MEET HALEY DRISCOLL
BY JAMES GOLD
Colorado native. College graduate. Commuter. Office worker. Actress. Improv-iser. Comedian.
I didn’t catch up with her recently, but I met her somewhere.
Specifically, we met at the Laughing Goat on Pearl Street in Boulder— a coffee joint where students and hipsters and yuppies go to stare judgingly over their laptops across the room at one another… a spot with excellent pastries and beers, for a coffee place.
The joint was busy with the clattering of cups and plates and baristas pulling shots.
Haley came in, smiling and warm, mixing easily with the youthful vibe of the joint.
We had a great talk, and as it turns out, she is a very interesting, sweet and naturally hilarious person.
She initially has a shy demeanor, but anyone who has seen her perform, knows that she’s anything but that.
Here are some bits from our chat:
JG: What is your earliest memory of performing?
HD: Probably that would be tap dancing when I was five or six. And I hated it. I hated the whole conformity of everyone having to do the same dance moves. There’s actually a picture of me in a little red velvet dress looking sooo confused and upset.
JG: Do you have this photo on you?
HD: (laughs) No, but I think it’s on the internet.
JG: How did you arrive at a life of performing comedy?
HD: Well, I’ve always done acting, my whole life. In my senior year of high school I got involved in Madcap theater (an improv company), in Westminster.
I’ve been doing improv for about 7 years now and I love that. Two or three summers ago I went out to LA and studied with IOS and did the Groundlings, Second City. After that I went to Amsterdam and Italy and toured around Italy doing improv.
JG: Um… that sounds amazing. When was the first time you tried stand up?
HD: The first time wasn’t at an open mic or anything. It was at Impulse, in Denver. They do an improv thing there. But one time they booked out a standup show. So the first time I did it was a sold out show with standing room only, with all family and friends. So it was a pretty positive first time experience.
JG: Since you have an improv background… when it comes to standup comedy, do you prepare an act or do you go onstage and just wing it, since you’ve developed those sorts of skills?
HD: Oh no, I’ve gotta prepare.
Improv is mostly acting, and I love character work.
I feel like I’m good at feeling out what the audience is enjoying.
JG: How confident are you, inwardly, when performing stand up?
HD: When I’m onstage, I feel incredibly confident. Because I’ve been onstage a lot. But when it comes to writing jokes… one thing I’ve struggled with is telling a joke again. I get real bored. Especially if I look around and I’m seeing a ton of people who have seen me do the same jokes before.
JG: Do you do open mics?
HD: I like to do Kingas. It’s not too late and usually you can get on early and not be there too long.
I used to get so frustrated at the first open mics I started going to. Three Kings is pretty brutal.
It’s so easy there for people to just not pay attention. And you basically end up talking to open space until you finally make some connections.
It’s especially hard if you’re a lady. Having to be in those seedy bars late at night.
JG: What do you feel your strengths are?
HD: I think it’s my experience when I get up there, I can tell new jokes with confidence. When I go up there, I don’t freak out. I kinda know that even if this isn’t great, I just keep going. The stakes always feel so high, but it’s just one show. My weakness, on the other hand, is actually finding the time to sit down and write shit down.
JG: What is your joke writing process?
HD: Twitter has actually helped me out quite a bit, with figuring out joke formats and getting the seed of something that I think is funny. And sometimes I’ll have a few ideas and it will just hit me suddenly, how I can connect them all. I’m still in the process of trying to figure out what method works best for me, though.
JG: How would you describe your stand up?
HD: I’m realizing more and more that it’s real silly. It’s really, really goofy. It’s a lot of characters and silly plays on words.
JG: Who are some of your favorite comics?
HD: I saw Dan St. Germain recently… he was so goddamn funny. I would also say Brian Regan, Jim Gaffigan, and I like a lot of Lewis Black’s stuff, when he’s not too in your face political. Oh! And Maria Bamford is probably one of my favorites. She’s so good and so weird and nobody can do her jokes. Nobody can steal her jokes because no one can do them like her. She’s so unabashed about how mentally unstable she is.
JG: So regarding the upcoming show at the Dairy… have you performed much in Boulder?
HD: Yeah, at CU Boulder where I got my theatre degree and I did the Shakespeare festival there.
JG: What do you think about Boulder?
HD: It’s so hard to get people to come out of Boulder to go anywhere, even Westminster. But it’s really beautiful and the people are really nice.
JG: Have you done anything at the Dairy?
HD: Yeah. I actually did a drama (play) there called “Bug.” Right after I graduated school.
JG: What do you see in your future?
HD: Well, I’m with a commercial agency and I’ve done a few commercials and short films. So I’ll see how the standup thing goes. I know that I have some good bits and I know that I’m generally funny. It’s such a craft though. Figuring out who people perceive you to be onstage and what kind of humor that’s most conducive to that.
JG: What’s the best advice you’ve gotten regarding stand up?
HD: To just commit to it for a good amount of time of trying it out before you think about discarding it. Those first couple of months of open mics is really hard and frustrating.
JG: And what advice would you give, to someone starting out?
HD: Carry around a notebook. Write down everything that you think is funny or could be something. Also, don’t be discouraged by other comics. Don’t get intimidated. I get really intimidated by other comics sometimes, so I get that.
You can see Haley Driscoll perform this Saturday, July 13th, at the Dairy Comedy Show.
Tickets and more information can be found at www.thedairy.org