The Joke Has To Be Funny: An Interview With Vee Chattie On Their New Podcast, The Comedy Whore

by Maggie McMuffin on July 20, 2017 · 0 comments

in Interviews

Vee Chattie. (Photo by Mandy Flame, courtesy of Vee Chattie)

One of the best people I have met through sex worker groups is undoubtedly Vee Chattie. We met in person a couple of years ago in the back seat of a car on the way to a hearing at the Capitol.

Vee develops hard-hitting performance art and organizes activist events, but the bulk of their work is stand-up comedy. They took a brief hiatus from stand-up when moving to Seattle a few years ago, but came back to it with force, hitting multiple open mics per night and making a name for themselves as not only a hilarious stand-up, but a tough person who is cool to hang out with. What follows is an edited and condensed version of an interview I did with them via text messaging:

What was the impetus behind The Comedy Whore?

Basically, every time I went to an open mic, comedians (mostly the young male ones, go figure) would ask me questions about work. At first, I just told them I’d answer the question if they bought me a drink, and that request was completely ignored. So, I thought I could just invite them for a sit down and they could ask the questions in a more formal way. And also I could record it and use it for the entertainment value rather than just going home annoyed.

Also, you’ve got them on record being ridiculous. So they can’t ever deny being shitty (if they were being shitty rather than ignorant).

Honestly, it doesn’t take that much to get a comedian on record being shitty.

True.

What was the response of the stand up community? Didn’t you say a bunch of comedians were requesting to be on your show? How have they responded now that the podcast is live?

People seem to generally enjoy what I’m doing. As for people wanting to be on the show, I have recorded a few episodes with some people I’m friendly with, but I also asked a couple people I’ve had issues with the past. Let’s just say they’ll agree to be on the podcast, but they’ll never actually set a date.

Wow. That’s not transparent at all. Like if you’re gonna be an ass just do it. Especially if you’re already doing it on Facebook.

To be fair, I also booked the same person on my Hooker Jokes show, and they didn’t show up to that either. So at least they’re consistent.

Flyer for “Your Hooker Jokes Are Lazy #2”. (Courtesy of Vee Chattie.)

That show was awesome.

Can you tell us about “Your Hooker Jokes are Lazy“?

Sure! Basically, what happens is we have a bunch of comedians go up and tell their best sex-industry related jokes and then they get judged by a panel of sex workers.

Thank you again for letting me judge comedians. Though, honestly, most of them either didn’t tell sex worker jokes or they told very nice ones. It’s like once you gave them a platform for being assholes they chickened out.

Except for Eden, who won. And he is oddly good at satire.

Are you forgetting about the woman who did an entire bit about poisoning her co-workers?

FUCK THAT WOMAN. I was trying to block her out because we were all scared of her. Who poisons their coworkers to get a night off? Just say you’re sick or punch a customer. Don’t poison the dressing room.

It seems like a story that she liked tell on stage and probably got an OK response for from a Muggle audience. I don’t think she realized just how many workers were going to be in the crowd also.

I think in general, people are assholes to people they don’t see. At an open mic or show that they’re booked on, a comedian is in their own space and their own element. At my show, they are in our (sex workers’) space. It’s amazing how much someone’s behavior will change when they’re out of their comfort zone.

That’s like the sex worker-specific ‘not like the other girls’ or internalized misogyny.

Pretty much. I think it’s also important to take into consideration that when she tells that joke in front of a Muggle audience, she is the “expert”. She is the one who worked at the strip club and therefore it’s “OK” for her to tell that joke.

Chattie as Agent Foxx Mulder. (Courtesy of Vee Chattie)

Ugh. Like, great, you have a voice and that’s how you’re using it. Which I try not to get into respectability politics, but I feel like sex workers hurting each other makes Muggles think it’s okay. Like at the very least keep that shit in the club. But I digress.

A lot of your brand as a comedian is you being a sex worker. Do you find that’s the material people expect from you? Do you have to fight to use material not related to sex work?

I mean, I talk about work on stage, but I wouldn’t say that it’s necessarily my brand. The podcast definitely has that theme, but I don’t actually have that much work-specific material. That stuff is tricky to tell on stage, especially when you don’t have very much time to establish context.

I guess I have mostly seen you at sex worker adjacent events because I am the worst friend. And besides, you’ve been doing character work. People are really digging Special Agent Foxxx Mulder.

Yeah, I did Mulder for a show where the theme was TV characters doing stand up. People really liked it and I got booked a couple more times for that character.

The few minutes I saw of it were pretty great.

How do you think comedy ties in with activism? How can telling jokes help change minds and the world?

Laughter is an involuntary response. If you can make somebody laugh, it means that you’ve already taken down their defenses a little bit and they are more likely to absorb your message. You can’t just shoe horn activism into your comedy though. The joke has to be funny first and foremost or you are not going to get anywhere.

If it’s not funny first you’re just giving a lecture.

Exactly.

That’s a great way of looking at it. Which stand up comics do you recommend to people?

There are so many great ones. Some of my faves are Maria Bamford, James Adomian, Cameron Esposito, and Anthony Jeselnik. Seattle actually has a really great comedy scene. People like El Sanchez, Alyssa Yeoman, and Emmett Montgomery are doing some excellent stuff locally and I would highly recommend seeing anything they’re involved with.

You can find Vee Chattie on twitter (@VeeChattie) and most other social media. The Comedy Whore is available for download on iTunes (Vee loves it when people leave reviews!) 

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