Interview with Sally Ann Hall, comedian

Alaskan, feminist, and partyer Sally Ann talks to Voice about her quarantine comedy special that is airing as part of season 2 of [email protected] 

Interview with Sally Ann Hall, comedian

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

I’m Sally Ann – yes you have to say the Ann, so sorry – and I am an Alaskan comedian who’s been singing and joking for her dinner in New York City!

What does a typical day look like for you?

Before the pandemic, it was always different. I perform standup comedy at night, and there were just millions of places to do that in New York. I could have five shows a night at three different venues. Sometimes I would do a show and then run to my shift at the bar. It was always different and exciting.

Nowadays, I usually wake up and walk the dog (I got him for the depression in lockdown but it turns out I have to take care of him?!), journal for a bit, and pick one or two projects to work on: pilot, podcast, new song, etc. Then I smoke some green and get to it!

What’s great about your job?

I get bored with a strict schedule but I like to be kept on my toes. The fact that every week I’m working on something different helps keep the melancholy at bay. Comedy is a form of therapy for me, which is great because I cannot afford real therapy.

What are the bits you don’t like or find challenging?

Being a comedian right now is hard for anyone without a strong online presence. I fare better with audiences in a live setting, so it’s hard to “go viral” over Twitter or Instagram and I have many friends who often do! I have to keep reminding myself not to compare, because likes and retweets are not a fair barometer of how “good” one’s art is. I imagine I will change my opinion once I have more followers.

You are participating in season 2 of [email protected] Tell us about your show?

“Half-Baked Alaskan” is truly a quarantine comedy special. I filmed it in my apartment with my roommates as the captive audience. It’s a very personal hour of comedy based on my life as an Alaskan, a feminist, and a partyer. I also have some original songs that I think any fan of musical comedy would appreciate!

It was pretty awkward to put on at first, because standup isn’t meant to be done for 3 people (even though I’ve had that size audience many, many times). I wanted to recreate a smaller version of the big-name comedy specials I’ve been devouring during quarantine, but shoot it on phones in my apartment. I also edited it, which was challenging for me, but I’m happy with the result and think it makes for a much better viewing experience than a typical online zoom show.

What should an audience expect when watching the show?

To laugh their ass off while their butthole tightens.

How have you found the transition from live performance to online? 

There just is no substitute for live performance in standup, because I loved crowd work and talking to people. But I will say, I love that when I’m done with a show now, I can go RIGHT back to bed and not take a cab or anything :)

Have you found it constrictive or has it allowed you to experiment more?

I’ve definitely switched to writing more music, because music does well over online platforms, where you may not hear the audience’s response. I do miss audience feedback because it is essential to my standup writing process, however.

Do you think online performance will remain popular/necessary in the future?

I think there is real room for it! But, I do miss the live comedy clubs and can’t wait for their return. Honestly, I think when they open up again, we will realize how poor a substitute online shows are.

How has it been working with theSpaceUK for this season?

theSpaceUK is wonderful! So clever for them to capitalize on the pandemic and not let good art go to waste. I’m very happy to have found this platform and I’m really enjoying watching the other online shows!

What are the highlights of your career to date?

I headlined Caroline’s On Broadway, a comedy club I had been going to for years, seeing famous people I’d been fans of my whole life. And Bill Burr was the show right after me. I had my own dressing room, which I was then kicked out of because Bill needed it. And he told me I looked like Drew Barrymore! Which was nice, but he had not watched my show.Sally Ann performing at Caroline's On BroadwaySally Ann performing at Caroline's On Broadway (Credit: Jenni Walkowiak)How did you get into the industry?

Honestly...I just dated a lot of comedians and then realized that I was funnier than they were.

Have you also worked outside the arts?

Oh god yes. I’ve been a bartender for years. I actually found a great bartending gig at a gay piano bar where I get to sing and perform! It’s called The Duplex, and I’ve worked there five years. That’s where I got my cabaret chops and I hope it opens again when all this is over. It’s been around for over 70 years and it was actually the bar I went to the night I turned 21. No one bought me a drink.

Can you describe your biggest challenge so far in your career? How did you overcome it?

There were two major incidents in comedy when I felt that my safety was truly threatened. They also lead to me wanting to give up. I’m glad I didn’t! I talk about it at length in the show so I highly encourage all to watch!

Have you noticed any changes in the industry? If so, what? Is there more change you would want to see?

I am extremely happy that creepy men are being called out for bad behavior. Joining comedy as a young woman often means spurning the advances of older comics, many who were childhood heroes. This is the case for many of my peers. No one seemed to care about the inappropriateness then, but they do now. There is still a LOT of work to do, but I can say it is the women in comedy who are leading this movement. So my advice would be to hire more women at every level of the industry.

You’ve been granted the ability to send a message to 16-year-old you. What do you say?

STOP. PLUCKING. YOUR. EYEBROWS. BITCH.

Do you have any advice for young people interested in following your footsteps?

Don’t be afraid to embarrass yourself! YOU WILL. It is a fact. Learn to be okay with it! Because once you aren’t afraid to look like an ass, you will look like a fucking star.

When and where can people watch your show?

It can be found on my websitefunnysallyann.com or theSpaceUK website until the end of January so get to it!

And finally where can people find you?

You can follow me, Sally Ann at @mesallyann on Twitter and Instagram :)


You can watch Half Baked Alaskan on theSpaceUK website for free – go check it out!

Header Image Credit: Jenni Walkowiak

Author

Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe..

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