We’re all mad here | Taylor Glenn

American psychotherapist-turned-comedian Taylor Glenn speaks us ahead of her performance at the Eden’s Standup Comedy Nights on May 11 and 12.

She’s a hoot: Taylor Glenn says her previous career as a psychotherapist helped her stand up comedy “enormously”.
She’s a hoot: Taylor Glenn says her previous career as a psychotherapist helped her stand up comedy “enormously”.

What's funny?

I think it's pretty funny that I'm going to try to define what's funny for MaltaToday!  But then humour is subjective like that, which makes it a tough question. I guess the one thing which defines what's funny is that in some way, you have to tell the truth.  If you can find a way to wrap up what's true in a good gag, sketch, or story, then chances are you're on your way to being funny. Also, hamsters. Hamsters are funny.

How do usually come by jokes?

I often start with what I find disturbing, weird, or irritating in life. There's usually humour below other strong emotions. Sometimes something happens in real life which triggers my writing and makes it into my standup; sometimes it just comes from brainstorming and gathering ideas together. A lot of times, I end up keeping jokes which I've improvised on any given night, too - the audience can inspire you to make up great jokes on the spot.

What's the difference between writing for sketch shows, radio and devising a standup comedy act?

The mediums are all different so the structure is slightly different for each - but the ethos of 'capturing the funny' remains the same. Sketch comedy is usually about characters, and can of course rely on several performers creating a scene, so it can be more visual and dialogue-based to get the gags across.

There's a real 'show, don't tell' policy when it comes to sketch writing, and also, if we're talking live sketch comedy, you don't have to engage directly with the audience as such - it's more like theatre. With standup it's just you, so you have to find a way to engage with the audience on your own along with delivering your set - sure, you can sputter out a rehearsed bit but if you skip building rapport with the audience and reading them, you'll risk a bad response, so in that regard it's an interactive medium rather than just theatrical.

As for radio, it depends on the show you're writing for, but the challenge is often writing what the producer wants and what the show demands, so you sometimes don't have full creative reign - unless it's your show!

Would you say that your previous career as a psychotherapist has helped your comedy in any way?

You've done your research! It helped enormously. In fact I'm doing a show about this at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this August called Reverse Psycomedy where I talk about transitioning from one profession to the other. The main way it helped is simply developing my observational skills, and the lens through which I see the world. I'm not afraid to tackle heavy material and dark stuff, so long as there's a point to it and it's funny. Also I think it helps me deal with insane comedians a little better. That includes myself.

Are you looking forward to performing in Malta?

Very much so! I had a holiday in Malta a few years ago and absolutely loved it. I had a great time exploring the ruins and just touring the island. I remember heading to Mdina on a bus and ending up getting stuck in some really loud celebration - I was just trying to have a relaxing wander around, but that wasn't going to happen! I also remember our taxi driver considered himself a bit of a stand up comic, too - he made jokes every time we passed anything. Maybe if the gig doesn't go well I'll just steal some of his material.

The event will be held at Eden Cinemas. Tickets are at €20. To book log on to: www.edenculture.com.mt or phone: 23 710400.


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