Julia Lebow’s got her hands full. Classwork aside, she’s the head writer for Emerson Comedy Workshop, a staff writer for the Emerson late night show Closing Time, and now, as of this past Summer, she’s one third of the comedy troupe/show Live From The Rib of Adam: The Maggie, Magi, & Julia Show. The show, created by Lebow, Maggie Noren & Magi Calcagne, consists of a blend of stage pieces and pre-taped sketches, many of which are currently in post-production. While Lebow says their comedy stylings all come from different places, the show is ultimately rooted in humor surrounding the female experience.
“I like doing this 3 women show so much because I feel like Maggie, Magi and I all just kinda got to sit down and be like “you know what’s fucking absurd about being a woman? this thing and then the rest of us would be like “holy shit yeah” and we’d just riff for hours because we all had this common ground to work off of.”
But their presence isn’t limited to The Maggie, Magi, & Julia Show– recently, Lebow took part in an all female stand up show hosted by Calcagne. And then there’s the all-lady rec Basketball league she’s working on alongside Noren. So get excited! There’s a lot more coming and it’s bound to be fun.
To help you get amped, please enjoy this interview with Lebow:
What is it about comedy writing that you feel you’re drawn to?
Nothing feels better than making people laugh. I love absurdity and it feels extremely powerful to be able to point out what’s absurd to you and have your peers be like “woah yeah me too” and get to laugh about it together.
Second, I’d say I’ve always approached creativity in kind of a math/science way and comedy feels super conducive to that approach. It’s extremely structured, to the point that it’s almost algebraic for me. Even writing more “alt comedy” (which i guess I’d say I prefer) feels like working outside of a structure which is a structure itself in some ways.
Writing comedy feels like puzzle solving a lot of the time and my brain gets a big ol’ boner for that.
Was comedy writing/performing something you’d been doing before you came to Emerson?
I realized I liked comedy in high school through writing for my school newspaper. We had a humor section and I became the editor of that my senior year. It was pretty much the only thing that 17 year old me had ever taken seriously so I kinda knew I had to run with that.
Then I came to Emerson and began doing stand-up because it seemed like the easiest and most readily available way to start doing comedy. Through that I realized that adding performance to comedy gave me more options and more control over what I wanted to be funny and again I just kind of ran with it.
[Writing for the EVVY’s] really opened me up to being in a writers room and collaborative comedy which has since become one of my favorite ways to write. Again – this probably goes back to collaboration in a lot of ways being the most efficient way to create content. I know the whole “two brains better than one” thing is a cliche but it can be so true with comedy. That’s why I keep several brains in jars to help me retain my youth.
Do you feel like you’ve gotten a good sense of the highs and lows associated with comedy?
Yes and no. So much of your ego is wrapped up in comedy and performance and creating that– yes, I’ve absolutely felt both intense highs and intense lows throughout the process. But in some ways it also feels like the best and worst are yet to come. At least within the Emerson comedy scene, the stakes are super low compared to what they will be outside of it– which are the actual “make it or break it” moment that my career and financial stability will rely on.
“Everyone – not just white dudes – should feel some sort of entitlement, some sort of specialness, where they think ‘maybe the things that I think are funny are actually universally funny.’ “
How conscious are you of your role as a female comedian? Is it something you’re always thinking about, or do you not really care at this point?
So conscious. The degree to which I’m conscious really depends on what setting I’m creating/performing in. For example – boston open mics. It’s super obvious because maybe 2 out of 30 people that get up there are women and the 28 that aren’t spend the whole time talking about their dicks and being a man.
I’m not against people talking about their own in experiences (in the case of men usually being masculine experiences) because that’s where comedy breeds, but it can just get disheartening to watch 20 of the same dudes think that they can tell the same damn story because they have a microphone and– I don’t know, entitlement?
I’m not even trying to take that entitlement away from those dudes. Because maybe one day it will grow into them understanding what their “thing” is and becoming a standup I’d actually want to watch.
But I would like to take that entitlement and distribute it to a way more diverse group. I wanna see more women and POC on stage because everyone – not just white dudes – should feel some sort of entitlement, some sort of specialness, where they think ‘maybe the things that I think are funny are actually universally funny.’ I won’t lie– I do think it gives me an edge being slightly different from the parade of dudes that went before me but I’d still rather abandon that edge for a more diverse comedy scene in a heartbeat.
On their Basketball Skills:
[Maggie Noren and I] both ball. I made a half court shot the other day at the Emerson gym. Maggie was there. She can confirm.