Clowns to the left of me, hipsters to the right: The sound of milk foaming. A case of sugar-shiny pastries. I waited for Denver comic Heather Snow at the Gallop Café at Zuni and 32nd, regretting my fashion choice: hand-knit gauntlets that struck the balance between cool and warm when I left the house but suddenly seemed hillbilly and backward next to the high heel-shod/plaid-shirted couple who sat a table away. As a person star-struck by any amount of fame, I felt shy around the plaid, bearded one — undoubtedly lead singer for Lee Avenue’s Scott McCormick.
I wanted to tell McCormick that I liked his music, but what if he wanted to engage in small talk? Only a judgmental person who believes “How are you?” is a boring, unacceptable opener to a conversation would understand why that is horrifying. Avoiding eye contact was easy; he wasn’t looking my way. Damn gauntlets.
That’s why I was off my game when the giant blond woman I was expecting walked in and over to my table and said, “Michelle?”
“How are you, Heather?” I stammered and stood. She turned her head away from me to yawn. I tried not to take it personally. Snow’s famous, too. In fact, Heather Snow’s comic star is on the rise.
A few years ago, Snow was just another open mic-er at Paris on the Platte, telling her first few jokes. Today she’s the originator of the award-winning Ladies Laugh-in at Denver’s Beauty Bar, which she started two and a half years ago to give women in comedy and in Denver a voice. (The show, which won Best of Westword twice, is now called Delusions of Randeur and is hosted the third Wednesday of each month by Kristen Rand. It also won Denver’s Top Ten Comedy Shows to Watch). Snow recently appeared on the TV Guide Network’s Standup in Stilettos (available On Demand, episode four, under her name), and was featured in early December on the weekend pages of The Denver Post. She’s a woman, unlike many woman, who considers her grandmother an inspiration AND who is six feet tall AND who is funny. And smart. Little did I know that she was also a master of answering the unasked question.
broad: This is a sexist blog, so I need to begin with questions that demonstrate the worthiness of the blog as a champion for funny women.
broad: What does a woman have to do that a guy doesn’t to get noticed in this business?
Snow: There are definitely a lot more guys. I think it would be hardest to be a white young guy doing comedy. Being a young white guy, you really have to be original. I can’t tell the difference between the guys.
broad: There are a whole lot of guys doing standup when I go out.
Snow: I’m a tall blond chick. I can talk about that.
broad: Come on, say something mean about guys.
Heather: I don’t know that I feel that way. There are some really, really funny guys who are original and funny.
broad: That’s not mean.
Heather: This guy, this comic with cerebral palsy, Aaron Snyder, was wasted one night at the Squire. I asked him, “Who is taking you home?” And he said, “Ben Adams.” I know Ben really well now, so it’s funny that then I walked up to Ben Adams and said, “Have you seen Ben Adams? He’s supposed to take Aaron Snyder home.” He’s like, “I am Ben Adams.”
broad: I did an extremely scientific study when I went to Comedy Works here in Denver one time. Of the 20 comics I saw, only two were women. Can you say something mean about the Comedy Works not promoting women?
Snow: I don’t want to trash the Comedy Works. What I’d really like to see is a woman promoted there. It doesn’t have to be me. It would be nice if Jodee Champion or MaraWiles got promoted at Comedy Works.
broad: Please trash Comedy Works.
Snow: The thing about the Denver comedy scene is that everyone is helpful with each other and there is a huge sense of community. But at Comedy Works, I’d like to see more women. Nora Lynch, Nancy Norton, Gretchen Hess, Stephanie McHugh, Vicki Edgar — these are women who are established at Comedy Works. But I just want to see Jodee open for somebody. Somebody, one woman, get promoted.
broad: That’s not bad-mouthing Comedy Works.
Snow: I just want to see a woman promoted at Comedy Works.
broad: OK, if you’re not going to say rotten things about men, or Comedy Works, tell me about yourself.
Snow: I feel bad now, because I feel like I was bad-mouthing Comedy Works. I love Comedy Works.
broad: I’ll write that, that you love Comedy Works. Tell me about when they were taping the TV Guide show.
Snow: OK. So the TV Guide Standup in Stilettos was weird. It was in front of a paid audience in LA and they didn’t laugh in the same way as people who pay to see a show. But they were friendly.
broad: Were they drunk?
Snow: They had fake drinks. I was so nervous I had to start over. I don’t think it was normal for a comic as new as me to do a TV set, but I think I was ready. I kinda muscled through it. I said all the words. Everybody was doing that NickMom thing. I couldn’t do it because I don’t have kids. My latest favorite joke is that when I think about having kids, I think I’d like to have $5,000 more.
broad: You said it. That’s funny.
Snow: There were other comics in the green room who couldn’t do NickMom because they didn’t have kids.
broad: That’s really funny. Wait, I don’t even know what you’re talking about. I don’t know what NickMom is.
Snow: NickMom Night Out is a Nickelodeon comedy show where you can’t not be a mom. I thought that was more discriminating than female comics.
broad: Let’s backtrack a bit to your beginnings. Tell me a story about how doing standup was something you came to believe you could do.
Snow: So, I don’t drink anymore. I stopped drinking about six months ago. Before I stopped, I was doing this thing to control my habit. I called it “productive drinking,” so that if I was out at bar and I was having any alcoholic beverage, I had to be doing something. So I would go to Paris on the Platte where there was an open mic night and watch comedy. I was doing an activity, so I was allowed to drink — because I wasn’t just sitting at the bar. After three or four months of that, one guy was like, ‘When are you going to get up?’ So I wrote all these jokes, but I don’t think I told any of them because I was so drunk by the time I got on stage. I think I just told my grandfather’s old jokes. I barely remember the set. I was almost blacked out my first time on stage. That was February, 2010. Everybody said I was funny. I remember seeing people laughing. Next week, when I went back to do it again, I, I was sober. I ate shit. I bombed.
broad: What? You don’t drink anymore?
Snow: Then I thought I had to be drunk to be funny. So the next time I did shots and got inebriated before going to the club — and I ate shit again. It was worse than when I was sober. So then I was like, “This is harder than it looks.” It was more of a challenge to do well. I did the same three minutes for three months straight. At some point, I got bored. Narrators, that storytelling thing, changed things and made things more personal. I told more stories. It’s easier to remember. The truth is easier. And now, for the last six months, I’m doing it sober, which made me nervous again. But it’s getting better.…Hang on, I got a text.
broad: You don’t drink at all?
Snow: Nobody wants to go to a show and see a drunk person. People said I was always funny; I didn’t feel that way. I’m weird. But it’s interesting to watch the crowd and engage and build it up until they want to laugh. You look at a lot of the guys who are getting big now, and that’s what they are doing. Because punch after punch…to me, that’s not the kind of comedy I enjoy. I really enjoy the storytellers. What do you prefer?
broad: I like storytelling. Paula Poundstone does that.
Snow: She follows me on twitter. That’s my claim to fame. Except that I direct messaged her and she didn’t respond, so now I’m hurt.
broad: Bitch. What’s your favorite movie?
Snow: Wet, Hot American Summer. I love how they have disconnects. You can tell they didn’t know what to do with the time. They are all at this lake watching these kids, and these kids are drowning and the life guards are all trying to figure out how to have sex. And there is a guy in the scene, and you can tell they couldn’t figure out how to exit the guy from the scene. So he just walks to the end of the dock and falls off.
broad: Favorite Harry Potter book?
Snow: The first one. It has so much hope.
broad: You didn’t like how the books got darker?
Snow: Yeah. Where’s the magic? Where’s the school? Hogwarts is the best. It went downhill from number one. I listen to books on tape a lot when I drive to the mountains. I like Devil in the White City. I like Hunger Games because I like romantic comedy. There are funny parts. I was listening to a Hunger Games book and saw a guy with a t-shirt that said, “Live like you’re going to die.” And I thought, what am I supposed to do, get my bow and arrow and kill everybody first?”
broad: Ever write on the bathroom wall?
Snow: Sure. I always draw a snowman when I’m graffiti-ing. Then a six.
Snow: It’s on the wall at Wit’s End outside of the club in Westminster.
broad: Oh. Because that’s you. Well, let’s talk about your childhood.
Snow: My grandma was pretty much the most brilliant person on earth. I spent a ton of time with her before she died, learning about where she was coming from. I miss her. She was the first person to graduate from a master’s program at Wright State.
The last conversation we had was about how she couldn’t poop.
I took her to meet her old friends. I was amazed at the risks she took. She lived with my grandfather on Pearl Harbor while it was bombed. She died three years ago, right around the time I started doing comedy. Most of the things I would do I was like, “Is my grandmother going to be mad at me about this?” Suddenly those standards were gone. But I don’t know… I think she would be proud. When I said, “I wish I knew how to play piano,” she said, “You’re not dead yet.” I think of a lot of things in that way. I’m taking guitar lessons, now.
I trick myself into practicing by putting my guitar on my desk. I also trick myself into take the trash out. I get a text to take the trash out. Denver Recycling sends it.
broad: What’s your favorite humor website?
Snow: I have trouble with the favorite questions.
broad: No. Really. Please answer this one. Is it broad?
Snow: I have trouble with favorite question such as the question, “Who is your favorite pet?” Sometimes it’s somebody else’s pet.