20 Questions

(PHOTO BY SAM WORDEN)

Stephanie Holmes

By Bonnie Blackburn

Being funny got Stephanie Holmes through her Fort Wayne childhood. Learn how it gave her the chance to make Robin Williams laugh as she plays  20 Questions.Stephanie Holmes is “living the dream,” as she says, performing stand-up comedy in New York City. It’s a long way from growing up in Leo, Indiana, and believe us, she milks that distance for every laugh she can get.

Holmes has been in New York since graduation from Leo High School. She moved to New York City to attend American Music and Dramatic Academy and is a rising star in the New York-New Jersey comedy circuit. She has been featured at Caroline’s Comedy Club and was a finalist in “The New York’s Funniest” contest for The New York Comedy Festival. She has also recently been featured in Cover Girl’s “Stand Up for Beauty” with Aisha Tyler.

The daughter of Shari Schneider and Richard Holmes, she’s a member of the prestigious Friar’s Club (more on that in a bit). Holmes says getting a good laugh from her audience is addictive, and she loves the “rush” she gets every time a joke goes over well. And sure, she’s had some jokes — and performances — fall flat. But she continues to perform both live and on You Tube, where she’s got more than a dozen videos posted (www.youtube.com/user/SHolmesComedy), some less risqué than others.

Several of her videos involve her rapping with backup dancers. A white girl from Indiana, Holmes performs raps that are profane, on-topic and seriously funny. Her “Spell Check Yourself” rap, with its admonition to “spell check yourself before you wreck yourself,” has gone viral, with nearly 13,000 views as of press time.

She’s also active on Twitter, #homieholmes, and has a website, www.thestephanieholmes.com, where you can find videos of her performances (just make sure the kids are far, far away).

Holmes takes on street catcallers, the high cost of commuting in New York City (both financial and physical) and her love (lust?) for actor Jake Gyllenhaal in her videos, and they are guaranteed to make you laugh out loud.

Find out more about life in New York, what makes her laugh and her brush with Robin Williams as we play 20 Questions with Stephanie Holmes.

1 When did you first realize you were funny?
First off, thanks for thinking that I’m funny! I learned at an early age that  if I made fun of myself and I got them laughing first, I was in control.

2 What did that feel like?
I had a feeling of power when I realized I could use humor to ease tension or make people feel better. 

3 You were raised by a single mom. How much of your personality can you attribute to that upbringing?
My dad was present in my life, but I went through something that a lot of kids with divorced parents in the ’90s went through, the every other weekend father. So yes, my mom had a big impact on my life. She taught me by example that women can do anything that men can and about overcoming obstacles.  

4 What’s your writing process like?
I jot down ideas that are funny as I think of them or they happen in my life.  Then I’ll take the ideas to an open mic and just get up on stage and talk.  I audio record the whole thing and then listen back to it. The stuff that gets positive response I start writing into more structured “set up, punch line” type jokes.

5 What inspired “Spellcheck”?
I’ve always been a grammar nerd and one day after reading a horribly misspelled Facebook status update, I tweeted “Spell check yourself, before you wreck yourself.” It was retweeted over 30 times (which is a lot for me) and I knew I was onto something.

6 You’re a member of the prestigious Friar’s Club. How did that come about?
To become a Friar you must kill a Friar to prove your loyalty, and drink their blood to obtain their life force. Then, you take over their membership. This prevents over-crowding.

7 Talk about the day-to-day hustle to make a living in comedy.
One day I’ll be performing at Caroline’s on Broadway and the next I’ll be doing it a graduation party in New Jersey (true story), but I just try to take it all in stride. One day all the rejection, missed opportunities and horrible gigs will make for very interesting memoir that I can charge at least $19.99 for. 

8 Who are your comedy heroes?
Lenny Bruce, Steve Martin, Roseanne Barr, Joan Rivers, and any other comic that paved the way and made it possible for me to do what I do.

9 Talk about “working blue.” 
Basically I think that society is too hung up on “bad words.” I can curse for 20 minutes straight and it will change your and my life in absolutely no way. And there are a million things in our culture that I wish we looked at that way. For instance, gay marriage; two guys get married and your life doesn’t change. 

10 Have you ever bombed?
Any comic that tells you that they’ve never bombed is a liar. I’ve definitely had my off nights or shows that are just not conducive to comedy. I just power through because I’m a professional, then I go home and commit carbocide.

11 Tell us about your brush with Robin Williams.
It was less than a brush!  I ended up getting bumped from a show because Robin Williams took my spot, which isn’t too shabby. I spoke with him for a moment and made him laugh … it was like I won some sort of comedy gold medal!

12 You’ve lived in New York for seven years now. What was the hardest thing to get used to?
The lack of space starts to drive you a little nuts. I miss having a big living room and a yard! 

13 What’s a line you won’t cross in your comedy?
I think rape jokes can be a little too much. I just feel like a larger percentage of women than people realize have been the victims of sexual assault, not to mention that it’s a threat to every woman every day. I think there’s a difference between jokes that are racist and racial, or jokes that are homophobic and jokes that make fun of homophobia. 

14 What would make you come back home?
I do come back a couple times a year to see my friends and family. There really isn’t much of a stand-up comedy scene in Fort Wayne, so I’m sure that you understand that I need to be where the work is.  I know that when the time comes for me to start my own family, I would definitely need to move back to the Midwest.

15 What food makes you laugh when you see other people eating it?
Rice with chopsticks is nearly impossible and sure-fire amusement. Just ask the waitress for a spoon, you pretentious d-bag.

16 What do you think is funny?
The hypocrisy. Everyone freaks out about Janet Jackson’s boob and Anthony Weiner’s … well, you know, but people are demanding that we see pictures of dead Osama bin Laden and you can watch Saddam’s execution on You Tube. 

17 What’s your favorite memory?
I’ve shown all of my friends in New York You Tube clips of Happy The Hobo, and I think he’s getting an even larger cult following! 

18 What’s it like seeing yourself on You Tube and to know that 36,873 people have seen you singing about something we can’t write about in a family magazine?
I always say I’m not “family friendly” because I don’t want to perform for families. Watch my videos after your kids go to sleep. 

19 What’s been your family’s reaction? You outed your brother; was he cool with that?
I didn’t out my brother! He’s out. He’s fine with the jokes I tell about him, maybe a little flattered that he’s been memorialized in my set. 

20 Talk about your mad rappin’ skillz, yo! How’d you get so good?
What can I say? I’m the Notorious V.A.G.

Posted: Wed, 08/10/2011 - 11:58 am
Last updated: Wed, 05/23/2012 - 3:15 pm