Allie Wolfe: Upending Durango’s comedy scene

by Patty Templeton

Allie Wolfe is fresh to this whole comedy thing. She’s been on the scene less than a year and, yet, the jaunty slings and arrows she spills will slay you. Her humor is full of joyous inward jabs, commiserating grins, and nods to the floundering we all do while perambulating to the next paycheck or date night. She is a wonderfully roundabout storyteller with a knowing chin tilt and eyebrows that say more than most comedian’s one-hour specials.

DGO spoke to Wolfe about how she got her start, the confidence to get on stage, and what comedy means to her.

Who are you?I am a student at Fort Lewis, a psychology student. I’m going into art therapy. I really love it. I’m an artist in town. I helped with the Everyday Mural. You know the Firestone Tire Store? We’re going to do that mural, too.

Mostly, I work and do comedy.

What do you do? I’m a caregiver for people on hospice.

How do you transfer that experience into your comedy?I think it is pretty similar. Life is hard. Life is sad. Comedy’s bringing people happiness.

Life can get really tough but when you find that little bit of comedy, you can make someone laugh through a tough situation. That’s important. It’s good. Do you know who Neal Brennan is? He’s a comedian and hysterical and he put it well when he said something like, sometimes life feels like you’re drowning and when you think of a joke it’s like you get a little air bubble and you start to float again.

What got you into comedy?I have an anxiety disorder and I am really afraid of failure. One way to get around that was to appropriate failure and make it more normal in my life so it’s not as debilitating when it happens. So, I started doing stand-up.

Now, I have bad shows, but it isn’t debilitating. Failure is just a part of my everyday life now.

What other comedians have influenced you?Neal Brennan, Mike Birbiglia is probably my favorite, Jenny Slate – I really like, too.

Is there a difference between the comedy you enjoy watching versus the comedy you perform?Totally. Bill Burr, I think he’s really funny but my style is not at all like that. Sometimes people tell me I have a happy-go-lucky style of comedy whereas his is aggressive and in your face.

The stuff I watch is typically different than what I do.

Do you still get scared? If so, how do you deal?Totally. I’ve been doing it less than a year. I just started in October [2016].

I get very nervous. I’m still really new and figuring out my style. Honestly, it’s really easy to deal with it in town. In Durango, there’s so much support – from Dan Korman from Laugh Therapy and Wes Stein from Comedy Showcase, they’re great. Every time I’m nervous, they are so encouraging. You have a support team like a family here.

Are there taboo subjects you won’t touch?I’m taking up hosting Laugh Therapy and my one rule is going to be no rape jokes. I don’t think they’re funny. I don’t think they’re necessary unless it’s a victim dealing with processing it, but that’s a completely different situation.

In my comedy, I talk about LGBTQ issues because I’m bisexual. I talk about suicide awareness. I understand that some things like that are taboo but I also understand I have a platform that people listen to and respect so I want to use that for things I care about.

Are you ready for the fallout of people not understanding why you don’t want rape jokes at Laugh Therapy?Mmhmm.

How are you going to deal with that?Honestly, if you’re someone who is upset about not being able to make rape jokes? Bye. (Laughs) It’s not even something I need to empathize with. Maybe educate about, but not empathize.

It’s usually a laugh at someone else’s expense that I am not OK with. Most of my comedy I try to make about myself and my experiences. It’s not at someone else’s expense. It’s at mine

Are you sick of anything else that happens in comedy?I get it really often that people say, “I don’t think women are funny, but I think you’re funny.” That is not a compliment to me.

When people say no female comedians are funny except for me, that’s problematic. It’s not a compliment. You’re insulting my entire demographic and singling me out. You’re generalizing an entire populace and it is insulting.

What’s your writing process like?I write before a show. A lot of it is stuff I think about and it just kinda happens, but I write before, too, because half of the job is writing. I have a little journal that I write my jokes in. A day before the show I look through it and try to piece it all together.

I usually start with my punchline and work from there. I ask myself, “Where do I want this to go” and “How am I going to call it back?” It’s kind of like a backwards process.

Is comedy the rest of your life or for right now?It wasn’t supposed to be the rest of my life. It was something I started doing to be more OK with failure and then it took off and now I’m realizing that it is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I have to finish my degree first. In five years I’ll either be getting my master’s degree in counseling or moving to Chicago for comedy. I’m not sure which.

Any advice for people who want to dip their toe into comedy?Do it. Absolutely do it.

I hopped up during an open mic. I had no plans to do it and just did it. Literally went up there and was like, (shy voice) “Here’s my joke,” and it was some stupid pun about pumpkin spice or something.

Do it and keep going.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.Patty TempletonDGO Staff Writer


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