Amanda Van Nostrand is Taking All the Steps

April 11, 2022

Photo Credit

Scott Johnson


Valerie Lopez


Valerie Lopez

2022 Lysistrata Comedy Festival

The inaugural Lysistrata Comedy Festival, based in New Orleans, welcomed Valerie Lopez for a live Comedy Wham Presents podcast recording. Enjoy!

Valerie Lopez talks to Amanda Van Nostrand for Comedy Wham Presents Live at the 2022 Lysistrata Comedy Festival

This is (and we know we say this often) a very spe­cial episode and arti­cle. It is our first live pod­cast event at a fes­ti­val. Not just any fes­ti­val but an all female fes­ti­val in its first year and orga­nized by Rochelle McConi­co, who we recent­ly inter­viewed, and who writes our recur­ring col­umn Rochelle Takes on Com­e­dy. The Lysis­tra­ta Com­e­dy Fes­ti­val in New Orleans was an incred­i­ble expe­ri­ence and Valerie Lopez had the hon­or of inter­view­ing Aman­da Van Nos­trand, a name you’ll be hear­ing and see­ing more from over the com­ing years. 

With her start in Den­ver as a self-pro­fessed ham, Van Nos­trand got an ear­ly start in per­for­mance as part of a sum­mer dra­ma pro­gram, but that only cement­ed a pas­sion for per­for­mance she had as ear­ly as kinder­garten when she declare – with the unbri­dled con­fi­dence of a 6 year ol – that she want­ed to be an actress. She joined the typ­i­cal high school fare for future per­form­ers: choir and the­ater. As an aside, if you lis­ten to this episode (maybe this is just me who is inevitably respon­si­ble for the sound edit­ing of our pod­cast episodes), you will rec­og­nize the clear dic­tion and impec­ca­ble pro­jec­tion of a choir and the­ater trained performer.

I felt like my energy didn't match the city at all.
Amanda Van Nostrand

Her home­town of Den­ver did not pro­vide the per­for­mance oppor­tu­ni­ties that our ham-in-chief was crav­ing. She admits, I felt like my ener­gy did­n’t match the city at all.” Once school was over for Van Nos­trand, you can prob­a­bly visu­al­ize the car­toon image of a char­ac­ter with the whirl of legs rac­ing out of the scene with a plume of fire and smoke in what was left behind. While she’s far too nice to have burned any bridges as she chased her dream in New York, she sees no need to return. 

The star­ry eyed arrival to NYC was tem­pered by some per­son­al dif­fi­cul­ties, but she vowed to her­self you bet­ter fuck­ing make it girl. Because if you don’t you’re mov­ing back.” Since she knew she did­n’t want to come back to Den­ver, her fate was sealed and she immersed her­self in audi­tions, improv, and the­ater. She’s been in NYC for a while now, but the thing that piqued my inter­est is a bit more recent. Moms on the Go is a web series which Van Nos­trand and fel­low per­former Robert Allen dreamed up in the course of post-improv per­for­mances. The series, where Van Nos­trand por­trays Sheryl Castel­lano, cel­e­brates the absurd things moms say and do. Van Nos­trand’s strong char­ac­ter work is evi­dent. With her trained expe­ri­ence and her work as an improv and the­ater per­former, the strength of Van Nos­trand’s char­ac­ter work is not surprising.

What IS sur­pris­ing (and what you’ll hear caught on the hilar­i­ous episode) is that Van Nos­trand is also a standup com­ic! What? Who knew? Well, appar­ent­ly every­one but Valerie! Adding standup to her impres­sive list of skills has boost­ed her over­all abil­i­ties, but only recent­ly has her life start­ed to bring big­ger and big­ger oppor­tu­ni­ties. The types of oppor­tu­ni­ties that make you run from paid work like being an office man­ag­er (EEEW!!). She’s filmed Hack My Life, a sil­ly explo­ration of life hacks on TruTV. Van Nos­trand served as Office Mack, a series reg­u­lar. Things have picked up the pace more recent­ly with Van Nos­trand pick­ing up parts in movies.

Life is not a straight line.
Amanda Van Nostrand

As we dis­cuss that in between” stage of life (between the starv­ing artist and the slight­ly less so, but still work­ing a day job artist), Van Nos­trand gets intro­spec­tive. They don’t tell us this, that all of these expe­ri­ences fil­ter into sort of all of the things that you end up doing”, she states. From being laser focused on act­ing as a kinder­gart­ner to get­ting out of Den­ver, to pur­su­ing all the dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ences since land­ing in NYC, they bring Van Nos­trand to today. To add a future bumper stick­er ele­ment, she states life is not a straight line.” No, it cer­tain­ly is not, nor should it be. Whether things are going well, not so well, a mix of both, all of the expe­ri­ences feed into the thing we are chas­ing at the moment. Van Nos­trand is chas­ing so many things these days — writ­ing, act­ing, standup, improv, sketch, her pro­duc­tion com­pa­ny It Could Be Worse Pro­duc­tions, and podcasting.

For Van Nos­trand, being inquis­i­tive and intro­spec­tive made her the per­fect inter­view guest, so it should­n’t be sur­pris­ing that she has her own pod­cast, I Have a Ques­tion! In the pod­cast she explores the top­ics we all have ques­tions about, but rather than rely on the fel­low come­di­an in search of the fun­ni­est hot take, she seeks out sub­ject mat­ter experts in pol­i­tics, men­tal health, social jus­tice and gives us all a riv­et­ing way to become well-informed as well as entertained. 

In anoth­er first, Van Nos­trand was the first inter­view guest to ever ask for my note­cards (full of scrib­bled notes, planned ques­tions, and all in detailed out­line form). I was both hon­ored and also instant­ly bond­ed to Van Nos­trand for the ges­ture. That’s part of her mag­ic, I found. She is THAT per­son who loves being a ham, but she also wants you to feel like you’re a very impor­tant part of the par­ty. We’ll leave you on this final visu­al, of Van Nos­trand bal­anc­ing a grow­ing num­ber of spin­ning plates. This might give her some anx­i­ety to real­ize that she is bal­anc­ing so much, but from our van­tage point, she’s doing all the thing she set out to do when she left her home. When you’ve lived your life appre­ci­at­ing that noth­ing hap­pens in a straight line process, you real­ize spin­ning plates is par for the course. That should serve as inspi­ra­tion to all of us.

A big thank you to the 2022 Lysis­tra­ta Com­e­dy Fes­ti­val for hav­ing us!

Fol­low Amanda

Aman­da can be seen and heard

  • Pod­cast — I Have a Ques­tion! with Aman­da Van Nostrand
  • Host­ed Show — Let’s Do This Again (month­ly at Mama Tried in Brooklyn)
  • Videos
    • Moms on the Go Youtube series 
    • Tech Bet­tys web series 
  • Film/​TV
    • Hack My Life (TruTV)
    • Tim­ing (Ama­zon)
    • Fear Oblig­a­tion Guilt (film com­ing soon)
    • Hel­lo Beau­ti­ful (series com­ing soon)
  • Pro­duc­tion com­pa­ny It Could Be Worse”

Spe­cial thank you to Rochelle McConi­co, Jess Scott, Denise Jena, and Can­dace Robert­son as co-pro­duc­ers of the Lysis­tra­ta Com­e­dy Festival.

Thank you to Jon Reynolds for the audio recording.

Thank you to Matt Far­ley of Motern Media for the intro music.

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Amanda Van Nostrand