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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.


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