Syd Goin Practices the Art of Infinite Wakefulness

September 17, 2023

Photo Credit

Kevin Gomez


Valerie Lopez


Richard Goodwin


Regrets: this week’s guest has a few. In fact, Syd Goin apol­o­gizes right out of the gate, for decid­ing to back­track on choos­ing the word regret” as the descrip­tion for her past. She ulti­mate­ly set­tles on chaot­ic”, but not before a gen­tle dress­ing-down from Valerie Lopez on cut­ting back on all of the inter­jec­tions of Sor­ry!”.

It’s a tic many of us have, bounc­ing off the tongue reflex­ive­ly, and some­times the feel­ings asso­ci­at­ed don’t last much longer. But Goin wants you to know: she does mean it. I gen­er­al­ly feel sor­ry for my entire exis­tence, every breath,” she jokes (with the kind of under­tone that sug­gests it’s only a mod­er­ate exaggeration). 

As we learn more about Goin, I con­tin­ue to only feel more seen” (as the youths say), as she frets about pro­cras­ti­na­tion (her favorite hob­by”), whether she’s doing well at her day job, and in gen­er­al it just feels like you can hear all of the real-time (or slight­ly post) edit­ing her brain is doing as the words trav­el towards her mouth. 

I need to just hide in a hole for, like, seven to twelve business days [after a bad performance]
Syd Goin

Whether it’s the lack of sleep Goin had the night before, or the sec­ond-guess­ing of respons­es to Valerie’s ques­tions, chaot­ic” cer­tain­ly seems an apt descrip­tion of the expe­ri­ence of talk­ing with her. Brim­ming with ener­gy and rapid-fire answers, inter­spersed with an absolute­ly deca­dent gig­gle, Goin almost seems tai­lor-made for sketch and improv com­e­dy. It wasn’t her first love, as we’ll see, but in the present-day, the Hawaii-native (now of Austin) is mak­ing the most of that, per­haps being best known for the month­ly sketch show, Juice Bar, one of her sev­er­alr ongo­ing projects.

Keep­ing in the food motif, Goin also co-hosts the pod­cast Ketchup and Spice (between Goin and her long-dis­tance friend Jor­dan ). In a direc­tion with decid­ed­ly less dress­ing”, she also cre­at­ed Naked Brunch : a Youtube web series premised on get­ting down to the naked truth, over brunch”. I think this offi­cial­ly marks our first time cov­er­ing a top­less pod­cast; though to be fair, Goin notes that guests do wear aprons (and going sans-upper-gar­ment is 100% option­al). For that mat­ter, it occurs to me that we don’t actu­al­ly track what peo­ple are wear­ing in pod­casts, and per­haps that mys­tery is best left unsolved, but Brunch is on YouTube, so we duti­ful­ly ver­i­fied this par­tic­u­lar claim.

Born in Oahu, and raised in Hon­olu­lu, Goin notes the 3am wake­up the morn­ing of the inter­view isn’t too far off from the 5am start time she had grow­ing up. The ear­ly depar­ture from her house was the fam­i­ly’s attempt to beat traf­fic before the 8am school day start­ed, and one can’t help but think it trained her for the late nights of the com­e­dy biz. (Once you adjust for time zones, I mean. That’s how it works, right?)

They did tri­umph over the traf­fic at least a few times, giv­ing Goin the oppor­tu­ni­ty to kick off her per­form­ing arc by audi­tion­ing for as many oppor­tu­ni­ties as pos­si­ble, and tak­ing an act­ing class in 5th grade. Her pin­na­cle goal: play­ing Ani­ta in West Side Sto­ry. Read­er, we must, with some great sad­ness, note that she has not — to date — land­ed the role, but the rev­er­ence with which she speaks about the musi­cal sug­gests it’s nev­er going to quite be off the list.

After high school, Goin had her sights set on act­ing school…or a degree in psy­chol­o­gy. Nei­ther ulti­mate­ly panned out. The for­mer didn’t seem a sol­id choice, hav­ing decid­ed act­ing didn’t feel like her strongest suit; the lat­ter, it turns out, requires an obscene amount of school­ing, not just a com­fy couch and a good rap­port. I did col­lege so dumb,” Goin laughs about her readi­ness for the job mar­ket at the time. Hav­ing skipped intern­ships and hold­ing down part time jobs like Star­bucks, she expect­ed the school­ing to speak for itself, some­thing very famil­iar to many mod­ern graduates.

It’s hard to sleep when you’re running from your demons
Syd Goin

Luck­i­ly, the desire to per­form once again led Goin in the right direc­tion. A long-time fan of come­di­ans like Mar­garet Cho and Aparna Nan­char­la (and here she again apol­o­gizes, for not remem­ber­ing more names), she got a break by land­ing a Pro­duc­tion Assis­tant gig on FYI. Nev­er one to brag, she does also note that being a PA is an awful job”, which makes it easy to get”.

Goin also found her­self giv­ing stand-up a go, but the dread­ed bomb” bit her ear­ly, and her self-described sen­si­tive nature turned out to be more prob­lem­at­ic than expect­ed. I need to just hide in a hole for, like, sev­en to twelve busi­ness days” after a bad per­for­mance, she says, laugh­ing about the realization.

Sketch turned out to be a much bet­ter fit, and Goin pur­sued that dream in New York with class­es at the ven­er­a­ble Upright Citizen’s Brigade (UCB). Learn­ing to per­form is only a slice of the chal­lenge of the com­e­dy scene, as she also had to become a self-pro­mot­er, which — if you’ve been pay­ing atten­tion — was not endem­ic to her nature.

I still had that men­tal­i­ty of…well, if I have this thing, peo­ple will rec­og­nize it, and they’ll come to me,” Goin tells Valerie, and in a busi­ness where effec­tive­ly every­one is the CEO of their own start­up, it was some­thing she knew she had to get past. I tried to do things on my own, like an island,” she recalls, and that’s just not how any­thing works.” Once her mind­set was revised, the process and jour­ney became a lot more reward­ing and fun”.

We’re glad the jour­ney land­ed Goin in Austin, and you should get out to Juice Bar on the fourth Tues­day of every month. (If you have trou­ble remem­ber­ing, may I sug­gest the events sec­tion of a cer­tain web­site?) She’s also part of an improv duo called LUCID, with co-host Louis Bird­song (IG: @kendrick_loumar), and you can find the lat­est dates for that by fol­low­ing Goin on Instagram.

The move (with Goin’s part­ner of twelve years) and the con­stant per­form­ing have real­ly dri­ven a tran­si­tion in her style of self-assess­ment. I real­ly used to shit on myself for my com­e­dy pur­suits,” she notes, jok­ing that now I just shit on myself for oth­er things”. Real growth isn’t easy, nor is giv­ing your­self cred­it for mak­ing it happen.

Stay­ing busy is one way to fend off the nasty inner voic­es. Sleep depri­va­tion may also help; at least Goin is clear­ly work­ing to mas­ter the art of infi­nite wake­ful­ness. It’s hard to sleep when you’re run­ning from your demons,” she jokes, which is a clear boon, in both com­e­dy and time man­age­ment. When all else fails, she stays busy (and con­tent­ed­ly dis­tract­ed) by over­book­ing” herself.

Goin’s loss (of sleep) is our win, so pay your respects by catch­ing her next per­for­mance. If you can’t make it, just apol­o­gize, and – trust us — she’ll understand.

Fol­low Syd

Syd can be seen and heard:

  • Juice­bar — Month­ly Austin-based sketch com­e­dy on 4th Tues­days, 8pm at Fall­out Theater
  • Juice­box — all-ladies sketch troupe pro­duc­ing sketch­es for Gold Comedy
  • LUCID — Improv duo troupe with Louis Bird­song (IG: @kendrick_loumar ) (fol­low their insta­grams for updates)
  • Ketchup & Spice — Pod­cast between friends who live in dif­fer­ent states and stay connected
  • Naked Brunch Youtube web series
Support Comedy Wham

Follow @ComedyWham on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, Twitch, and Tiktok

If you'd like to support our independent podcast, check out our Patreon page at: . You can also support us on Venmo or Paypal - just search for ComedyWham.

Syd Goin