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11 Things: Comedian Maddie Silverstein

11 Things: Comedian Maddie Silverstein

by Nicole Phillips

The Comedian Shares Hilarious Musings About Her LA Life and Being a Woman in Comedy Today

Born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Maddie Silverstein packed up her bags in her mid 20s after being laid off from a job to pursue her dream of becoming a comedian and model. Her eccentric childhood laid the foundation for a future filled with humor and a million funny stories to tell. With a father who ran the Chicago Playboy Club, a music industry veteran mother and a grandmother who was once a burlesque dancer, it’s no wonder that Silverstein is as fun to talk to as she is unique. We recently sat down with her to chat about life as a female comedian in LA and body positivity. The self-described, Italian beef-eating and deep-dish pizza loving girl had a lot to say - and frankly, we’re here for it.

11 Things: Comedian Maddie Silverstein
“I'm in love with both (and all) versions of myself because it gives me a unique perspective.”

Q & A with Maddie

Tell about moving to California. How does it differ from home?

Growing up I assumed I would move to New York, but the truth is I'm really afraid of birds and New York City has so many pigeons, like so many. I had never been to LA before, but after a quick search for "pigeons in LA," I decided I would move there before my 26th birthday. Chicago and LA are sooooo different. First of all, I do not trust hotdogs here (aka danger dogs) and second of all, there is no Italian beef. Everything is so healthy in LA— even when it's not. There are two versions of me: LA Maddie who goes to 6 am Yoga, sunrise hikes, eats acai, hardly eats meat, and chooses the farmer's market over brunch on Sunday. And Chicago Maddie who goes to 5 am bars to see the sunrise, eats so many hotdogs and dairy, and chooses drag brunch over everything on a Sunday. Sometimes these two meet. I'm in love with both (and all) versions of myself because it gives me a unique perspective.

Describe your humor and comedy style?

My comedy style is always evolving because it takes years to find your voice. My comedy can be dry, ridiculous, a little crude, and truthful. I like to joke about the things that weigh on my soul and then also the dumb, ridiculous things that pop into my head. Life can be sad or weird and it's okay to laugh about it! When it comes to my comedy, a gasp or an "oh nooo," is sometimes just as satisfying as a laugh.

How did your upbringing shape your sense of humor?

I was a kid going to concerts, running around hotels, and maybe accidentally learning how to burlesque dance. My parents—my mom especially, have a great yet, wicked sense of humor. She introduced us to comedy with old vinyls of Joan Rivers, George Carlin, and even Cheech & Chong plus we were allowed to stay up and watch SNL. By the time I was seven, comedy had made an impact on me. When things got tough at home I realized I could make people and myself feel better by making jokes, doing impressions, and being a little bit of an oddball. Being able to find the humor in my dark situations got me through life and gave me the ability to do the same for others. I realized that everything can be funny, sad, beautiful, happy, and ugly all at the same time and it's just how we take it moment by moment.

There is a myth out there that women comedians are not as funny as men. What is it like being a woman in comedy and who are some other women comedians that you look up to?

It's actually a cool time to be a woman in comedy because we are gaining more of a voice and presence in the comedy community. Womxn are more empowered to try comedy and talk about previously taboo topics. On the other hand, you scroll through Netflix comedy specials and there's an overwhelming amount of men compared to womxn or non-binary comics. There are still many nights where I go to an open mic and I'm the only woman getting up there—I still go up there though and tell my jokes. It's very much so a boy’s club, however it's definitely changing! My all-time favorite is Tig Notaro. She's so brilliant and her joke delivery is so dry and honest yet really likable. Alli Wong and Sarah Silverman are my crude comedy queens. As a plus-size woman, I love seeing Nicole Byer and Dulce Sloan thrive! They are hilarious and it's great to see them talk about topics near and dear to most plus-size women's hearts.

What are some of the topics that you like to make jokes about?

I love talking about diet culture and being plus-size. It is still so taboo in our culture to touch on these things as a woman yet men can get up there and talk about being fat and everyone laughs. If I can get a straight white dude to laugh at my joke about plus-size shopping then I've done my job to educate someone about the fat girl experience. Another topic I touch on a lot is depression because so many of us are depressed and the stigma has to be lifted. I can be fierce, funny, fabulous, and fly and still deal with depression! My hope is that if people see that I can be all these things at once then they can know that they can too and they're okay.

Tell us about body positivity and comedy and how they intersect.

Body positivity and comedy intersect by me just existing; by doing what I want to do no matter what my body looks like, I feel like I'm doing important work. Growing up, I thought I could only be the funny, fat friend and that was my assigned role in this life. I am the funny fat friend, but so much more. Most nights, I go up and talk about the plus-size experience and how messed up diet culture is while dressing how I want so that I'm heard, but also so that other people feel seen.

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