I really cannot get over how funny comedian Shannon Hatch is. When you watch her perform, listen to her podcast, read her blog, ALL of it makes you laugh, hard. She is beyond witty, smart, and is truly one of the best joke writers you will currently find anywhere. Add in the fact that she has balls bigger than most do to go there, her all around cuteness while going there, and her absurd love of cheese, and you have what might be the most underrated comic in LA, or anywhere for that matter. (Because love of cheese means something in this crazy world, doesn’t it!?) This interview with Shannon is already a big time favorite. You will laugh out loud multiple times, not in the LOL way, but in the you will really be laughing out loud way. Shitty weeks, reality TV, the holidays, and even a bit of what should be required reading for everyone, everywhere, is discussed. Enjoy!
Serial Optimist: Hey Shannon! How are you? How is the holiday season treating you so far? What is your favorite winter article of clothing to wear? Mittens? What?
Shannon Hatch: I’m good! That’s what I’m supposed to say, right? In all honesty, this week I lost my credit card, $300 cash fell out of my back pocket, and I drove for miles on a flat tire because I thought the noise my car was making was due to my bumper dragging. For whatever reason, I’m actually pretty happy today anyway.
And you’re god damn right my favorite winter article of clothing is mittens. Mine are multifunctional so you can pin back the mitten part to reveal fingerless gloves. I got them at Urban Outfitters because I’m really different from everyone.
SO: Let’s get a good formal introduction. Where are you from? Where do you live now? What kind of music did you listen to in high school?
Shannon: I am from Virginia Beach, VA, went to college in Wilmington, NC, and I live in Los Angeles now. In high school I was a skateboard rat so I listened to only the coolest of punk rock compilations. Think NOFX, Suicide Machines, pretty much easy listening for “cool” high school chicks. My music taste in 5th grade was actually better than in high school because that year I listened to They Might Be Giants exclusively. Ever since I can remember I’ve been obsessed with 80’s music, and my love affair with that decade is still alive and well. And, not that you asked, but I’m currently a fanatic of a little band called The Mountain Goats. I’d hate for people to think I never grew out of my Warped Tour days.
SO: What did you want to be when you were a little kid? What did you want to be in college? When did you realize you wanted to be a comedian?
Shannon: When I was a little kid, I really just wanted to get off the streets and have someone take care of me, you know? Just kidding, I lived on a golf course. All I knew in high school was that I didn’t want to do what my parents did. They own a cheesesteak shop – they’re from Philly and make the best Philly cheesesteaks you can find south of PA – and I hated peeling onions so much I vowed to do anything besides that with my life. In college, I wanted to be a screenwriter or filmmaker, or at least that’s what I told people because it sounded more plausible than “comedian.” Who knew it was actually way harder to get a job as a screenwriter or filmmaker? I know homeless comedians who are really making it work out here.
I think I knew I wanted to be a comedian in Kindergarten when my Dad told me I was the 3rd prettiest girl in my class. He wasn’t lying, I was. And after looking at photos on Facebook now, I think I’m second.
SO: When did you first realize you were funny? Did you have a moment, where you were like, “Shit, I’m funny, and I think I’m even funny enough to make strangers laugh on stage.” How did deciding to take the step to being a stand-up happen for you?
Shannon: I hate to take this back to Kindergarten again, but I will. My parents came home from their first parent-teacher conference, and I asked my Dad how it went. He said, “Miss Marcus took her top off and ran around the classroom. I saw her boobs.” I was five, but I wasn’t stupid. I kept saying, “No, she didn’t!” and he wouldn’t back down from his story. The next day my dad asked me how my day at school was, and I said, “I asked Miss Marcus if she took her top off and ran around the classroom and she said you were lying.” The look of shock on my dad’s face – almost as if he thought he might get turned into authorities – was the funniest thing I’d ever seen in my life. I said, “Just kidding,” and we both agreed, I won that battle.
But being funny in life and being funny on stage are obviously two very different things. Those people who are “the life of the party,” and are always surrounded by throngs of popular people laughing at the stories they tell – they’re not comedians. Well, they might be the type of guys who do shitty road gigs, but they’re not the comics I look up to. The best comics are the ones who have too much anxiety to even go to the party, end up going anyway, make fun of that asshole who’s telling that shitty story everyone’s laughing at, and don’t say goodbye to you when they leave.
As far as taking that step to do stand-up, it was as simple as packing up my Civic, moving here, writing a couple dumb jokes, and shaking like a leaf on stage for the first few months I tried to talk into the microphone. Five years later, I shake a little less. That’s it.
SO: Do you approach comedy from more of a writer’s angle or more of an improvisational angle? How would you describe your style of comedy?
Shannon: I definitely approach comedy from more of a writer’s angle. I’m a strong joke writer, so my first couple years I told a lot of offensive one-liners, pretty much none of which were true. You can only tell so many abortion jokes before you start to feel bad that you’ve never had one. I’ve ditched most of that stuff and am a little more real now. I mean, sometimes I’ll still close on this joke about sleeping with a black guy, but I’m confident that one day I will. Thus giving the joke and myself a little more street cred.
I would describe my comedy as trivial, but dark. Lately my opening joke has been about a mentally retarded girl who went on “The Tyra Show” for a makeover, but I expected her to not look so retarded after the makeover. I’d rather talk about shitty yogurt commercials than politics because, well, I know a lot more about shitty yogurt commercials. But I do try to say something, to have some kind of substance or point to my bits. There’s nothing worse to me than a comedian who you watch for 10 minutes, and then they get off stage and you think, “I wonder what that person’s like.” You should know.
SO: You are hilarious. Truly. I spent that last few days watching as many videos of you that I could find, and really enjoying everything you post on “I Hope The Worst Isn’t Over.” You have jokes that are so good, it’s makes you wonder how no one has thought of them before. “As it turns out, you can fake an orgasm, but end up with a real baby.” THAT IS SO GREAT! And that is just one of so many great jokes. I guess I don’t really have a question with that, so I’ll just ask: How often do you do perform? Do you go on the road much?
Shannon: God, I could listen to you talk about me all day. I usually perform about 3 or 4 times a week. Mostly bars, some theatres, and the occasional comedy club. I don’t go on the road much. I did, however, just get back from doing a half hour at a Christmas party in Bakersfield, where apparently a woman from the party was taking a dump in the bathroom after the show and overheard me talking shit about Bakersfield. I was told, “to be more professional” in a subsequent email from the booker.
SO: When did you start your podcast “The Worst?” It’s all about the worst in pop culture each week. That has to be a blast to do. What is the format? Do you always have guests or co-hosts? Where can people find it?
Shannon: I started “The Worst” 3 or 4 months ago, which is technically a webcast, but I call it podcast because “webcast” just sounds so…well, I think I’m the only fully-clothed girl in LA with her own webcast. Yes, we count down the 10 worst stories in pop culture of the week. My co-host is Mark Ellis, , and Jayson Thibault are frequently on. Again, all underrated comics. The second you get a high rating, you’ve lost me. Find it live on www.comedy.com every Tuesday at 2pm (PST)., one my favorite underrated comics in the city. And my guests vary, but
SO: What would you consider some of the worst in pop culture of 2010? It’s been a GREAT year for celebrity worse-ish-ness.
Shannon: My favorite pop culture story from 2010 is hands down Bed Intruder guy. Someone remixes a news story he’s on and the next thing you know, he’s buying a house for his family and getting Brazilian Blowouts with that sweet iTunes cash. Good for you! <said in Christian Bale’s rant voice> And those Mel Gibson phone calls were just the gifts that kept on giving. I’m a firm believer that Mel wanted to knock Oksana’s teeth out because she had a habit of giving toothy blow jobs. So before we judge him, let’s consider that possibility.
SO: Who is your favorite celebrity that you love to hate?
Shannon: Kate Gosselin. Because, with Bristol Palin, you can’t blame her because she’s too young to know better and was raised by wolves who were raised by Satan. And Tiger Woods is a borderline billionaire, so he can do whatever the hell he wants. But you know you’re an asshole when Jon Gosselin has better judgment than you do. She’s pimping her kids out on that show – two of whom just got expelled from their school because they’re injuring kids and adults. The extent of these injuries hasn’t been released, but my guess is they’re biting people because TLC’s not giving them adequate lunch breaks while filming. And the kids who weren’t expelled have been telling their Kindergarten classmates that Santa’s not real. I think kids should be allowed to believe in Santa Claus as long as adults are allowed to believe in Jesus. It’s only fair.
SO: Why are you not the spokesperson for Cheez-It yet? What is the craziest cheese concoction you have ever made that sounds gross but was delicious?
Shannon: I love this question. Of course, any layman off the street can dip Cheez-Its in Nutella, but only cheezitslut herself waits until she gets to the bottom of the box and uses all the broken ones as an ice cream topping. That’s what a real woman tops her sundae with. Sorry for the 3rd person response there. I got carried away.
SO: Who are some of your favorite current comedians? Who really makes you laugh?
Shannon: I get it. It’s name drop time. Let me clear my throat. Some of my favorite comics to watch are Natasha Leggero, Brody Stevens, Brady Novak, Eddie Pepitone, Lizzy Cooperman, TJ Miller, Danielle Stewart, Renee Gauthier, Kyle Kinane, Cornell Reid, Josh McDermitt, , and muscleman Mike Burns. Some are friends; others might have a Google Alert on their name, see this article and think, “Who the fuck is Shannon Hatch?” But all of them are absolutely hilarious to me.
SO: What daily things in life make you smile?
Shannon: On a bad day, other people’s misery really helps me out. On a good day, eating oysters, hearing that song “Your Love” by The Outfield on the radio, catching my cats getting along, finding some great discount on boots I don’t need, watching a new episode of Cold Case Files, my boyfriend admitting something’s his fault, getting to use a semicolon correctly in an interview (see previous question), all kinds of things make me smile. Today in particular, a callback would make me the happiest. Not from a casting director or anything. My best friend from home hasn’t called me back in months because she’s dating “the other guy” in N.E.R.D. and I guess she’s “busy.”
SO: What is the scariest thing about getting on stage, and performing live? Do you have a horrible story you can share?
Shannon: The scariest thing about getting on stage for me is the first joke. If they don’t like you up top, it’s going to be a long seven minutes. Or longer than seven minutes if you’re some kinda big timer.
A month ago at Flapper’s Comedy Club I opened with that Tyra retard joke and then said, “I like Tyra, I feel like she’s like Oprah, but just more molested,” and a girl stood up from her table and screamed, “I was molested! And that is not funny!” I spent the rest of my set trying to dig myself out of the deepest hole you can imagine. Most of the audience was her coworkers…were her coworkers…whatever, they all fuckin’ worked together, so no one felt like they could laugh at anything else I said because I had offended some girl who got her twat touched. It was awful. Ten minutes of utter hell. I’d compare it to being molested, but thankfully all of my uncles just wanted to be friends.
SO: I’m sweating just thinking about that! Horrible hell!
SO: What is the best/horrible reality show on TV? What are you hooked on?
Shannon: Bad Girls Club. Anyone who doesn’t watch this show should be ashamed of themselves. It’s one of the last reality shows where the plot lines aren’t written by story producers who are convinced they’re working with actors. I can’t watch The Kardashians, Jersey Shore, or even Real Housewives shows anymore because you can practically see them squinting to read their cue cards. And unless the Bad Girls Club producers tell these girls to drop N-bombs and train them to fight against Manny Pacquiao, this shit is real. Blood is shed. And almost no one gets kicked off the show.
SO: Tell me about your Christmas and NYE plans. Are you the kind of person who gets really into the holiday spirit?
Shannon: Nah, I’m not super into the holidays. I do have a couple snowflake themed outfits I get excited to rock this time of year, but you’re not gonna find me stealing Baby Jesus out of a manger somewhere. On Christmas, I think I’ll be in an airport on my way to muscleman Mike Burns’ parents’ place in Michigan. And New Year’s I’m going to have a small gathering at my parents’ house in Virginia, because I’d rather eat my dad’s lamb lollipops and let my mom pour me champagne all night than fight the crowds. Plus, DUI’s on the east coast are way worse because it turns out you have to go back to the east coast to deal with them.
SO: What are a few things you hope to happen for you both personally and professionally in 2011?
Shannon: Personally, I’d like to find work than enables me to pay for my car insurance without the use of a high-interest credit card, and professionally, I’d like to get laid more often.
SO: Are you a hugger or a handshaker?
Shannon: I’m a hugger. I think it makes people happy to get hugs. But if I don’t like you, I’m an avoid eye contact-er. All the way.
SO: If people take away only one thing from this interview, what would you want that to be? What would you like the world (because the world reads Serial Optimist, or at least that’s what I tell my parents) to know about you?
Shannon: I think They Might Be Giants said it best: “No one in the world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful.”
You might be some billionaire housewife, but you’re pissed you got beat out for the “prostitution whore” role on that reality show. Or maybe you’ve raised a family and found success, but you’re constantly worried your kids don’t like you. I don’t think I know anyone who sleeps well at night without the help of drugs. God damn, I sound like the Serial Pessimist. What I’m trying to say is that it’s perfectly healthy to feel like failures sometimes, because this world would be so bland and boring if we were always satisfied. So while you’re on this earth, you should do what makes you happy (unless you’re a pedophile). With any hope, the legacy you leave will be worth a few people telling a good story or two about you after you go. Oh, and stop fucking bullying gay kids. Is that gay to say? Seriously, though, let’s not do that. And thanks so much for interviewing me!
SO: Those are some of the best, BEST words I have read in a long time. That last answer could be framed, really. Thank you Shannon, you are awesome!