There’s a comedy boom happening around the country that hasn’t been seen since the 1980s when stand-up comedy was in its heyday. New venues are popping up like wild mushrooms, comedy clubs like Rooster T. Feathers in Sunnyvale are surviving the economic downturn, three-minute comedy sketches go viral every day, and political pundits are peppering their analyses with jokes and buffoonery.
One of the epicenters of this century’s comedic earthquake is The Comedy Studio in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass. Starring breakout comics like Russian-born Eugene Mirman (FOX’s Bob’s Burgers) and Myq Kaplan (Comedy Central), this is a room where laughter originates and emanates from. One of the latest sensations to shake the studio’s walls is Erin Judge (Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham).
You might remember when Judge and Santa Cruz native Ailin Conant tore up the Broadway Playhouse back in 2009 with their two-woman show, “The Meaning of Wife.” “Ailin and I had always wanted to work together and we had both just recently been married—me to a man, her to a woman,” Judge says, from her home in New York City. “So we came up with a concept that explored the role of wife and the meaning of wife—exploring how we felt about our new social roles. It was an ‘out there’ comedic piece with a lot of monologues and scenes from our lives and really absurd stuff.”
On March 30-31, Judge will make a triumphant return to Santa Cruz, thanks to San Francisco entrepreneurs Rooftop Comedy, who have asked her to record a live comedy album for their label. When asked where she wanted to record it, Judge chose the Broadway Playhouse.
“I am excited to bring my act to Santa Cruz,” she says. “Santa Cruz audiences are smart, informed, interested in politics and social issues, and ready to laugh along with my point of view … It’s fun to get to bring a full hour of comedy to a new audience and to record it for release.”
With a stuffed suitcase of well-ironed material that focuses on the absurdities of life, relationships, and the cosmic dance of love, the young comedienne is ready for what could be a huge break in the business.
Judge started doing stand-up 10 years ago at The Comedy Studio, where she eventually became the host on Sunday nights. Over time, she had the opportunity to run her own show, which she did successfully for two and a half years.
It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that she moved to New York City. “I now produce a show in New York City called ‘The Afterlife’ every Tuesday night. New York is a great place to be and there are amazing comics there, but it’s such an expensive place to live—and if you’re on the road a lot it’s difficult to figure out how to maintain and make it work financially,” says Judge.
From performing as many sets as she can get, to recording podcasts, to constantly writing new material, Judge wants to be as multifaceted as she can. “Comedy is my full-time thing,” she explains. “I cobble together what I can to make money—but, I travel for comedy constantly and make the majority of money playing at colleges.”
Conant—a Santa Cruz High School alumna who now works in Kigali, Rwanda—believes it’s easy for Judge to win over audiences because of the relatable nature of her humor. “Erin is hilarious because the world is hilarious,” explains Conant. “She is a fiercely intelligent and a down-to-earth observer. She articulates the jokes that have been hovering like groupies on the edge of our consciousness, so there’s an ‘Oh wow, totally!’ moment at the peak of each punchline.”
Joining Judge at her upcoming Broadway Playhouse gig will be Bay Area boy wonder Chris Garcia, whom she met at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival in Portland, Ore. last year. He says he’s looking forward to sharing the stage with Judge. “It boggles my mind when a comic with such a distinct point of view doesn’t isolate an audience,” says Garcia. “Erin pulls it off because she’s genuine, smart, and funny as hell.”
Erin Judge will record her first live comedy album at 8 p.m. Friday, March 30 and Saturday, March 31, at The Broadway Playhouse, 526 Broadway St., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $20/general, $15/students. Chris Garcia and Dave Thomason open the show.