Comedy Project
  • Tips on writing a solo show and how to find comedy in the very personal
  • And, of course, her deep concern for my crippling addiction to cookies

Here’s Vanessa in our first ever podcast. Enjoy the shifting audio levels and intermittent hum of the heater in the background; it’s our first draft.

CJ Hunt is a comedy writer and performer living in New Orleans. His NolaVie blog and personal brand, The Early Draft, is dedicated to comedians-in-the-making. It’s a look into the career decisions and creative processes of funny people chasing the dream. You will hear from comedians with big names. And those with names you haven’t heard of…yet. Check back each week for a look into that weird cluttered back-room workshop where comedians are made. Watch CJ work at GOcjhunt.com. Follow him on Twitter @gocjhunt.