The following series “Together in Isolation” is a week-long series curated by Rosalind Kidwell as part of the Digital Research Internship Program in partnership with ViaNolaVie. The DRI Program is a Newcomb Insitute technology initiative for undergraduate students combining technology skillsets, feminist leadership, and the digital humanities.
New Orleans, along with the rest of the world is facing unprecedented challenges amidst the global Coronavirus pandemic. It is easy to get lost in the news cycle with articles that cause fear, sadness, and anger. Though these news reports should not be taken lightly, it’s important to have positive outlets and hear uplifting stories to remind ourselves that we’ll eventually return to normalcy. As such, this curation is bringing together inspiring, hopeful, and promising articles to raise our spirits and remind us what a resilient city we live in.
No one knows how to raise spirits quite like great comedians, and we all could use some levity right now. This interview was originally published on August 24, 2017.
Every passing month brings with it new challenges. But, luckily, it also brings a new edition of STOKED, the monthly comedy showcase put together and overseen by the seriously funny Lane Lonion and Mary-Devon Dupuy. They were both nice enough to stop by the studio last month and talk to me about the upcoming show this Saturday at The Howlin’ Wolf Den (featuring comics Duncan Pace, Addy Najera, Isaac Kozell and Kamari Stevens) and what it’s like doing standup here in New Orleans.
Q: So where did you all grow up?
LL: I grew up in Maurice, Louisiana. It’s like a little bit south of Lafayette.
MD: Here in New Orleans.
Q: What was the idea behind STOKED and how did that come to be?
LL: Me and Mary-Devon were friends through the comic community, and we wanted to put on a show showcasing the best NOLA comics and kind of give them extended sets to do their thing. Every month we book four of the best comedians in New Orleans; sometimes more than that, sometimes people from out of town. And we usually have a headliner each month and they do 20 or more minutes, and it’s a nice little showcase for everybody.
MD: That’s pretty much it. It’s nice [that it’s] monthly because it’s hard enough to book that. And also we get to be a little choosier, which is good.
Q: Being performers yourselves, what are your favorite parts of being on stage?
LL: After a good set, getting off stage— that feels good. I mean, I like the laughs. That feels really good. I still get nervous after five years. And, you know, just getting off stage and people telling you ‘good job’ after. I’d rather ‘good jobs’ than laughs sometimes.
MD: See, I totally disagree because whenever people tell me I have a good set, if I think it wasn’t a good set [then] I get really mad at them. And then I’m just being mean to them because sometimes people will think that you had a good set, even if most people didn’t agree. And then I’m very mean, I’ll like growl at them. Just like: how dare you lie to me? But I am 100 percent dependent on laughs, and I don’t really like it when people tell me I had a good set unless it was like very good.
LL: So I feel you too on that. I’m just saying when I have a good set, I like to stick around for those ‘good jobs.’
MD: Yeah, but that’s if it’s someone that you like really respect too?
LL: No, no, no. [laughing]
Q: What are aspects of the other person’s comedy that you really appreciate?
LL: Um. [laughs]
Q: If there are any?
LL: No, no, no. Mary-Devon really tells it like it is. [laughter]
And no, she’s great. Watching her do standup is like having a conversation with her; like she’s all over the place. But, it’s funny throughout, and she’s just hitting hard on everything.
MD: I think Lane is a really good joke writer and [as] I was saying, I think that a lot of his jokes might have silly premises, but they’re really well written and there’s levels to them. I think that set-up/punchline is funny, but I think it loses people’s attention and the more I’ve seen Lane…the more I’ve seen him get funnier and funnier. He’s very good.
LL: Well, thank you very much. [laughter]
Q: Who are some local comics that you really love or that you look up to.
LL: Vincent Zambon. Very, very funny. Like absurdist wouldn’t you say?
LL: Laura Sanders, Kamari Stevens and…no one else. [laughter]
MD: Yeah, I would say those three people. And then I would also say [that] Vincent and I do a show together on Fridays as well. So, I’d be remiss not to mention him and he’s great, but also Geneva Joy Hughes.
LL: Yeah, she’s great.
MD: Or Geneva Joy: that’s her stage name. Geneva Joy is very funny. She’s a killer.
Q: For people that are on the fence about doing standup, is there any advice that you’d give them to kind of push them towards it?
LL: Write as many of your thoughts down as possible and do that for a month, for a whole month. And after that gather all that stuff on there and just get on stage. Or if you’re not the kind of person who likes to write stuff down, just get on stage [and] see how you feel. And after you’ll feel great or you’ll feel terrible. You won’t ever do it again. And maybe that’s a good thing and now I don’t have to see you because you’re really bad at it. [laughter] But if you’re good we get to see you again.
MD: And it takes a long time to get good at standup so you shouldn’t feel discouraged if it’s something that you actually want to do. And if you still have that drive to do it even though you’re not getting laughs then you should still keep going to mics— go to as many open mikes as possible. Personally, I think being on stage is more important than writing material. I mean everyone knows that you have to do both like you have to try out new stuff but also you’re not entitled to [laughs]. Like if someone’s not laughing at your jokes for three months I would say it’s almost one hundred percent because you’re not funny. Like, no one hates you, there’s no big conspiracy. You’re just not funny yet. And I think a lot of people feel entitled. So.
LL: Amen. [laughter]
Q: You’ve both been at this for some time now, what keeps you doing comedy?
LL: I like creating and seeing different things work out. And getting better at it and seeing actual progress and all that stuff.
MD: I just feel like it’s kind of—this is so cheesy— but, it’s kind of just addictive, and I still like it. I think one day I’ll get jaded and I’ll have to force myself to do it. But, I still hate missing open mics [and] I rarely resent going to shows.
LL: I resent a lot of shows.
Q: To kind of wrap this up with something kind of fun. If you are a sandwich what kind of sandwich would you be and what does that say about your personality?
LL: I think I’ll just be a plain catfish sandwich.
MD: I was going to say fried catfish po’boy!
LL: Aw, sorry.
MD: No, it’s alright. You’re Cajun. You can have catfish. [laughter]
LL: Well, I like catfish and I’m trying to eat only pescatarian now, so I can’t be like a meat thing. What does that says about my personality? I just want the catfish. And the bread. So, there’s nothing to me. Pretty shallow.
MD: I think I’d be a cheeseburger with blue cheese on it. Because a lot of people think I smell bad.
Catch Mary-Devon, Lane, and a line-up of New Orleans’ finest comics at the Howlin’ Wolf Den this Saturday, August 26th at 9:30PM. You can follow Lane on Twitter @Lane_the_Train and Mary-Devon @DevoDupuy. More information about STOKED can be found via their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/Stoked-New-Orleans-1790656241179880/
This interview has been shortened and edited for clarity.