Aira Juliet - All Inclusive Comedy

April 25, 2021

Photo Credit

Kristyn Miller

Interview by

Valerie Lopez

Article by

Richard Goodwin

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One of the (hon­est­ly very few) upsides of the pan­dem­ic for me has iron­i­cal­ly been the oppor­tu­ni­ty to get up close and per­son­al” (with a twist) with some of the best come­di­ans in Austin (and across the world!). 

We launched Iso­la­tion Com­e­dy as a series of online shows to give come­di­ans and their fans a vir­tu­al space to per­form and enjoy with­out hav­ing to slap on a mask and, you know, risk their lives. As the tech­ni­cal pro­duc­er, that meant I had plen­ty of time with per­form­ers before and after shows, set­ting up the giz­mos and gad­gets to ensure the show would run with­out a hitch. I can hon­est­ly say that few of those expe­ri­ences will stand out as much as the time with this week’s pod­cast guest, Aira Juliet. 

Com­e­dy, and per­form­ing, has been a fix­ture in Juliet’s life since her child­hood days in Hous­ton, and it takes mere sec­onds with her to real­ize just how core it is. The girl who loved to make up jokes based on straw­ber­ries and bananas (which were awful”, she claims) was hooked on mak­ing peo­ple laugh, lead­ing to a love of watch­ing Sat­ur­day Night Live, and what she admits was prob­a­bly a bit too ear­ly of an expo­sure to the great Richard Pryor’s work. 

From the Iso­la­tion Com­e­dy vir­tu­al green room”, to respond­ing to tech­ni­cal flubs (yes, it does hap­pen), to hop­ping in at the last minute to sub for a per­former that had gone AWOL, Juli­et nev­er missed a beat in being on” with her high ener­gy and dia­logue. She field­ed seam­less tran­si­tions from anec­dotes to movie reviews, break­ing out in sound­track songs (and fierce­ly defend­ing her posi­tion on their mer­it), or grab­bing a ran­dom prod­uct to review like it was her field of exper­tise. (She has a great deal to say on air fry­ers, and I am so here for it.)

I did a lot of [theater & improv in Kansas], that I probably wouldn't have had the opportunity to do because Houston is so big...there's so many talented individuals.
Aira Juliet

It’s no sur­prise then to learn Juli­et not only attend­ed a per­form­ing arts high school, but went to col­lege for the­ater and choir (with a sprin­kle of improv and jour­nal­ism in the mix). A rare expe­ri­ence, indeed, to wit­ness someone’s pas­sions so dis­tilled and with such a clear through-line from past to present. The tran­si­tion to col­lege also neces­si­tat­ed a change in locale, from bustling Hous­ton to an almost uni­ver­sal­ly dif­fer­ent set­ting in Kansas. 

I did a lot of [the­ater & improv], that I prob­a­bly would­n’t have had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to do because Hous­ton is so big…there’s so many tal­ent­ed indi­vid­u­als,” Juli­et says of the dif­fer­ent envi­ron­ment. In Kansas, [I was] pret­ty much one of the only peo­ple of col­or ever in a room”, which she allows net­ted her stage time from shows eager to show diver­si­ty”, but hav­ing spent time with her, I can say that there’s always an oppor­tu­ni­ty to show­case one of her tal­ents, and they stand on their own merit. 

Often that meant break­ing out Juliet’s excel­lent vocals in a musi­cal per­for­mance. Not to toot my own horn, but I’m a very great singer,” she tells Valerie Lopez. That lead to her fre­quent­ly earn­ing the lead role in plays and musi­cals and the soloist spot for choir. We can attest that not only does she have the chops, but is ready to launch into song at a moment’s notice, whether as pop cul­ture ref­er­ence, or to musi­cal­ly describe the mood of the room. 

The co-host of 2 Broke Bitche$ at The Creek and The Cave ATX (part­nered with fre­quent Iso­la­tion Com­e­dy host Colton Dowl­ing), is also always on the look­out for oppor­tu­ni­ties to get the spot­light shin­ing on those around her. There were a lot of things that were with­held from me, because of, I mean, lack of diver­si­ty, lack of rep­re­sen­ta­tion,” Juli­et notes, so when I left college…I was like, I want to make sure that every­thing is inclusive/​included.” The self-titled Bey­once of [my] friend group” feels that com­e­dy is a chan­nel, but that any of her cre­ative projects are chances to bring in not only new fans, but new part­ners as well. 

Going to Kansas, [I saw people who] were stifled, held back..didn't even know that other realities existed...[it] opened my eyes for other people, and also myself.
Aira Juliet

Those com­mu­ni­ty skills trans­late direct­ly into one of Juliet’s oth­er pas­sions: social activism. It’s anoth­er facet of her per­sona with roots in that serendip­i­tous­ly chal­leng­ing move to Kansas. Going to Kansas, [I saw peo­ple who] were sti­fled, held back..didn’t even know that oth­er real­i­ties exist­ed,” she says of the expe­ri­ence, which opened my eyes for oth­er peo­ple, and also myself.” It gave her a lens through which to exam­ine com­mu­ni­ties, like the com­e­dy scene, tak­ing a deep­er look at the per­form­ers who aren’t get­ting the rep­re­sen­ta­tion their tal­ents merit. 

I’ve always been me’, but I can say that I prob­a­bly would­n’t be as vocal, or as active [in social caus­es], if I had­n’t [made that move].”

Julliet’s month­ly show­case Who’s on Tap at St. Elmo’s Brew­ing (return­ing soon) is a per­fect exam­ple of that ethos, ensur­ing that all gen­ders and walks of life are rep­re­sent­ed. Anoth­er gift of the pan­dem­ic was the birth of 2 Broke Bitche$ pre­de­ces­sor pod­cast Wit Laugh­ter Weis­sen”, mar­ry­ing Juli­et and Dowling’s nat­u­ral­ly curi­ous and inclu­sive natures in the form of a top­i­cal inter­view show. Guests have includ­ed a rab­bi, one of Austin’s top drag queens (Louisiana Pur­chase), and big name come­di­ans like Solomon Gior­gio and Vanes­sa Gon­za­lez. With such diverse top­ics, and Juli­et and Dowling’s unre­lent­ing hon­esty and spon­tane­ity (“we pull out the fun­ni­est worst part of each oth­er,” she jokes), they eas­i­ly pull comedic tan­gents out of even the seem­ing­ly mundane. 

Juli­et is also work­ing on a script for an online TV show, and is jug­gling a hand­ful of oth­er roles like punch up” writ­ing for a Spo­ti­fy-host­ed pod­cast. She speaks open­ly about her strug­gles with depres­sion, and keep­ing a full plate” of tasks is one of her key tools in squash­ing it. Hav­ing things to do and hav­ing struc­ture in my life def­i­nite­ly does help…not over­work­ing your­self and keep­ing your­self too busy, but giv­ing your­self things to do…finding what you’re good at and what makes you hap­py.” She high­ly rec­om­mends keep­ing a cal­en­dar and extols lists, not only for to do” items, but also all your accom­plish­ments, no mat­ter how small they may seem. Writ­ing things out def­i­nite­ly helps you see what you’re say­ing yes to, what you’re doing.”

As Austin (and the world) con­tin­ues the march back to nor­mal”, Juli­et plans to stay busy, rav­ing at the new (and return­ing) venues, for­mats, and tal­ents in the wings. Sketch is an area she plans to expand on, build­ing on her nat­ur­al gifts of bring­ing peo­ple togeth­er. As with all our local guests, we had to know if any of her plans includ­ed an exit from Austin. She allows that could hap­pen: I’ve nev­er felt I had roots…I love trav­el­ing”, but I do see myself com­ing back” to the city that has the com­mu­ni­ty she loves. 

Wher­ev­er those roots do even­tu­al­ly take hold, we’re cer­tain Juli­et will ensure a pos­i­tive, inclu­sive com­mu­ni­ty will sprout as well. 

Aira can be seen and heard:

  • Who’s on Tap — April 30th and every last Fri­day of the month, St Elmo brew­ing Company 
  • 2 Broke Bitche$ — April 24th and every oth­er Sat­ur­day, The Creek and the Cave 

Fol­low Aira 

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Aira Juliet