Feature Act

Whether they be headliners in their own right, or just those setting new comedy standards in Columbus–From improv t stand-up to everything in between– (614) introduces a new series on the people handling the city with humor.

This month: Sarah Storer, erstwhile leader of Hashtag Comedy, and one-woman virtuoso (11.28 @ Shadowbox Bistro) answers (mostly) our 20 questions.

When did #Hashtag comedy start? How did it start?

We started five years ago after all taking a class together. I’ll be honest, I didn’t think it would last, but we decided early on to start meeting every Monday for rehearsal (which we still do to this day), and it grew into its own monster from there.

Tell me about your first time on stage.

I literally have no idea when I first hit the stage! My dad is a pastor, so we were “on stage” and performing or singing pretty much near birth. I’d say the first time I was on stage that felt “professional” was in college when I was cast as the lead in one of the mainstage productions.

When did you realize you were funny?

I’ve always loved making people laugh. I remember a time when I was very young making a group of adults laugh and then sort of figuring out how to do it intentionally.

What did you want to be when you were little?

When I was eight I told my mom I wanted to be on Broadway and she said, “You don’t ever want to go there! It’s a wicked, wicked place!” Haha, so … not quite Broadway, but I’m still performing all the time, so I guess I did it? Thanks, Mom!

What does improv do for the audience? What does it do for the performers?

Well, it depends on whether it’s good improv or not-great improv. Not-great improv does nothing but make an audience deeply uncomfortable. Good improv takes the audience on a journey that is truly magical and deeply rooted in the present. I’ve performed not-great improv (we all start somewhere!) and great improv, and either way, it forces the performer to be fully “here,” honest and authentic, and willing to take some risks.

How do you recharge when your day-job is such an extroverted position?

Lots of quiet, alone time. I really need space to relax and reflect and pull myself back together. I literally just went to the woods a couple of weekends ago by myself and did old-lady activities like putting together a puzzle and napping.

Who doesn’t laugh enough in our community? Who needs more laughter?

Everyone needs more laughter, but specifically, more voices need to be added to the group of people who make others laugh. We try to be very intentional about creating space for people to be heard on the Hashtag Comedy stage so that our audience can be exposed to new and different performers, and maybe find that special comedian who really speaks to them on another level.

What are you sick of people joking about?

Men vs. women stuff feels a little tired—or, at least, I personally haven’t heard any new or fresh takes lately. New comics trying to be “edgy” with rape or shock-humor. Trump.

What is your one-woman show about?

I dubbed 2017 as the “Year of Creation” for myself. I wanted to create without restrictions or boundaries, and see what came out with that kind of freedom. I’ve written close to 20 songs over the last year … some funny, some serious, and this show is a reflection of what I’ve created. I’ve performed a lot of them in shows throughout the year, or posted them as videos. This show will put them all in one place, with some storytelling, media and anecdotes about what they mean to me and how they came to be. You could call it the B-Sides of my brain.

What drives you to put on a one-woman show?

The challenge is a huge part of it. To be able to command an audience with just you and your words and your music for 90 minutes is a pretty daunting task. But I also love sharing what I’ve put together and I want people to be entertained and happy for a brief moment during their week.

What grinds your gears in this industry?

The promo model has changed significantly over the past decade, and a lot of performers are starting to catch on … but there’s still plenty of comedians/performers who refuse to promote themselves or their shows. Or who expect other people to promote for them. Or don’t promote at all. We get a lot of pushback from other performers about how much we promote or “brand” ourselves, but we wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity to produce and perform in four shows a week without it. We still have to hustle every week, for every show, to get butts in seats.

Who are your favorite Columbus acts?

Brooke Cartus is always bringing something new and hilarious to the stage. Bianca Moore is doing fun stuff with comedy and burlesque. Sara Bucher Greer just put on the most charming one-woman show. Lindsey Bowes is one of the most brilliantly creative minds around and is doing innovative things with media, improv and sketch. Ashley Johnson is a new improv performer who’s got the hustle and drive to do something awesome.

Can you give me a funny anecdote about when it got awkward on stage.

We do a game with the audience called “Texts from Last Night” where a volunteer comes up and all their lines of dialogue come from one of their text message conversations. We always direct them to pick a conversation that’s appropriate or that they wouldn’t mind sharing. This particular volunteer read a whole series of text messages that were very clearly arranging a cock fight. So! That was a fun twist to the corporate event we were performing for that evening.

Who has more fun- Columbus comedians or musicians?

Oh man, both groups probably have an equal amount of people pouring their pain into their work … but musicians probably get laid more.