"A lot of my material tries to find light and joy in dark things."
One of New York's most exciting new comics, Emmy Botnick who has written for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, @Midnight and The President Show is making her Edinburgh Festival Fringe debut this year with Party Nights.
Having recently watched her perform in New York's iconic Comedy Cellar, I caught up with Emmy to discuss how she first got into comedy, what people can expect from her debut hour and her growing obsession with Scottish comedian Fern Brady.
How did you first get into comedy?
I did some improv and stand-up when I was in college, I then moved to New York right after I graduated and started doing open mics. And the fact that they weren't completely humiliating was enough to keep going.
Little bits of encouragement along the way kept it from being a complete disaster I guess. Now eight or nine years later, here we are!
Do you feel like you have to be based in New York as a stand-up in America?
For stand-up in particular, yes. I have lots of friends who have moved out to Los Angeles because there's more acting and television work but for live performing, there's a great appetite for it in New York, lots of great clubs and lots of stage time.
So if you like being with the crowd, I think New York is the best place.
Have you ever performed in the UK before?
I did one show in London about six months ago but it was just through a friend. It wasn't a headline or anything, but that's been it. I'm really looking forward to it.
When did you first become aware of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe?
I've known about it for a long time but because all I do is tell jokes and my show will never be a deep dark confession of all the diseases I've had and recovered from, I didn't think my style would suit it.
I didn't think I'd be a great candidate for it, until the last year or so when my management said I should give it a go. Now I'm really excited to be doing it!
I'm so so excited! Just yesterday I Googled the capacity of the venue I'm playing and it's 70 people and I thought "You know what? I can do this! It's going to be OK."
There seem to be a lot of US comics going up this year.
It does seem like it. I don't know how many there's been in past years but I've been converted by how many friends of mine are going. Liza Treyger and I are going to be living together. She's like my sister and I love her so much.
There's a good group of comics going, like Dan Soder, Sean Patton and Anna Drezen - about a dozen that I can think of so hopefully we won't be too lonely. Also, Liza and I will be in Dublin for a few days before Edinburgh and we did the Melbourne festival a few months back so I feel like we've met a good handful of comics that will be there.
How familiar are you with some of our comedians?
I know a few of them from afar. I really like British comedy. There were a handful we met in Melbourne who I was amazed by - Fern Brady I hadn't seen until then and I'm in love with her now. There was also a showcase of British comics like Mawaan Rizwan and Rosie Jones and a whole bunch more who made we want to hang out with them!
What can people expect when they come to watch your show?
I released an album a few months ago so it's going to be a bit of that but a load of new stuff too. I tell lots of stories and jokes and tend to lean towards the mental health type themes because that's a constant upkeep for me.
I'm hoping that it resonated with folks in the UK.
Why did you decide to call the show Party Nights?
You know it's kinda stupid because I have a thing about the phrase 'Self Potato' and that seems like the natural title for things but I have a pet peeve with comedy titles where I don't like when they sound mopey and self-pitying - like Party for One. You're supposed to be spreading joy and cheer!
So even though I talk about a lot of depressing things, I don't think I am depressing. I hope that makes sense! A lot of my material tries to find light and joy in dark things so Party Nights is a throwaway line in a joke and my manager said that's a fun title and I thought "Yeah, lets go with something that sounds fun!"
Have you enjoyed having the Edinburgh hour to fill?
Yeah! It's sort of a different sport. You get to hang out with the audience a lot more which is nice and they get used to you. In showcase type shows you have to establish who you are, hammer out your jokes and give them a best of.
But with hour-long shows it's really nice to be able to relax and feel what relationship there might be with that particular crowd. You can talk to them more and you can do weirder things once you've earned their trust. Which sounds very manipulative and strange!
I've got some bits that are more thinky and riskier and weirder and those can only really live in hour sets unless I'm feeling especially ballsy and insane that day.
I'm going to do 26 hour-long shows so I'm sure each one will end up being a bit different based on who just shows up.
How are you feeling about the daily show for a month?
I've heard that people have nervous breakdowns but I have a very good therapist who likes to use Skype so I'm planning on taking advantage of that!
Although the way she uses Skype is she gets it up and going, then points the camera at the ceiling and yells! So I get a good view of the dust on top of her bookshelves while I'm crying.
What are you most looking forward to about Edinburgh?
I have a little bit of a hard time understanding the Scottish accent sometimes so I'm looking forward to getting over that just through sheer exposure!
I've been googling around a little bit for other things to do in Edinburgh and I only have one day off in the entire run and I think I'm going to go and stay in the Balmoral that night and live really large in a castle. That sounds really good to me! I saw on the website that there's a giant bathtub in there and I live for that shit.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
This is a weird one I guess, but I've started looking out into the audience and saying "I love you" to them. But it's in my head! I also like to do a little bit of breathing so that I don't go out all frenzied.
We're like cats and dogs with performers, we can smell when they're scared or scattered so it's important to come out grounded and not feeling like you're floating out of your body.
Outside of the Fringe, what are you working on?
I'm just beginning to write an animated show which I'm very excited about. It's one of my bucket list things. I'll be writing lots more new material... and I think that's about it. I wish I had more to tell you!
Finally, how would you sum up this year's show in just five words?
Weird jew. Wacky fun shit.
Emmy Blotnick: Party Nights runs from 31st July - 26th August (not 13th) at 7.55pm at the Underbelly Bristo Square (Buttercup). Book tickets here.