Rochelle Takes on Comedy - Let's Talk About It

January 9, 2023

Trigger Warning

The col­umn below dis­cuss­es preda­to­ry behav­ior, abuse, sex­u­al­iz­ing, sex­ism, and misogyny. 

Guest Column

Wel­come to Rochelle Takes on Com­e­dy” by Rochelle McConi­co. Have an idea you’d like to share in a col­umn? Sub­mit your pitch here: comedywham@​comedywham.​com

What's in this blog?
Insight into the ups and downs of being a comedian.

An understanding of how comedy and the comedy business works.

The skinny on shows around Texas.

Don’t call it a comeback!

Because I think I called the last post a comeback. So that would be redundant. But I like the visual. Eh, let’s skip it because if something else hits in this world and knocks me sideways there will be another hiatus between posts. #statingfacts

But let’s see, what’s been going on? (Oh and enjoy the LL Cool J moment)

I’ve been performing a bunch since last fall. I had some opportunities to travel and do the New York Comic Con and the Ocean City Black and Funny Festival with Black Improv Alliance. Thanks Stephanie Rae! Hmmm, what else? I had a marvelous time hosting at the Austin Sketch Festival. It was a vibe. Thanks Ivy Le!

Let’s take a moment and look at some pics of me looking fabulous!

Rochelle looking fabulous in Rhode Island, New York, and Austin, Texas

Okay enough of that. Do I have something to say or nah! Well I have more to say than I ever could squeeze into a blog so make sure you come out and see me talk shit live.

Come See Me!
January calendar of Rochelle's Shows
The Unwritten Blog

Now enough of Rochelle Set To Ran­dom. What is this post about? Well, this post is a post about a post that I nev­er wrote. Buck­le up, we’re about to take a turn. (insert sound of screech­ing car brakes in your mind for the upcom­ing tone change)

The UnWrit­ten Blog

Why’d I even start writ­ing this blog? 

I start­ed this blog for two rea­sons 1. to share things as I learned them along my comedic jour­ney in hopes that it would res­onate with some­one else and 2. to go to shows to give some good press to come­di­ans doing inno­v­a­tive and ele­vat­ing comedic work. 

And I was doing that pret­ty con­sis­tent­ly. But I ran into a bit of a speed bump and I didn’t know how to han­dle it. Some­thing sim­ple that wound up not being so. What was it you ask? Basi­cal­ly, I promised a pro­duc­er, let’s name them, Zip­pi­ty DoBop, that I would write a review and I nev­er did. And I guess I had a good rea­son. I want­ed to pro­tect women.

I want­ed to pro­tect myself. (Yes, although my men­tal dick is very big, I iden­ti­fy as a woman.)

And if that had been all of it, maybe it wouldn’t have been hang­ing over my head all of this time. Months of me feel­ing like I didn’t keep my word. But who are you behold­en to and when is it right to keep qui­et and when is the right thing to speak up?

Oh, but there’s more. The oth­er thing that is not noble or grandiose. I nev­er wrote the post because I want­ed to be nice.

Ick! How gross is that. I’m a grown ass woman and I couldn’t write a blog post because I didn’t know how to say — I didn’t like that.

Isn’t that crazy? 

Chil­dren can say no and nasty and eww. But as adults we get so con­di­tioned to be nice that we are rarely that hon­est. So this blog post has been sit­ting in me like the fibroid I car­ry in my womb. Weigh­ing on me. TMI

But I can’t car­ry the weight any­more. Truth­ful­ly, more than any pro­tec­tion that I want­ed to give women in gen­er­al or me in par­tic­u­lar, being nice has held me back. The social pres­sure to be nice has choked me near­ly my entire life and it’s chok­ing me now. So to the two peo­ple who read my blog — my mom and Valerie. Here goes noth­ing. I’m going to tell the truth. Even if it’s not nice.

Also that’s an exag­ger­a­tion. The two read­ers thing. I read the blog to my mom. She’s old. I force it on her like her blood pres­sure medication.

This Week’s Show Review

I went to this show put on by Zippity DoBop. I’d never met them before, but they seemed and still seem to be a hard-working business person. It was the first of a new version of shows they were trying out in a new space. I liked the space. It was a theater for kids, I believe, and was being used for the show. There weren’t a lot of people there but that was okay. With all the shows going on in Austin, getting an audience is the hardest thing a producer has to do.

Plus it was a new show.

Either way, the environs were good and I was in a good mood. That was until a predator came down the hallway.

This guy, lets call him Douche Bag, was working the camera. He had been called out online for allegedly inappropriately touching and trying to date a minor. What I remember clearly was that he was all teeth — like a shark — coming toward me.

But I’m one of those people that generally believe in the benefit of the doubt. Just because someone accuses you of something, doesn’t make it true. Hell white women have gotten a lot of Black men killed that way.

Here’s looking at you Carolyn Bryant Donham.

So I’m not one to just go get the rope. But seeing him immediately put me on edge and later I got even more confirmation that it would be well worth it to give Douche Bag a wide berth. He is not to be trusted.

This was strike one. How could I write a review telling women to come out to the show when they would have to contend with him? My stomach turned at the thought.

But when I was talking to Zippity DoBop, they told me that Douche Bag wouldn’t be continuing with future shows so any impediment to writing a good review should be gone. Right?


Because when I went back to staring at my empty page determined to write a good show review, I remembered how I felt sitting in that audience. Unsafe. Naked.

And not in a good way.

You know that dream where you go to school and you look down and you’re naked? Yeah, like that. And then the next part happened.

The Other Comic

See there was this other comic there. He was charismatic. He made lots of jokes and I laughed. Even though most of them were about my tits or about fucking me.

I know what you’re thinking. That’s just comedy. That’s just crowd work. But this went on for over fifteen minutes. Just like one joke where he was doing his material and then some more jokes about how much fun he would have fucking me. It was a lot.

Now granted, I’m not shy. I don’t mind attention. But it was so much that I was embarrassed. Truthfully, I just wanted to leave. But how could I leave? I was the reviewer. I was in an audience of a few. And I was the butt of the joke. I couldn’t leave.

I had to laugh, to smile, to play along. And for a while, being a comic myself helped. But not for as long as those jokes went on. And when I went to write the review, I couldn’t help but think, how would another woman feel sitting in my place? Could I give a good review for a place that felt so unsafe?

I told the show producer this when we finally talked about why I hadn’t written the article. Zippity was confused. But you laughed at the jokes.

Yeah, I did. And it made me think of all the women who’ve had bad experiences with guys and just smiled through it. And I understood why they would in a way that I hadn’t before.

Sitting in that auditorium, I felt I had to laugh. That the best option was to play it off. But I felt gross and humiliated and unsafe. And I couldn’t possibly write a review that might lead other women into a space like that. I couldn’t possibly say anything nice even though that was the expectation.

So I didn’t say anything at all. Isn’t that the thing? If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all?

Who does that protect?

I’m saying silence abets oppression.

So this is the review that has been sitting in my heart for months. It is the reason, one of many, that I’ve had such a hard time writing Rochelle Takes On Comedy. Because this review is many things, but it isn’t nice.

And there’s no way that it ever could be.

So what’s the lesson? What’s the silver lining in all of this. I don’t know. I don’t have a tight Pollyanna thing that I can do to make this all good but I’ll leave you with this.

Show Producers — be careful who you book and who you work with. You can have the best laid plans and they can be derailed by the people in your crew. Also, be intentional about the spaces you create. Understand that audiences are coming to spend their time and money with you and so you have a duty to — within the best of your ability — create safe spaces.

And to the folks who have been in spaces and had to grit their teeth and smile through it, laugh when you felt like crying, or employ whatever coping mechanism you had to just to make it through the evening— I see you. I feel you. I am you.

And that’s the post.

About the Author

Rochelle McConi­co is the founder and CEO of Moon­Crick­et Pro­duc­tions a live enter­tain­ment com­pa­ny spe­cial­iz­ing in inter­ac­tive, mul­ti­sen­so­ry comedic events. She is a vision­ary, writer, pro­duc­er, and per­former. In June 2020, Rochelle launched the Amuse-Bouche Com­e­dy Fes­ti­val to show­case the many great impro­vis­ers, com­e­dy pod­cast­ers and stand-ups in New Orleans and per­formed as all three. In 2022, she fol­lowed up by co-found­ing, pro­gram­ming, per­form­ing and co-head­lin­ing the Lysis­tra­ta Com­e­dy Fes­ti­val, an all femme com­e­dy fes­ti­val, in New Orleans.

Addi­tion­al­ly, Rochelle per­forms standup, improv, and sketch around the coun­try both indi­vid­u­al­ly and with the groups: Black Improv Alliance’s Wakan­da Vs. Every­body, Black As Phuck, Switch­blade, Edge Con­trol, and No Lye Com­e­dy.

Notably she has per­formed improv at the New York Com­ic Con (2022), Black and Fun­ny Ocean City Fes­ti­val (2022), and Baton Rouge Improv Fes­ti­val (2022); sketch in the Dal­las Com­e­dy Fes­ti­val (2018) and the Los Ange­les Diver­si­ty in Com­e­dy Show­case (2019), and stand-up in the the Black Girl Gig­gles Fes­ti­val (2018) and Tow­er City Com­e­dy Festival(2022). Rochelle also host­ed the Austin Sketch­fest (2022).

Rochelle also wrote, direct­ed, and starred in three plays cen­ter­ing her alter ego char­ac­ter, bil­lion­aire media heiress Stan­gela Angela Hemsworth Kings­ley Winthrop Farouk Adams III: I’m Only Here for the Snacks, and Stan­gela for Pres­i­dent, and Stangela’s Swamp Thing. The first two plays were both fea­tured at Infringe Fest in New Orleans (2018 & 2019).

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