When friends and family told her she should get into comedy eight years ago, former graphic design student and current comedian Andy Erikson’s answer was “eh.” Little did she know it was a great outlet for all her quirkiness and adorable weirdness. From podcasts to books to blogs, she makes people laugh with her wit and forever-a-kid-at-heart personality. You can catch her reviewing pictures of unicorns on her tumblr page (unicornratings.tumblr.com), sharing stories about Minnesota in the book Bright Lights, Twin Cities, or performing on stage with the other finalists of this season’s “Last Comic Standing.”
We spoke via phone to discuss her work, life, and her Marfan Syndrome diagnosis, which she rarely talks about. Marfan Syndrome limits physical abilities as well as other bodily functions, so there are not many up-and-comers in the media to spread awareness. Achieving her dream as a comedian and finalist of “Last Comic Standing,” Erikson has become a role model for her “Mar Fans” all over.
What was it like for you to be on “Last Comic Standing?” So cool, because I was kind of treated like a star. Just being in the Top 100, I got my hair and makeup done and performed on a huge stage. It’s kind of like camp, cause you’re hanging around comics and everyone’s nervous.
What came first: the podcast or standup comedy? Standup then podcast.
Explain your podcast. It’s called “Stuffed Animal Party.” Most people don’t listen to podcasts anymore but this one’s cool, because it’s about eight minutes of live recording at the Comedy Club. Like… I’ll interview Morgan Freeman, but my friend will be Morgan Freeman. Last time, we talked about climate change and found out that it was really caused by a sassy girl named Amanda. Sometimes I’ll interview Sparkles, a unicorn, and we’ll talk about everything that sparkles.
Speaking of podcasts, you first met your husband for a podcast that didn’t exist. He saw me at a comedy show and asked me to do a podcast, quickly made one up, and interviewed me. It was called “Ah! Central Nervous System!” He now does the “Alex Stein Podcast,” where he interviews comedians. He’s really silly — he loves turtles. We got married in a comedy club, and it was a turtle- and unicorn-themed wedding.
Your blog is very well-written. Did you ever write professionally? I’ve always loved doing homework. When I was younger, my friends and I would play and pretend we’re in school again. I would buy homework books and do math for fun. Comedy is just like homework. I get excited thinking about writing. If something doesn’t work out as a joke, I’ll turn it into a blog entry or a short story. I’ve actually written a novel — 90,000 words about homeless people who get superpowers. But I don’t think I’ll publish that.
So you’re a fun, clean comic. People are always confused and think it’s really hard, but that’s just the way my brain works. I don’t even like to say “poop.” My sense of humor comes from wanting to be a kid forever. Growing up, my best friend had five little brothers…and I hung out with those little brothers. I babysat until I was 19 and didn’t even get paid — I wasn’t even sure who was in charge, me or the kids.
You like to laugh with our audience. I’m just acknowledging how silly it is. Even while I’m writing my jokes, I’m thinking “These are dumb…” and then people think it’s funny, and I think that’s weird, so I laugh. Like, yeah, this is weird, guys and I’m having fun!
Do you ever talk about Marfan Syndrome? It’s never been a part of what I want to joke about; I’d rather joke about frogs or trees. But the longer I’ve been doing comedy, the more I’ve wanted to explore the other side of it. One in 5,000 people are born with it, and some don’t even know it! I chose comedy and felt like maybe I was disappointing the world, but I have the chance to make people’s lives better.
Does it affect the way you perform onstage? No. If anything, it changed who I am. I grew up having surgeries and worked hard to try to fit in. But comedy helped me find that different was good. I encourage people to take a risk and take up writing, acting, singing, doing something in public to see how they can affect people.
Any last words for your fans? Stay a kid forever and have fun. Oh, and do something everyday that scares you.