Photograph courtesy of Deaf Sound Production
Sam Dee is a comedian from Kent, OH. She has a sassy, acerbic wit that is both clever and assaultingly funny. Not limited to traditional standup, Dee dabbles with characters and bits. She will be performing on 8/29 in Cleveland at the Grog Shop, 2785 Euclid Height Blvd., 44106. Doors: 830. Cover: $5.
Tell me a little about your background?
I am the oldest of seven children so I’ve always had to try really hard to get anyone to listen to me. I’ve never been particularly good looking, or a snappy dresser, so I had to rely on my humor to make friends. It was always a trait I really admired in people so I worked at it myself. I have bits and characters I’ve done since I was a kid. When I was young I would record skits, radio shows, or embarrass my loved ones in public. Creating things or experiences have been a driving force for me. Whether it’s film, knitting/crochet, sewing, drawing, sculpture, etc…, I always surrounded myself with artists. But once I found my circle of comedians, I knew that’s where I wanted to be: among people whose mental illness was just as severe as my own.
How would you describe your style of comedy?
Observational and dark, sprinkled with non sequiturs, then delivered in a warm approachable manner in 30 minutes or less…or your money back!
How long were you involved in comedy before you began to establish your confidence?
I think you need to have quite a lot of confidence just to start. I had to get so many supportive pep talks before I could do anything. You gotta create a sickly little ego monster to care for. It forces you to go out to keep feeding the horrible beast with a hearty balance of pay offs and bombs or it’ll shrivel up. It’ll suck ya dry and you end up becoming a husk of your former self. Well, at least in my experience.
What is your take on the Cleveland/Akron comedy scene?
As in, one versus another? Like Batman vs. Superman? I’d definitely root for Batman.
What is your favorite room to play?
My favorite is now gone. It was the Stone Tavern in Kent. It was just the right mix of people. I always did well there. It was a place to feel comfortable delivering new bits. They were game to see something weird, which is what I do. They continue running shows at Water Street Tavern next door but it does’t have the same “devil may care” atmosphere.
I recently caught you at Chad Weaver’s Thrill or be Thrilled monthly show in Akron. You performed a terrific send-up of a Ted Talk. Is delivering a live bit different than standup?
They’re pretty similar. I prefer doing characters and bits more than strictly stand up. I feel more comfortable because if people don’t like it I can tell myself, “Oh they just didn’t like the character,” and hide behind that façade. But when I bomb doing standup as myself it’s harder to disassociate and makes denial difficult.
What was it like performing in New York City?
I went to New York to visit friends so I thought I’d try to get in a show while I was there. I did a bunch of research before I chose. (Really it came down to which place is closer to my friend’s house.) A lot of open mics charge you to go on because they’re so saturated with comedians. I ended up at Franklin Bar in Brooklyn after emailing them. I couldn’t have been happier about it. The hosts were so kind and the room was great. It was the best experience I’d had in comedy. I never wanted to leave. I stayed as long as I could and even helped put away chairs at the end of the night.
What do you consider to be a ‘perfect’ joke?
One that is surprising. It should have an off the cuff delivery with a pinch of theatrics. Maria Bamford is an example of my perfect comedian.
What’s the best piece of advice you have received regarding comedy?
My comedy mentor, the indelible Ryne DiPerna, always told me to talk myself up before going on stage. He said to repeat a mantra, “You’re the shit, Alexei! You’re the shit! You’re the shit! You’re the shit!,” which was made famous by star of National Treasure, and national treasure himself, Nicholas Cage. It works every time.
You are performing at the 8/29 edition of ‘Make ’em Laugh Mondays’ at the Grog Shop in Cleveland. What do you have planned for that night?
I’m excited for the show (Make Em Laugh Modays), it’s a great room run by John Bruton and Nelsin Davis. My set will be stand up jokes I’ve been working out so hopefully it’ll go well and they ask me to come back. Fingers crossed!
Sam Dee will be performing on 8/29 in Cleveland at the Grog Shop, 2785 Euclid Height Blvd., 44106. Doors: 830. Cover: $5.
Interviewer: Zep the Bear