COMEDY

Beth Stelling- The Beth There Ever Was

0 Comments 08 October 2015

beth stelling

Beth Stelling talks her Comedy Central special and her new album Simply The Beth.

By Steven Ray Morris

 

With a wry smile at all times, comedian Beth Stelling is going to conquer the world. Simultaneously releasing her half-hour on Comedy Central and her sophomore record, Simply The Beth, today, Stelling is giving us a double-dose of her charmingly understated brand of observational humor. Only days before the album’s release, Stelling and I talked about her evolution as a comedian since moving to Los Angeles, going back to Chicago to record her new album, how the half-hour special and Simply The Beth compare, what her mom thinks of her stand-up, and more. Get into it!

 

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Congratulations on record number two. What has changed since Sweet Beth came out?

I like to think I’m good at comedy now [laughs]. I think I’m a little harsh on that album. What happened with Sweet Beth is that I didn’t tell anyone I was recording it. I just recorded it on one Zoom that my friend let me borrow. I just plugged it into my microphone and set it behind me. It’s a very laid-back and casual album, which is characteristic of me, but the subtext behind it was, “You guys know this one.” With the new record I wanted to present the jokes at their best. Of course some of these jokes will continue to grow and change, but I wanted to put stuff on the album for fans that want new material. I also wanted to document anything from my Comedy Central special that hasn’t already been put down, and some newer things that I’m working on now just to keep it exciting.

 

This album was recorded in Chicago where you got your start. What made you want to record it there?

Basically I thought to myself, “Where will I be most comfortable and welcome?” Since I started in Chicago that made the most sense. I love the beginning of the album because you can tell how well the audience knows me. When I say, “I look different than when I lived here,” it gets a laugh. They all knew me when I was chubby. I started on the stage as part of Underground Comedy going up most Tuesdays. It reminded me that I would just try anything back then, and I wanted this record to have a present feeling, which is why I included some of that material at the beginning. I can hear some of my best friends laughing too, which I absolutely love. I couldn’t have asked for a better crowd. I even kept my friend’s birthday on there and somebody drops a drink at one point. I just left it all in there because why not? I also had zero time to prep the release. I was giving notes rapidly. The turn around on this album was astonishing. I wanted to get it out with the special.

 

Do you think of the album as complimentary to the Comedy Central special?

The Comedy Central special is all tried and true bits. It’s an example of what I wanted my last album to be, which is just the jokes at their best being performed. I’m glad it’s captured on video, as opposed to just an album because the visuals are important for a lot of those jokes. There’s also a few new jokes sprinkled in there, but essentially the special is best for people who don’t know who I am. I think that the fans that I have are going to see the special and enjoy it like a song they know. I’m happy with the album. I’m very happy with the special.

 

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Photo credit: Kim Newmoney

 

Did moving to Los Angeles change anything about your stand-up or is it more about finding new stories to tell?

Yeah, I think when I moved here I was terrified I would not grow. I was worried that I could become sedentary and not push myself. I was constantly having to prove myself as a good comic here in order to be able to perform. I think over time, and getting used to a new city, I’ve gotten closer to my own personality on stage. I never started with a persona in mind, but when I started I was more dry. I’m more lively now. I’m more comfortable now. I’m having more fun.

 

You recently headlined a tour in New Zealand and Australia. What was that like?

It was the time of my life. I feel incredibly lucky that I got to do that tour and that it went so well. New Zealand and Australia welcomed me. The crowds were amazing. I was able to do my best because they were just so game to have a good time. I loved it. I can’t wait to go back there with a new hour.

 

Back in Los Angeles you cohost a weekly comedy show, CHURCH. Does hosting a show every week help you craft material?

Absolutely, for example, I hosted it this Sunday and came up with some new bits. They might not work, but I tried them. Since I’m not prepared and just riffing, I’m forced to try and make the audience laugh. I do not like not hearing laughter so I’m forced to write something on the spot. Sometimes it’s hard for me to host because you are bringing up comics who have a prepared set, usually. They are telling jokes at their best so sometimes it makes me go, “Oh man, I should be working harder,” but that’s exactly what I’m doing. Your job as host is to make an environment that’s susceptible to laugher. By being vulnerable and trying new things I’m hopefully creating a space for others to do the same and I think that’s ideal.

 

beth stelling 

I feel like your mom, who features in your stand-up, loves it. I bet she loves it. Does she love it?

She does like it. She’s a great sport. She’s so funny without trying. She’s a music teacher and last week the director of the music department opened their staff meeting by playing my Kimmel set. I think she loves it, not just because she’s proud of me, but because everyone gets to see a side of her where she’s hilarious. She’s not a ham nor does she seek out attention, she’s just effortlessly funny. There are sometimes where she goes [in her mother’s voice], “Oh Beth,” but I think that’s just her job as a mom.

 

With your album and the special coming out this weekend, what are you looking forward to doing next week?

Create a little buzz. In New York City, I’m going to do The Knitting Factory, Night Train, and Sam Morril’s release show at the The Village Underground. I’m going to New York City!!!

 

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Simply The Beth is available now. Purchase it on iTunes HERE.

Watch Beth Stelling’s half-hour special Saturday, October 10th at 12:30am ET/PT on Comedy Central.

Check out CHURCH every Sunday at the UCB Sunset.

 

Scope all things Beth Stelling on her website.

Follow Beth Stelling on Twitter.

 

Beth Stelling on The Pete Holmes Show

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- who has written 26 posts on Yay! LA | Arts & Culture Magazine.

Steven Ray Morris is an author, musician, cat owner, and an okapi in his next life. Floating around California with detours living in New Zealand, Great Britain, and Japan, he currently resides in Los Angeles until persuaded otherwise. He is a UC Santa Barbara Film & Media Studies graduate and occasionally cosplays as Carl Sagan. Jurassic Park trading cards are his jam. Follow him on Twitter @StevenRayMorris.

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