It is my pleasure to introduce all you readers to Abigoliah Schamaun, a hilarious comic and brilliant conversationalist. Starting stand-up on a whim in 2009 at the People’s Improv Centre (NYC), she now is now coming to a theatre near you with her show ‘Do you know who I think I am?’. Contrary to her American roots, we started the interview talking about the weather which, at the time, was absolutely beautiful and sunny…. Unlike where I am writing today with rain drizzling down the train window beside me.
Schamaun’s belief that anything can be talked about in comedy if ‘discussed in context’ made it apparent early on that her comedy is refreshing and unique. This idea is further ratified when considering what she mentioned after, about how being shocking for the sake of shocking isn’t funny. Instead, you need to approach a topic from the right angle and ensure your ‘punchline is punching the right people’. This nuanced approach to performance can be seen throughout the numerous YouTube clips of her work and also live, which you can all see for yourself on the 23rdof October at Komedia. From a young age Schamaun performed plays for her parents in their living room and loved making them laugh. This progressed to her favouring the funny roles while she studied theatre in New York. Having had a passion for humour since childhood that has progressed throughout her lifetime, it is no surprise that her hour being live on stage is one of the ‘happiest places [she] can be’.
When asked about how she has found being a woman in comedy, her response was ‘Women is not a sub-genre of comedy’. Before anything else, Schamaun is a comedian – the whole gender aspect doesn’t really come into play initially. She mentioned how she deals with the assumptions made about her due to being American, a woman and how people often expect her to conform to ‘gender normative behaviours’. Her shaved head, pink hair and tattoos often lead the public to have specific opinions that her comedy routine does not back away from. The direct openness and lack of rambling, allows her to attack these views with such humour that I really recommend seeing her live for the full effect.
Her show ‘Do you know who I think I am?’ gives three key tips on how to be confident, that Schamaun jokes is in her DNA as an American. I shan’t dish out any spoilers; however, throughout the interview Schamaun had me laughing on the other end of the line as she treated me to a few select minutes of stand-up. As well as this, Schamaun talks about her depression after her father died and her experiences of coping with it. Struck by the raw openness she offered, I asked to what extent was it scary/emotional to talk about such personal experiences on stage. Her response was to quote an old writing teacher of hers from college who said, ‘if you tell everyone about you, then no one can hold it against you’, which struck a chord in me. When you laugh at something you take its power away and there is something ‘freeing’ about that whole process. I was pleasantly surprised to find that her poignant messages of being confident and valuing yourself stuck with me throughout the day and are still thoughts I look back on when needing to.
There is a small chance that this is starting to sound like a self-help guide. For those of you concerned, just read on a bit more. Throughout the entirety of the interview Abigoliah Schamaun had me laughing and smiling as I spoke to her about her work and after hanging up the phone, I was filled with a feeling of quiet happiness for throughout the day. Schamaun mentioned that her goal in comedy is to first make the audience laugh, and if what she says should resonate with them – then that’s a happy coincidence.
Abigoliah Schamaun’s stand up is a natural progression and extension of performing in her living room as a child. She is a comic that brings pure gold to the stage. I can promise you that should you see her live you will not regret it, and if you miss this hour of comedic brilliance then I hope for your sake she does another tour very soon.