Standup spotlight: Who the F is Andy Erikson?
For a lot of aspiring standup comics, their material comes from painful past experiences, topical current events, or just witty observations about everyday life. But for Andy Erikson, her comedy stemmed from a much scarier place.
"I used to work at Walmart, and it gave me tons of awesome material," she says.
A long-time blogger, Andy has managed to transition her stories from MySpace to the stage over the past few years, and has quickly become one of the Twin Cities' most talented up-and-coming comics.
Who the F is Andy Erikson?
As a student at the University of Minnesota, comedy writing came naturally to Andy. Still, standup wasn't something she ever thought was a viable career option.
"I always thought that it was just something that people did for fun; I didn't know you could do it as like, a job," she says.
Even though she may not have had long-term aspirations, Andy's friends convinced her to try telling her stories onstage at the Acme Comedy Co.'s open mic night on August 27, 2007 (not that she's keeping track or anything).
"The first time I did it, I showed up at like 4; sign-up doesn't even start until 6 so I just hung out," she recalls. "It was a really big night because it was the week of the semi-finals of the Funniest Person contest, so there was a lot of people there watching. I got up and did some stuff from my blog and people laughed. It was really amazing being up there, and then the red warning light came on so I just scrambled and ran off the stage."
While her first experience went well, Andy struggled to find more opportunities to brush up on her standup skills.
"I was afraid to talk with the other comics because I was intimidated by them, and so I really didn't know where else to go for open mic nights," she says. "Then I read online that one of the best ways to get stage time is to host your own open mic, so I started one at my apartment."
"Wait, that sounds weird. I didn't have it in my actual apartment -- there was a theater area in my complex and my landlord said I could hold a weekly open mic there."
Soon enough, Andy's non-weird open mic night started to draw a steady stream of comics and fans alike. "I would order pizza for all the comics so that they would come over and hang out, and I would host the show. It was pretty cool because people from the apartments would hear about it and bring their friends; it got pretty big. I think after I moved out they stopped doing it though."
Who the F cares about Andy Erikson?
Once she got comfortable in the comedy game, she started seeking out some big names to help her develop her material.
"I took a comedy internship with Rooftop Comedy in San Francisco, which was awesome because I got tons of really good experience," she says. "I got to meet the Human Giant guys and get advice about writing and stuff, and I was like, 'Oh my God! You're on TV!' So that was cool."
Aside from networking, the internship also taught her a valuable comedy lesson: how to deal with hecklers.
"It was really good for me because I got heckled one time and I had no idea how to handle it," Andy says. "It was like my fourth time on stage, and I didn't really get heckled but this guy shouted out, 'We can't hear you!' On top of that, nobody was laughing so I just ran off the stage and started crying. I looked back on it later and realized that I should learn how to deal with that, because crying probably doesn't solve anything."
In addition to learning how to not cry, Andy has also worked with comedians including Doug Benson and local favorite Chad Daniels, and has participated in some of the country's biggest festivals including the Aspen Comedy Festival as well as the Boston Comedy Festival.
Where the F is Andy Erikson going?
Of all the comics in the Twin Cities, Andy is definitely one of the busiest. Aside from her standup dates, Andy also films a regular web series called How do you do? for MPLS.TV, where she tackles hard-hitting topics like, "How do you become a hipster?" and "How do you deal drugs?" She's also involved with a local nonprofit group called Project Footsteps and is a part of a sketch-comedy group with fellow local standup Tommy Ryman.
"I'm unemployed, man, so I'm just keeping busy."
Even with her success locally, Andy has still set her sights on even bigger goals in the future. "I'd love to write for a TV show someday," she says. "If I could write for something like 30 Rock that would be amazing."
Where the F can you see Andy Erikson next?
In addition to checking her out on MPLS.TV, Andy is hitting the road this spring with dates in Wisconsin and South Dakota, before featuring at the Joke Joint Comedy Club in St. Paul June 16-18. For more information and to get more Andy Erickson action all in your face, check out her website at www.andyerikson.com.
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