December 2014 - Make 'Em Laugh: Mary Byrd
Mary Byrd, a Colorado Springs native, has called Albuquerque home since 1993. Her comedic style - eclectic. Current events, politics, family, neighborhood and personal observations are all targets. A mild-mannered software consultant by day, she stepped up to the stage as a stand-up comedian in 2004. Mary was a finalist in the New Mexico’s CW/ My50-TV Great Southwest Laugh-Off in 2008. She has opened for national headliners Matt Knudsen, Claude Stuart, Tommy Taylor, Jr., Janine Gardner, Bruce Baum and Patrick Candelaria. She has performed throughout New Mexico and in Arizona, California and Colorado.
What do you love about comedy?
I am addicted to laughter. I love to laugh and I love to make other people laugh. I think laughter is a special kind of magic and if you can make people laugh, on a consistent basis, you are making magic. There are very few arts that allow total control over the creative process. I get to decide what I want to talk about and how I want to present my ideas. As long as, it’s funny, you can get away with saying all kinds of outrageous things.
What was your driving force to become a stand-up comedian?
Stand-up is something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. I’m a computer instructor also and I’ve always incorporated jokes, puns and funny stories into my teaching. I have an old family friend who came to play Laff's Comedy Club many years ago and I thought, “I want to do that!” I finally got the gumption to try an open mic in the Fall of 2004 and I’ve been at it ever since. It was like I found my “calling”. I’m a comedian. I can’t go back and pretend I’m not.
How do you feel about the comic scene here in New Mexico?
The scene has changed much in the last 10 years. Many thought that the closing of our comedy club in 2008 meant the end of live comedy in Albuquerque. Far from it. There are too many funny people in this town for that to happen. So we decided to just DO IT. Comedians became Producers because we had very little choice. We refused to let the art languish just because we had no “Club”. We also, for the most part, try and support each other. Our community wants comedy and supports it. Locally owned restaurants and brew pubs such as Nexus, Broken Bottle Brewery, Back Alley and Adieux host weekly open mics. Shows are produced all over town at nightclubs and restaurants such as Low Spirits, Launchpad, Coolwater Fusion, Damn Bar, The Main Event and more. The Box Improve and Performance Space has shows EVERY Friday and Saturday. Check out the Show Schedule at AlbuquerqueComedy.com to see what’s happening on any given night.
We are also becoming known to comedians outside of the state. In the past few months, national headliners such as Doug Stanhope, Dave Ross (twice) and Matt Knudsen came to Albuquerque on purpose, because of the vibe of our scene. The Stage at Santa Ana Star Casino has embraced our local talent pool to open for touring comedians, providing valuable networking opportunities. Several podcasts are broadcast as well.
There are so many good comedians in our state. Do I like them all? Nope. I do respect them, though. We don’t do stand-up because it’s easy. We do it because there’s “something wrong” with us. We’re compelled to do it. They are my people.
Where do you pull your materials from? What is your inspiration behind your sets?
I have a big, crazy family and lots of nutty friends. Much of my comedy is just talking about my life. I also like to draw on current events, politics and observation.
What is your advice for aspiring comics?
Respect you elders! Go to open mics. Practice, practice, practice. If you love it, DON’T GIVE UP.
Where can we see you perform in the future?
I am, happily, performing for several holiday parties in December. My next public show will be on January 1st at Imbibe at 7 PM, and I’ll be producing a comedy showcase at The Box Improv and Performance Space January 10th at 10:30pm. To learn more about my upcoming performances visit www.marybcomedy.com