Published on January 15th, 2013 | by Jessica Mickey0
Lauren Krass Charms Charleston
If you ask Lauren Krass if she was surprised that she placed in the top three of the Charleston Stand-Up Competition, she doesn’t hesitate to answer, “Yes. Absolutely.”
After all, the cheerful 24-year-old third-place Charleston Stand-Up Competition winner has only been hitting the Charleston open mics and occasional showcases for the last nine months. She performs this Friday (Jan. 18) with two-time champion Dusty Slay and first runner-up Andy Rider at the Stand-Up Competition Winners Showcase at the Lighthouse on Shem Creek as part of the Charleston Comedy Festival. Not too shabby for a rookie.
Krass’ foray into the Charleston comedy scene began as a self-dare, of sorts. “It was honestly all about me trying to be brave and try new things in 2012,” she explains. “I graduated from college in 2011, and being unsure about my career path, I decided, ‘Well, I’m at least gonna try some cool stuff!’ So, I took my first improv class with Theatre 99 in January, and that was great for a million different reasons. Some of my friends from that class did stand-up and encouraged me to try it out, so brave me decided to give it a shot.”
Before her first time out at Dusty Slay’s open mic night at Big Gun Burger in late March 2012, Krass wasn’t even sure if stand-up was something she wanted to pursue. “I wish I could say I always knew I wanted to do it, but I didn’t,” she admits. However, her friendly onstage persona and a bit of beginner’s luck prevailed, and she took it as a sign. “The universe knew that I needed this set to go well so I would know to keep going,” Krass remembers. But that’s only as far at the universe was willing to take her, apparently. “I proceeded to bomb continuously after that, simply because, well, stand-up is hard,” she shrugs.
Krass credits many Charleston comedians for lending their support and encouragement, including local favorites Sarah Porter, David Appleton, Vince Fabra, and Michael Clayton, to name a few, but the first comic she mentions when asked about who inspires her is Bill Davis, a long-time staple on the Holy City scene known for his not quite family-friendly material. “He might seem like an odd inspiration for me considering I’m mostly a clean comic, but the man has a natural ability to make people laugh,” she explains. “Also, recently, I’ve seen him do some sets on some tough personal topics, and he finds a way to make it funny. That’s a big part of what I’m trying to do for my own selfish reasons. I’m trying to take painful stuff from my past or present and just laugh about it. There’s so much power in that.”
As far as the “painful stuff” Krass tackles, many of her jokes focus on her struggles with body acceptance, as well as her lackluster dating and love life. Though her material is in danger of falling into the “what female comics always talk about” pit, her sunny disposition, fresh approach, and likeable demeanor doesn’t warrant pity. You can’t helped but be charmed by her. And though charm goes a long way, it was ultimately collaboration with her peers and onstage confidence that helped her evolve as a comedian. “Once I finally figured out that I wasn’t going to burst into flames if I had a bad set, things got better and fast. If you’re having a good time on stage and act like you know what you’re doing, the audience is more comfortable and way more likely to dig what you’re doing,” Krass points out. “I have a good amount of self-deprecating bits, and I try to own those. I don’t want people to say ‘awww’ at me.”
After cutting her teeth on a regular basis around town, Krass hesitantly entered the annual stand-up competition at Theatre 99 (“I almost didn’t even enter,” she confesses). After moving through multiple rounds and placing third overall, she remains modest. “I never imagined I would be a finalist,” Krass asserts, “There are a lot of talented comedians in Charleston, and I am not being hard on myself when I say that I am not the third best comedian in town. I worked hard, but luck played a role for sure.”
All humility aside, when asked how it felt to learn that she came in third place, she lights up. “This is embarrassing for me in general, and for women everywhere, but I am going to answer this honestly: I felt like I just won a pageant, and it felt great,” Krass professes. “My mind flashed back to only getting Miss Congeniality in high school, and I was like, yes, now it’s my time!”
The Stand-Up Competition Winners Showcase featuring Dusty Slay, Andy Rider, and Lauren Krass will take place at the Lighthouse on Shem Creek (100 Church St., off of Coleman Blvd.) at 8 p.m. on Fri. Jan. 18. Tickets are available for $12.50. Visit charlestoncomedyfestival.com for more information.
Top photo by Forest Casey.
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