Emma Kiernan

Comedian Emma Kiernan on Her Journey in Standup Comedy

Episode 36

Comedy Beginnings

Emma Kiernan first realized she wanted to pursue standup comedy in 2013 when friends encouraged her to try it out. Though initially terrified due to her anxiety and past struggles with public speaking, Emma viewed it as a personal challenge she wanted to overcome. Her comedy inspirations growing up included funny musicians like Paul Reiser and musical comedians like Stephen Lynch, as well as alt-comedy from Maria Bamford and Anthony Jeselnik.

Stepping on Stage for the First Time

Emma’s very first time performing standup was at an open mic where she had no prepared material and had to improvise on the spot. Though it didn’t go well, the experience motivated her to prepare better and work on developing her on-stage persona and style. It took her almost a year after that first open mic to try again with an actual act.

Evolving Her Style Over the Years

Emma hasn’t had to change her unique comedic style much over the years, though she’s more careful now with sensitive topics and “cancel culture.” She tries to be thoughtful about phrasing while still staying true to her quirky, awkward brand.

Early Challenges in Her Career

One big challenge starting out was networking and getting stage time in New York City as an out-of-towner. By branching out to other areas first and building her comedy resume, Emma was eventually able to break into the NYC comedy scene. Her most memorable early bombing was at a show where her mic stopped working, leaving her frozen on stage.

Writing Comedy and Developing Material

Emma gets ideas for jokes randomly throughout the day and develops them from interesting premises and life stories. She shapes the content around potential punchlines. As for topics, she believes no subject is off limits as long as it’s handled thoughtfully.

Positive Reactions and Breakthroughs

Some highlights so far include being named runner-up in a major NJ comedy competition, placing in other contests, and having audience members validate her unique comedic voice. She’s learned to roll with unexpected moments like chatty drunk patrons.

Looking Ahead

Emma plans to continue honing her skills and reach larger audiences. While not a fan of viral comedy vids, she recognizes she may need an online presence. She sees live standup bouncing back after COVID. Emma advises new comics to persist, write daily, network constantly, and get on stage at every opportunity.

Catch Her Next Show

You can see Emma Kiernan live on October 20th at the Hudson Mills Tavern in Garnerville, NY. Get your tickets to this up-and-comer’s show today!

Dive Deeper into Comedy

For those looking to explore the world of comedy further, here are three platforms that offer invaluable resources:

  • Mr. Open Mic: A treasure trove for online comedy enthusiasts.
  • Joke Zoom: A haven for comedy writers looking to refine their craft.
  • Comedy Trade School: The ultimate training ground for budding comedians.