In the new Hulu series Difficult People, its main characters, played by Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner, shine a light on the indignity of bombing at an open mic night in NYC. It’s funny because they just don’t understand why no one laughed.
A new sitcom called Thanks For Having Us shines a similar light on the Austin, Texas, comedy scene, where one can attempt to go up on stage every night of the week.
The pilot is being funded via Indiegogo, and writer/director/producer Sara June, who’s been doing open mics for about three years, says she and fellow co-writers Christina Parrish and Katherine Swope started writing the show last year as a webseries, but scenes were eventually distilled into a pilot.
“The whole premise of an open mic is hilarious,” she admits. “Especially when you take into account that there’s nobody there except other comics. It just makes it even more ridiculous. …The only way you can get better is just to fail a bunch.”
The four main characters—Christina (Parrish), Lex (Caroline Bassett), Pia (Cené Hale), and Bridget (Natalie Shea)—are comedians, but their stage time and jokes aren’t exactly the focus; their relationships and connections with each other are.
“I think if you have a show with four girls, it’s going to inevitably be compared to Sex and the City,” June said. “But I think it’s a great number, because then you can have two weird pairs. There’s a lot of shows where it’s one weird pair, but I like groups of four. And then you can assign each of them an element.”
Parrish admits she’s playing a version of herself, with, of course, the worst parts heightened.
“I do a lot of dark comedy,” she said. “My jokes are kind of dark, but I’m trying to lighten them up with some dog stuff.”
As the Indiegogo page explains, one “impact” the creators are hoping to have is to eradicate the old “women aren’t funny” line. Parrish says she’s gotten the backhanded compliment “I usually don’t like female comics, but you were really good,” but they see that the tide is shifting, and women are getting more visibility.
“I think also a lot of old-world people have died,” Parrish explained.
“Oh, all the old people are dying,” June added. “That’s a big one. Old people who will like never, ever believe that a woman will make them money as a comic. They’re dying, which is nice.”
Screengrab via Sara June/Vimeo