Maddie Wiener is one of the few young female comics in the North Carolina comedy scene.
Staff writer Sabrina Zirkle spoke with Wiener about her comedic career, inspirations and what it's like being a young woman surrounded by divorced dads.
The Daily Tar Heel: How did you get into stand-up comedy?
Maddie Wiener: When I was 16, in my sophomore year of high school, I went to an open mic night. I met someone who was one of my best friends now, and they were really supportive and told me about other open mics in the area. It was really fun, and I kinda just kept doing it after that.
DTH: Has anything about your comedy changed since graduating from high school?
MW: Definitely. I’m coming up on three years doing it, and I’ve noticed I’ve gotten better. In the grand scheme of things, I’m a little infant comedy-wise. Some of my material was about being in high school, and then I found things that were more universally relatable. It’s not so much about being out of high school, but the amount of time I’ve been doing stand-up. Jokes that I used to think I’d keep forever, I’m now like, “Are you kidding me? It’s garbage!” And I’m sure jokes now, in a year, I’ll feel the same way.
DTH: Who are your comedic inspirations? What is your genre of comedy?
MW: Louis C.K. is amazing. I really like Eddie Murphy, Maria Bamford, Dave Attell, Bill Burr [and] Patrice O’Neal. There are so many. As far as genre of comedy goes, I guess a little bit on the darker side. But my goal is to do something everyone can enjoy and appreciate.
DTH: Why do you think your comedy has been successful so far?
MW: Hopefully because it’s funny! There’s not a lot of younger comics on the scene. There’s not a lot women, or girls around my age doing it. I guess I’ve built a niche around it. But I don’t want to use that as a crutch. I’d like to just be funny, period. We should be doing more for women, but I feel it’s important to have that pressure to compete with everyone regardless of age. There’s only a few women in the Triangle writing from that perspective.
DTH: What are the challenges of being a young woman in the comedy genre?
MW: It’s been really amazing. I’ve heard horror stories. Everyone in the scene has been really, really supportive and welcoming. I’m an 18-year-old girl, and lot of my best friends are divorced dads. It’s weird, but they’ve been the coolest people. I really haven’t had anyone be creepy or predatory toward me. My parents have been cool with me going out to bars after school to a show that starts at 8 in Greensboro, Raleigh, Winston-Salem [and] Charlotte and getting back at 2 a.m., then going to school the next day. If my parents weren’t cool with it, it would have been really hard. It’s weird not seeing a lot of people like you. A lot of comics, period, are guys. It’s weird wanting to emulate (them). I find myself acting more masculine because it’s in an inherent part of it.
DTH: What is the Chapel Hill comedy scene like? Have you noticed any changes since the closing of DSI/are you looking forward to the opening of the PIT (Peoples Improv Theater) theater?
MW: Well the DSI, where I did my first open mic, I haven’t been that involved with them recently. It’s obviously really upsetting hearing about it. And I don’t want to sound insensitive to other women comics, because it’s definitely an issue in comedy and in the world in general. From my perspective, DSI was more improv-focused. The Chapel Hill scene — I look at it more as in the whole state. I drive out six nights a week, so a lot of people you see performing at Chapel Hill travel from all over the state to be here. I run a show with my friend Rob Davis and Kenyon Adamcik at the Local 506 every month. Our headliners come as far as Charlotte or Wilmington. We also do a mic at Northside, Chapel Hill, so a lot of the comics you see there are driving from all over the state. There’s a surprisingly strong scene in North Carolina. It’s not like Atlanta or Chicago, but there’s a lot of really talented people here.
DTH: Where would you like to see yourself go with this?
MW: I actually just applied to Columbia College Chicago. I’d like to go to college in Chicago then go to New York. If I could just make a living doing this, I would be so, so super super happy.
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