NOLA women comics are no joke


Laura Sanders performing a set at Barcadia. Barcadia has hosted many female comics during their biweekly open-mic events Photo credit: Davis Walden

Davis Walden

Katie East was hosting a comedy night when a man walked in and asked if she was in it.

East told him that she’d be performing in the comic portion of the show.

The man took a step back, gave her a look and said, “But you’re a woman.” East’s immediate response was “Yes, sir, they let us start telling jokes in 1973.”

East, New Orleans comedian and comedy show director at Barcadia, a local lounge and arcade bar, puts together a comedy sketch bi-weekly. The show features both local and touring comics, and East runs the entire operation along with husband Brian Bajon, executive chef of Barcadia.

Bajon said that he and East saw need in New Orleans where people could come and get a good laugh.

“We’re a city of performers, whether it’s music, food, art, comedy. It’s a city that flourishes on that; however, we don’t have any stand-ups clubs. The word is starting to get out there,” Bajon said.

East isn’t new to hosting shows. Before moving back to New Orleans, East hosted and produced a monthly comedy show that showcased talents from NBC, VH1, MTV and Comedy Central. She had also been a featured performer and co-hosted a weekly open-mic show at comedian Amy Poehler’s Upright Citizens’ Brigade Theatre.

Laura Sanders, a local comedian, said there’s a balanced community of strong performers in New Orleans. Louis C.K. handpicked comedians like East to preview his show and was reportedly impressed with the talent of performers in the area.  Up until five years ago, the comedy scene was almost nonexistent.

“Part of it is a numbers game. There’s just a lot of talented women in the [comedy] scene and a lot of talented women running businesses in the scene,” Sanders said. “I feel like this scene continues to be diverse because there’s diverse people running shows.”

Amber Miles, environmental science senior, has performed stand-up comedy in the city several times and has described it as a rewarding endeavor.

“Opens-mics generally have amazing crowds, all there to have a good time,” Miles said.

Miles began writing comedy after having analyzed the writing styles of comedians in a literature class. Miles performed a short stand-up for extra credit and has loved
it since.

“I stuck with it for that summer and went out to open-mics whenever I could but when school started again I stopped writing so much,” Miles said. “I still write a bit, but right after graduation I plan to dive back into performing.”

Despite the frequency of comedy and open-mic events in New Orleans, a simple Google search will only demonstrate a total of three comedy clubs in the city. More popularly, comedy events are hosted by bars in the form of open-mic nights.

“The lack of dedicated comedy clubs makes everyone here hustle a little more to make their own shows great,” Sanders said. “Here there’s an abundance of good people and stage time.”