Kandace Medina Levels Up

January 1, 2022

Photo Credit

Britney Ledesma

Interview by

Valerie Lopez

Article by

Valerie Lopez

Listen
Trigger Warning

The article and accompanying podcast discuss suicide, self-harm, and abuse.

  • If you or someone you care for is having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255
  • If you or someone you care for are engaging in self-harm, contact a Crisis Counselor by texting 741741
  • If you or someone you care for is a victim of domestic violence, contact The National Domestic Violence at 800-799-SAFE (7233)

For Valerie’s 198th inter­view, she and her guest both thought this episode was a buck­et list item. For Valerie it was get­ting to know one of the stand­out per­form­ers of the 2020 Com­e­dy Wham Iso­la­tion Com­e­dy shows. For Kan­dace Med­i­na, doing the Com­e­dy Wham Presents pod­cast was some­thing that marked a lev­el of accom­plish­ment in the Austin com­e­dy scene and recog­ni­tion for her hard work. Miss Purry was also very excit­ed about Med­i­na’s vis­it to the Purring­ton stu­dios (as she can be audi­bly heard through­out our conversation).

Med­i­na made the task easy. Give her a ques­tion and she gives of her­self in spades. Which is what we had hoped for when we planned her episode as the first release of 2022. Raw, bare, and hon­est, we thought that with the dif­fi­cul­ties of the last 2 years, we need­ed some­one to hon­est­ly depict the hard times as they piv­ot to a new chap­ter of their lives.

Comedy was a way for me to do multiple things, it was a way for me to fit in, a way for me to hide...whatever was going on with me, it was a way for me to kind of get by in life and be liked...
Kandace Medina

Med­i­na pro­fess­es that for many years she felt unful­filled — in school, out of school, in life, in gen­er­al. Com­e­dy played an impor­tant role in her child­hood, she states Com­e­dy was a way for me to do mul­ti­ple things, it was a way for me to fit in, a way for me to hide…whatever was going on with me, it was a way for me to kind of get by in life and be liked…” As a sur­vival tool for her to get by, she could hide behind jokes, deflec­tion, and affirm her self-declared sta­tus as a loner. 

One can apply some arm­chair psy­chol­o­gy and sur­mise that drug and alco­hol use in her life as a com­ic were man­i­fes­ta­tions of that state of mind. Med­i­na opens up about extreme­ly dark moments in her life, includ­ing being in an abu­sive rela­tion­ship and hav­ing sui­ci­dal thoughts. After grad­u­at­ing from col­lege, she did­n’t know what to do, she land­ed a job that she did­n’t care for, and while she had friends (shout out Shan­non!), a con­trol­ling abuser imposed iso­la­tion which turns a lon­er’s life even more difficult.

She bears no shame about those moments and thoughts, she’s learned that by being open it helps heal her own dark­ness and makes it pos­si­ble for oth­ers to relate and per­haps grasp on to some hope if they are going through sim­i­lar feel­ings. This is why she fre­quent­ly declares dur­ing our con­ver­sa­tion, com­e­dy saved her life”. As you’ll hear, cook­ing may also have saved her life. A life-long self-taught cook, before mov­ing to Austin she land­ed an audi­tion to be in Mas­ter Chef. Of all the dif­fi­cult things Med­i­na opened up about lead­ing up to this part of the inter­view, it is in this moment that she tears up. For her, the audi­tions gave her “…this new sense of expe­ri­ence, like grat­i­tude, and just being so grate­ful for the lit­tle part of me that just kept going because…I’ve done some cool shit and I’m final­ly able to say that that’s due to my sense of adven­ture, abil­i­ty to take risks, will­ing­ness to learn and grow and work through the hard stuff like go to the edges of the dark­ness and con­tin­ue on and expe­ri­ence great things that not every­one is will­ing to make that leap.” While we haven’t got­ten to see her on TV (yet) as a chef, it does­n’t seem too far-fetched that we may one day get to. Her comedic sen­si­bil­i­ties, her charm, and her new­found con­fi­dence may be just the right ingre­di­ents in the right mea­sures to get her there.

It's also important to trust ourselves as entertainers - to know that inherently we are funny, and just being human is funny and fucking up something is funny. Trust fall into yourself, like you are your own safety net on stage.
Kandace Medina

One of Med­i­na’s most pro­found lessons from her return to Austin after the Mas­ter Chef audi­tions in Cal­i­for­nia and then jump­ing into the restau­rant indus­try are lessons that apply no mat­ter what you’re chas­ing after: I and so many oth­er peo­ple are so much more capa­ble than we believe that you just have to take that risk. Because in that gap, you will grow, what­ev­er you don’t know, you will grow and you will learn. ” So for 2022, go ahead, say fuck it”, take the risks, you just might learn some­thing from it and grow as a per­son. Even­tu­al­ly, that growth for Med­i­na brought her to com­e­dy and she was deeply com­mit­ted to grow­ing as a new com­ic. If Austin had the equiv­a­lent of JFL’s Fresh Faces, Med­i­na would have earned a spot as one of Austin’s Fresh Faces. But, for all the splash she was mak­ing in the scene, the dark cloud that had fol­lowed her her entire life, seeped into her com­e­dy pres­ence, too. The demons would not stay away.

And we are grate­ful to all of Med­i­na’s com­e­dy friends who begged her to return to com­e­dy after quit­ting. Yes, that’s right, she start­ed com­e­dy, but in 2020, she quit com­e­dy ratio­nal­iz­ing that com­e­dy had saved her, she learned what she need­ed to, and she was done. The tough thing for Valerie to hear was that Med­i­na quit fol­low­ing her final per­for­mance on (gasp!) one of our Iso­la­tion Com­e­dy online shows!! Admit­ted­ly, this brought a tear to my eyes because Med­i­na was bril­liant online and our mis­sion was always to sup­port and give comics a way to get their com­e­dy mus­cles flexed in the time of Covid. Med­i­na focused on the restau­rant busi­ness and things were going very well for her in that busi­ness, but her com­e­dy friends want­ed her back. They saw things in her that she could­n’t as cap­tured per­fect­ly by this obser­va­tion “…all the val­i­da­tion I was get­ting, I would con­vince myself that peo­ple were lying to me that peo­ple were try­ing to fuck with me or play tricks on me…” Between ther­a­py to tame those dark demons and the encour­age­ment of her friends she did it. She came back and real­ized she missed it. A new ener­gy and com­mit­ment to per­form­ing hit and she start­ed allow­ing her­self to accept the praise and she gained a nat­ur­al con­fi­dence in her­self that had elud­ed her. Does she have thoughts on that? Of course, she does, It’s also impor­tant to trust our­selves as enter­tain­ers — to know that inher­ent­ly we are fun­ny, and just being human is fun­ny and fuck­ing up some­thing is fun­ny. Trust fall into your­self, like you are your own safe­ty net on stage.” Know that you’re your own safe­ty net is a huge step for any com­ic and for Med­i­na that means know­ing that she will be suc­cess­ful no mat­ter what she pursues.

This is one of our longest inter­views yet, but we want to encour­age any­one read­ing to lis­ten to this one because there is a sto­ry that Med­i­na tells about a moment in her life recent­ly where every­thing comes crash­ing togeth­er — the anx­i­ety, the imposter syn­drome, the crush­ing self-doubt, and then, like a phoenix, the tri­umphant pre­vail­ing over all of those dark demons that haunt her mind. It’s one of the best long-form sto­ries we’ve heard. At the end of the sto­ry, we heard this gem from Med­i­na, I’m just not afraid any­more. Like noth­ing is real­ly that scary” and that’s an amaz­ing moment for any per­former to achieve, one she admits she wish­es she could save in a bottle.

Hav­ing observed Med­i­na’s standup com­e­dy for the first time in Decem­ber since last see­ing her dur­ing the Iso­la­tion Com­e­dy Shows, I can admit I was blown away by the matu­ri­ty and self-assured­ness she dis­played on stage. Make no mis­take, she was hilar­i­ous, her comedic instinct unaf­fect­ed by a recent com­mit­ment to sobri­ety. It is hap­pen­ing more fre­quent­ly that comics are ditch­ing the chem­i­cal crutch of alco­hol or drugs and in no way is that an easy task. For Med­i­na, it has allowed her to grow and accept the cur­rent ver­sion of her­self that loves cook­ing (her alter ego as cater­er can be fol­lowed on insta­gram @the.hungry.otter) and loves per­form­ing and hav­ing fun.

So here we are, with a fresh new year and I knew that Med­i­na was the per­fect choice to kick us off 2022. A dark time (Covid) and com­mit­ment to self (cook­ing, sobri­ety, shed­ding old defense mech­a­nisms) bring us a new Kan­dace Med­i­na. Make no mis­take, we loved the ver­sion we saw on stage, but this new ver­sion is brim­ming with pos­si­bil­i­ties both on and off stage that only a mas­ter chef is capa­ble of.

Fol­low Kandace


Kan­dace can be seen and heard:

  • Host of Banana Phone — Open mic every Sun­days at The Creek and the Cave, 10pm
  • Co-host of Back­yard Sluts — Month­ly show­case with Arielle Isaac Nor­man
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Kandace Medina