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April 1, 2019

#01 - Nina G. - Overcoming Inspiration

#01 - Nina G. - Overcoming Inspiration

Nina G. is a comedian, professional speaker, storyteller, writer and educator. She brings her humor to help people confront and understand Disability culture, access, and empowerment. We met when we were students at San Francisco Comedy College 10 yrs ago. We talked about her upcoming new book Stutter Interrupted: The Comedian Who Almost Didn’t Happen along with politics and being a woman in Comedy. Intro/Entro Song: Train Tracks by Inappropriate Things  www.ninagcomedian.com www.veecomedy.com @porasspodcast - Instagram & Twitter  @veronicaporras - Twitter @veeporras - Instagram Venmo: @BMERecovery For a personal video message from me get me on Cameo! - search Veronica Porras --- This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/porasspodcast/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/porasspodcast/support

Transcript

Por*Ass Podcast

Episode 1: Overcoming Inspiration

VERONICA PORRAS: Hello, this is Veronica Porras, host of People I Want to Interview, Episode 1. I’m here with Nina G.

NINA G: Hi.

BOTH: [chuckle]

NINA G: Hi, Veronica.

VERONICA: Hi, Nina.

NINA G: Hi.

VERONICA: It’s been so long.

NINA G: I know! Now we’re here in this soundproof booth. [laughs]

VERONICA: Yeah, soundproof booth, aka Nina’s car. And we are in the Pruneyard in Campbell, California, and I’m doing this series of people I want to interview: people who I’ve found inspiring and my friends that I want to learn more about them, get their story. So, let’s get right to it!

I don’t want this to be the type of interview with like, “How’d you get into comedy?”

NINA G: Mmhmm.

VERONICA: I hate that question. It’s played out. Everyone asks that question. I wanna get to the meat of it.

NINA G: OK. Let’s talk about meat.

VERONICA: Let’s talk about your book.

NINA G: Oh, OK.

VERONICA: Let’s talk about your meat. Let’s talk about meat. Let’s talk about your book.

NINA G: OK. Well, the book is basically how I got into comedy. [laughs]

VERONICA: Great. [laughs]

NINA G: Well, no, and it’s not just that. I just wanted to mess up your question.

BOTH: [laugh]

NINA G: But OK, so the book is Stutterer Interrupted: The Comedian Who Almost Didn’t Happen. And it is just about my relationship to comedy and stuttering. And so, it is, in part, about how I became a comic because I wanted to be a comedian since I was 11 years old. And it didn’t happen till I was 36, and that’s when I met you.

BOTH: [chuckle]

NINA G: And a lot of that was because of my speech and thinking that you had to be fluent in order to be a comedian and how I came to that.

VERONICA: Awesome. So, Nina and I met at San Francisco Comedy College, and that is a school run—

NINA G: [laughs] Yes.

VERONICA: —run by Curtis Matthews. Google it. And that’s how I got my start in comedy, and frankly, if it wasn’t for San Francisco Comedy, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now.

NINA G: Mmhmm.

VERONICA: My comedy path has taken me into recovery comedy. I do recovery comedy from the friends and family perspective of growing up in an alcoholic home. That is my path; that’s my calling. And I’ve been working on that for the past, I wanna say, seven years. So, with your path, I’ve seen your stuff before. I’ve seen you perform, and your first sentence is, “I’m the world’s”—

NINA G: So, I was the world’s only female comedian. Then there was one in India.

VERONICA: Oh!

BOTH: [chuckle]

VERONICA: Nice.

NINA G: Yes, yes. And so, I lost that crown.

VERONICA: [laughs]

NINA G: And then I was America’s only, and then a woman who stutters started doing comedy in New York so that I became the West Coast’s only. And then the woman from New York moved to L.A.

VERONICA: Nice.

NINA G: So, now I’m the Bay Area’s only female stuttering standup comic. And part of that is, is as you know, women in comedy are rarer than men, and we’re out numbered there. But also in the stuttering world, if you have four people who stutter, one’s going to be a woman, and the other are going to be men. So, it’s like my, what are those circles, the constresuhsuh circles, the? You know, it’s a Venn Diagram. I wanted to use a fancier word. But I have two circles that are predominantly male-dominated, and so when you combine those, it’s a small club.

VERONICA: Mm, yeah. So, on top of that, when you first started, you were the only stuttering comedian. So, now that more—

NINA G: The only female.

VERONICA: The only female.

NINA G: Yes.

VERONICA: But in the demographic of stuttering comics, it’s still pretty small.

NINA G: Yes.

VERONICA: So, with that in place, how many other female stuttering comics have you come across?

NINA G: There’s a woman in England who was doing it for some time. I’m not sure what her status is. She’s something that I didn’t get to know. Pooja, I’m gonna mess up her last name, and I probably messed up her first name. But Pooja was India’s only female comedian who stutters, and then she is now going to college on the East Coast. So, she is one of those. And then there’s also a woman in Los Angeles who I’m not sure if she’s currently doing it. But Pooja was like she really took on India. She got so much press, and also, she was doing really incredible stuff too because she was working with non-profits to talk about bullying online and just all kinds of cool stuff. So, I was really proud of her and what she did.

VERONICA: Awesome. I wanna ask the whole…as a woman in comedy, since I’ve met you, since I’ve seen you develop as a comedian, I’ve seen you as a trailblazer. And as part of that, as a woman, other women come up the ranks. And something that I’ve noticed with women trailblazers and women following the same path, it tends to get a little Highlander.

NINA G: Mmhmm.

VERONICA: And what are you doing to help mentor instead of getting a little Highlander?

NINA G: OK.

VERONICA: So, for those who don’t understand the Highlander reference is there could only be one. [laughs]

NINA G: Mmm, yeah.

VERONICA: And I see those behaviors where I don’t see that when males try to build each other up.

NINA G: Mmhmm. Mm, that’s interesting, yeah. I mean I think for me, I think when you stutter— Like, I always had a joke, or people would always joke with me ‘cause I would go to the stuttering conference, which is once a year, and it’s an amazing time.

VERONICA: What’s the stuttering conference?

NINA G: Oh, it is the National Stuttering Association, and it’s 800 of us. And we go to a hotel every year. It’s around July 4th, and it’s amazing. And you see yourself reflected in everybody, and that was a thing that was the thing that changed my life twice. Twice it changed my life. But people there would say, “Oh, yeah! So, this person’s thinking about comedy, and I bet if she did it, you would cut her, right?” I’m all, “Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I would cut her.” But secretly, I wanted people to do it because I think for me, as a comedian, one of the things that really helped my voice was being part of the Comedians with Disabilities Act, and Michael O’Connell, who was the head of that.

VERONICA: He recently passed away.

NINA G: He passed away about two years ago, yeah. And actually, my book, one of the people that it’s dedicated to is him.

VERONICA: Mmhmm.

NINA G: And just being part of that group and part of that community helped me to develop my voice. And I think yeah, I don’t know. There’s that competitive part that women, we get into, but for me, when I was a kid, I always wanted a stuttering girlfriend.

VERONICA: [laughs]

NINA G: I always wanted to find that, and I’d have these fantasies, these intricate fantasies. And my speech therapist when I was a kid, like now there’s these groups for kids, and there’s conferences. Friends is an association of young people who stutter, and they have a conference every year. And they go to amusement parks, and they go just have fun. And they all happen to talk the same way, but they have fun. That’s something I always wanted. But back then, back in the 80s, they didn’t want stuttering kids to go to the conferences because they didn’t think that the, like, if the kids saw an adult who stuttered, they’d say, “Oh, fuck this. I’m not gonna be in speech therapy anymore.”

VERONICA: Oh.

NINA G: And so, they didn’t let us be in the same room. [laughs]

VERONICA: That was the logic behind that?

NINA G: Yeah, according to one of my friends who is an OG in the stuttering world. And so, now they know that that’s not true. ‘Cause I never grew up really seeing anybody who stuttered except for a few examples on Howard Stern and stuff like that. So, anyway.

I wanted a girlfriend who stuttered, and my speech therapist when I was 11, she had another girl of the same age in her practice, and she invited us both to kind of have like a play therapy date where we would talk about it and stuff. And I was like, “OH MY GOD! We’re gonna be best friends! And there’s gonna be like Laverne & Shirley, but we both stutter!”

VERONICA: [laughs]

NINA G: It was a whole buildup in my mind, and I dressed in my full-on Esprit outfit.

VERONICA: Esprit! [laughs]

NINA G: Esprit!

VERONICA: Awesome.

NINA G: I loved the Esprit outlet when I was a kid.

VERONICA: Oh, Esprit.

NINA G: I don’t know if you ever went.

VERONICA: I do remember Esprit.

NINA G: You may have been a little too young for the Esprit outlet.

VERONICA: I was probably a teenager, and they went bankrupt.

NINA G: Yeah, I know. So sad.

VERONICA: Wait. But no one bought them.

NINA G: No. No, I think they just built lofts where the outlet was.

And so, I met this girl, and she wasn’t feeling me at all. Like, we were just too different. Because even though you stutter, doesn’t mean that you could overcome all of your social class differences and all of that, you know? [laughs]

VERONICA: I don’t wanna be like, “Oh, I know this person, insert race. Maybe you could be friends.”

NINA G: Yeah! [laughs] OK. So, my speech therapist, it’s her husband stuttered, and he was part of the NSA, of the, yeah! So, she got it from the inside.

VERONICA: OK.

NINA G: So, she knew what it meant to have a community. So, it wasn’t like— ‘Cause I’ve also had that.

VERONICA: Mmhmm. [laughs]

NINA G: And it’s— [laughs]

VERONICA: Well, yeah.

NINA G: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s like, “Oh, I know this person who stutters.”

VERONICA: Do you know them? [laughs]

NINA G: Do you know them? And sometimes we do.

VERONICA: [laughs harder]

NINA G: ‘Cause at first, I get like, “I don’t know everybody!” Oh, no. Him? Yeah, I totally know him.

BOTH: [laugh]

VERONICA: I know. It’s like I think people want to relate, but they just come off like, wow, that was really sexist of you to say that. [laughs]

NINA G: Mmhmm. Yeah.

VERONICA: I’m like, OK, I’m just gonna presume goodwill, and you tried.

NINA G: Yeah. And it kinda depends on your day, the way that you handle it, so.

VERONICA: Yeah. I was listening to NPR, and Emily Blunt—

NINA G: Yes!

VERONICA: Did you hear the interview?

NINA G: I didn’t hear what she said, but I’ve heard what she’s said in the past.

VERONICA: OK. So, it was a recent interview when Mary Poppins is out, and so she’s interviewing with Terry Gross. And she used to stutter, as in used to and no longer.

NINA G: Yes.

VERONICA: And the way—this is just my perspective—but the way she came off on how she overcame stuttering, it sounded like conversion therapy.

NINA G: Oh, OK. Say more about that ‘cause I didn’t hear it.

VERONICA: [laughs] You didn’t hear it?

NINA G: No.

VERONICA: OK. You have to listen to the interview. This is just my take on it. And I think she meant well.

NINA G: Yeah.

VERONICA: She was teased growing up, so I get that part. But the way she talked about it was like, “This can be cured.”

NINA G: Oh, really?!

VERONICA: Yeah.

NINA G: Oh, interesting.

VERONICA: So, we’re Facebook friends. I follow you. I read your statuses. And you do joke about this whole curing stuttering.

NINA G: Yeah.

VERONICA: And I wanna know more about is this— Like, I would compare to someone— You can’t cure gay.

NINA G: Yeah.

VERONICA: That’s just who they are.

NINA G: Yeah.

VERONICA: And I think it’s very narcissistic that this narrative of like, “Just go to a school. Just do a therapy session,” like this hyper hard-on to get kids fluent. Whereas, hey, why don’t you stop being an asshole and just shut up and listen.

NINA G: Yes!

VERONICA: Like, sorry I have to wait five seconds to wait for a communication to be communicated to you.

NINA G: Yeah.

VERONICA: But yeah. I don’t see a societal acceptance of yeah, people stutter; get over it.

NINA G: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. No. And that is— OK. So, there’s so much there. First of all, last night, I was at the Punchline, and I had a comedian come up and say, “Isn’t there a surgery you could have?”

BOTH: [laugh]

NINA G: Which, I’ve gotten that a few times.

VERONICA: Yeah!

NINA G: And then I was like, “Well, a frontal lobotomy isn’t really what I’m into just so that I can be more fluent.” Because that is where stuttering is, is that it is in the brain, and it’s right next to Broca’s area, which is the expressive part of the brain or like the language-producing part of the brain. And so, we have a sensitivity there, and that is why if we sing or if we use a funny voice, then we don’t stutter. And that’s why I always tell people that Marilyn Monroe—

VERONICA: Yeah, yeah.

NINA G: Yeah! [raises pitch and half-whispers] That’s why she talks like this. And if I talk like this, I would be pretty fluent. [back to regular voice] But then I’d talk like that!!!

BOTH: [laugh]

VERONICA: It totally makes sense now. And she got janked over by Hollywood majorly.

NINA G: Yeah!

VERONICA: And that’s just what people did.

NINA G: Yes.

VERONICA: You know, pre-Harvey Weinstein, this culture, the casting couch culture of…. I could understand why she ODed and did drugs.

NINA G: Yeah.

VERONICA: The amount of pressure. Judy Garland went through the same bullshit of just like these Hollywood dicks. Just like, if a woman to succeed, this is what you need to do.

NINA G: Yeah, totally.

VERONICA: And you know what? If Marylin, maybe there’s an alternate universe where there is a Marilyn Monroe, and she’s like 95 with a stutter.

NINA G: Yeah!

VERONICA: And the first stuttering Hollywood actress of the 50s, just, “Fuck you. Zero fucks to Hollywood. I’m gonna do it my way.” But in this dimension, we got the Marilyn Monroe—

NINA G: And she was still great, and she was still fabulous and all of that. And really powerful from a sexual and a comedic part too. I call her one of the original SILFs, a stutterer I’d like to fuck.

VERONICA: [chuckles]

NINA G: So, you know, I’m very proud of her. But the thing is, is what do you give up when you have to modify how you speak? And so, there’s a couple ways to think about therapy. One is more fluency. In fluency, sometimes we will be in the therapist’s office—in the way that I was taught it— [slows down and stretches out syllables] was to talk like this because I could be fluent. All. Day. Long. If I talked like this. [back to regular voice] But then I would talk like that, and that would drive me crazy.

VERONICA: [laughs]

NINA G: It might drive you crazy. It’s not what I’m into! And it’s not me. It’s not how I express myself.

VERONICA: Mmhmm.

NINA G: But there’s this other kind of therapy. And the American Institute on Stuttering is a really big advocate of this, which is interesting because Emily Blunt is on their Board. She helps with their gala every year.

VERONICA: Yeah, yeah.

NINA G: And so, I wonder if they’re—‘cause I hadn’t heard the interview—but if there’s kind of this pull from Fresh Air lady. What’s her name?

VERONICA: Terry Gross.

NINA G: Yes. To kind of pull like, oh, what’s the cure? What is the magic bullet?

VERONICA: I got mad. I mean, I consider myself an ally, and I need training too, and you help me on this. But I don’t know if it was appropriately for me to get mad. It just, I felt that it was like why isn’t NPR talking to people like you?

NINA G: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

VERONICA: But then we’re doing this in your car.

NINA G: Yes. Yes, exactly.

VERONICA: So, it’s like, how do we get other narratives out?

NINA G: Yes, totally! No, and that is where the narrative that everybody likes is when you overcome it.

VERONICA: Yeah.

NINA G: And—

BOTH: [laugh]

NINA G: Yeah!

VERONICA: That leads me into the topic of the whole inspiration.

NINA G: Yes.

VERONICA: And talk a little bit about that.

NINA G: OK. So, Stella Young—

VERONICA: How are you overcoming inspiration? [laughs]

NINA G: Yes. OK. Yeah, no, that could be the title of this: Overcoming Inspiration.

VERONICA: Yes! OK.

NINA G: Yes! I love that. [laughs]

VERONICA: Overcoming Inspiration. You found my title.

NINA G: Yes. OK. So, Stella Young was a comedian. She has since passed, but she was a comedian with a disability from Australia. And she did a TED Talk, and it was on inspiration porn, OK?

VERONICA: Mmhmm. [laughs]

NINA G: And you’re gonna love this. Oh my god.

VERONICA: OK. I’ll look it up.

NINA G: This is such a Veronica thing.

VERONICA: [laughs]

NINA G: So, inspiration porn is when you present a disability to somebody, or you present as a way to objectify it. And part of it is, it’s like, “Oh, I’m so glad I’m not you.”

VERONICA: Yes.

NINA G: Yes.

VERONICA: Yes! That’s like every More You Know! [laughs]

NINA G: Yes! [laughs]

VERONICA: NBC after school special. Oh my god.

NINA G: Oh, totally. It’s all that.

VERONICA: Yes. [laughs]

NINA G: Yeah. And that’s where the after school Jerri Blank— You saw that one, right?

VERONICA: No. I think that’s before me.

NINA G: OK. Then I won’t even go there.

VERONICA: [laughs]

NINA G: But yeah, they did that. So, yeah. So, there is that element that the media hasn’t undone yet, and I see it getting worse right now. And in the stuttering forums that I’m on online, I see a lot of people really focused on curing themselves, where I really think the emphasis— And this is where if I said to people like, “Oh, yes. I’m working on my speech all the time so that I can be fluent,” people would be like, “Oh, yeah. That’s great. Good for you.” But instead, I’m like, “No. I’m trying to educate people to shut the fuck up and to listen.” And people, I think, are a bit confused about that.

VERONICA: Mmhmm.

NINA G: But I really want people to look at— So, there’s this theory, and I’ve talked to my friend Mean Dave about this who is in recovery.

VERONICA: I love Mean Dave, love him.

NINA G: Yes. And so, he has looked at this from a recovery way with me. There is a theory from Sheehan from way, way back that says that stuttering is like an iceberg, that the very tip of it is what you see: that is our speech. That’s our repetition, that’s our blocks. But then, underneath that are the feelings. And Sheehan said that those feelings were things like isolation, shame, guilt.

VERONICA: Yes, yes.

NINA G: Yes.

VERONICA: That’s all the recovery, yeah!

NINA G: Yes! Yes.

VERONICA: Yeah. That’s a lot of recovery right there: the shame, the guilt, the isolation.

NINA G: Yeah. But the thing is, is that if you just shift your perspective, it doesn’t have to be all of that stuff. That the shame could be acceptance, that guilt could be kindness to yourself or to others, and hopelessness can be hope, and isolation can turn into community. And I just feel like there’s such an emphasis to make a disability like it’s the worst thing in the world, or it has all this power. And it’s like, I have brown hair, I have my grandmother’s big ass, and I talk this way.

BOTH: [laugh]

VERONICA: And you’re Italian.

NINA G: Yeah, and I’m Italian. In case you couldn’t tell by the language, yeah.

VERONICA: [laughs] That’s so great.

What else is in the book? What do you want people to get out of the book when they read it?

NINA G: Yeah. I mean, I think kinda like the last chapter is a call to action where I say that yeah, I have my own iceberg, and everybody who stutters has their own icebergs. But also, TV producers have their own fucking icebergs, and they need to look at that.

VERONICA: Yeah, yes.

NINA G: Because what is underneath their stuff? And this isn’t only on a disability issue; this could be on anything.

VERONICA: Yeah. We’re in the entertainment field. I was watching Netflix, and I saw Ellen’s Relatable. Really funny.

NINA G: I haven’t seen it yet.

VERONICA: I like it. I really like it. And you know, I was in high school when her show got cancelled, when it’s the coming out episode. I was in high school. At the time when her show got cancelled and she came out as gay, I remember it being like a big thing.

NINA G: Mmhmm.

VERONICA: But I didn’t realize— OK, now that I’m about to turn 40 January 1st, so yeah.

NINA G: Whooo!!! Happy birthday!

VERONICA: Yeah.

NINA G: It’s the 31st for everybody out there. [laughs]

VERONICA: 31st. It’s the 31st right now, and it’s tomorrow. So, now that I’m a certain age and I’m watching her show, she talks about it. She talks about it, and she didn’t get work for three years.

NINA G: Wow!

VERONICA: And her friend, Laura Dern, who played her girlfriend on the show, she didn’t get work for two years. And I status on Facebook that I’m watching Ellen’s show, and I was like, “I really hope the people who didn’t give her work are eating crow right now.”

NINA G: Yeah.

VERONICA: It was like, fuck you. Zero fucks to the people who—

NINA G: And I’m sure she didn’t say, “Fuck.” [laughs]

VERONICA: No. No, in her very Ellen way, in her very Ellen way, it was like fuck you.

NINA G: Yeah. [chuckles

VERONICA: Fuck. You.

NINA G: In the nicest possible, most likeable way. [laughs]

VERONICA: Yes, yes. I’m like, yes. Success is the sweet revenge, and I don’t even know where those people are. And it’s a very— I mean, it’s only in American Hollywood that I see this type of narcissistic systematic like, “You’ll never work in this town again.”

NINA G: Yeah.

VERONICA: But at the time, there wasn’t YouTube. So, it’s like now, it’s like if Hollywood came up to me, a 40-year-old Mexican woman, it’s like, “Oh, you’ll never get booked,” I’m like, “I have YouTube. Go fuck yourself.” [laughs]

NINA G: Yeah. Yeah, exactly! That now we can create our own shit!

VERONICA: Yeah. I keep saying every under-representative, you know, the stuttering, all the stutterers out there, all the people of color, stuttering people of color, who’s gonna give them a chance? And I’m sure they’re very beautiful and very talented. I’m like, “Get a YouTube.”

NINA G: Yeah! Totally!

VERONICA: No one’s gonna do it for you.

NINA G: No.

VERONICA: No one’s gonna do it for you.

NINA G: And I just wrote my first academic comedy article that is published today, and so it’s like—

VERONICA: What’s the website?

NINA G: Oh, I don’t know! Because it is in a book, and the book is like a really long, academic title.

VERONICA: I’ll put it in the show notes.

NINA G: Yeah, put it in the show notes.

VERONICA: [laughs]

NINA G: But it’s a great book, and it’s $200. So, get your library to buy it. But in it, I say that it’s like who are all of the famous comics who have a disability? They’re all white dudes, and it’s like the producers, that they think people’s heads will explode if there’s any kind of intersectionality.

VERONICA: They said that to Ellen: “Who’s gonna watch a lesbian at the daytime?” That told her, a station manager.

NINA G: Oooooh!

VERONICA: She talks about it in her special, like when she wasn’t working for three years, and The Ellen Show came into her lap. And station managers were like, “Who’s gonna watch a lesbian at 9:00 am?”

NINA G: Wow.

VERONICA: And apparently, a lot of people do. [laughs]

NINA G: A lot of people do! And you got like a Maybelline—

VERONICA: Covergirl. Covergirl.

NINA G: Yeah, Covergirl. She was a Covergirl!

VERONICA: Yeah.

NINA G: Come on!

VERONICA: She’s the voice of Dora.

NINA G: Oh, she is??!!

VERONICA: Little Nemo, Dora.

NINA G: Oh, OK. I thought you meant the one with the map.

VERONICA: Oh, the map, no. That’s a Mexican girl.

NINA G: ‘Cause yeah, I was gonna say, that would not be cool. So, I’m glad it’s a fish.

VERONICA: It was Dora.

NINA G: OK. [laughs]

VERONICA: No. What was the fish’s name?

NINA G: I don’t know.

VERONICA: [sighs] Dora, the fish. The fish who forgets, she’s the voice of that.

NINA G: OK. [laughs]

VERONICA: She’s that, and yeah, success is the best revenge ever.

NINA G: Mmhmm.

VERONICA: So, I don’t understand this whole— And she’s just punished for being gay in Hollywood!

NINA G: Yeah.

VERONICA: Hollywood is like 100% gay.

NINA G: Mmhmm.

VERONICA: So, where is this behavior, this mentality even coming from? And then you have the Matt Lauers, the Harvey Weinsteins, Les Moonves, who, because of the work of Ronan Farrow, Rose McGowan, and other women that are coming out of being silenced, the shift on who to punish is displaced.

NINA G: Yeah, yeah.

VERONICA: Is majorly displaced.

NINA G: Yeah.

VERONICA: Where before Harvey Weinstein, it was so acceptable. That was the paradigm. It was so acceptable, like yeah! I’ll go to a hotel room and audition. So normal. So normal. And then after the whole Bill Cosby, the whole Harvey and everything, now if I get…I’m questioning now.

NINA G: Mmhmm.

VERONICA: And then I’m questioning nude scenes now.

NINA G: Mmhmm! Well, yeah, because in the movie Frida, that was such a Harvey Weinstein thing.

VERONICA: It was! It was! It was!

NINA G: Oh, it made me so sick. It was so abusive.

VERONICA: Oh, it was so fucking gross.

NINA G: Because in the movie, I was like, this lesbian scene makes no sense.

VERONICA: That’s what my mom said!

NINA G: Yes!

VERONICA: I never saw it. That’s what my mom said. She was so confused, and that was what my mom said. It was like, “That lesbian scene was just really—I don’t know—the whole movie was great, but the lesbian scene was just, didn’t fit.” And I was like, well, I guess that’s Hollywood. They just wanna put some two girls making out just to sell tickets.

NINA G: Yeah.

VERONICA: And then Salma Hayek comes with her story. I’m like, oh my god. It totally makes sense. She didn’t even wanna do the scene.

NINA G: No!

VERONICA: She had to be on tranquilizers to do that scene.

NINA G: Mm.

VERONICA: And no question. I got a response back from a— No, it was a casting call, and I read it, and it was like a nude scene, and it didn’t make sense. And I asked. I emailed the producer. I’m like, “How does this advance the story?”

NINA G: Oh!

VERONICA: Never got a reply back.

NINA G: Wow!

VERONICA: Yeah. So, you know, it may have cost me a casting, but at the same time, my brother and I talk about Hollywood is just investing millions of dollars into special effects. Like, oh, we have this new software! And I’m like, great! Does it help with the story?

NINA G: [laughs]

VERONICA: I’m like, why don’t you develop a software that detects plot holes?

NINA G: Yeah.

BOTH: [laugh]

NINA G: Bad writing!

VERONICA: Yeah. Yeah! Like stop writing.

NINA G: Hackery. Yeah.

VERONICA: [robot voice] Stop writing. Movie is over. Stop writing. [laughs]

NINA G: [robot voice] This has already been done.

BOTH: [laugh]

VERONICA: So, you have this book coming up. You have the YouTube channel. You are putting out your own content. Let’s talk about trolls.

NINA G: Mmhmm! Yeah! As you know, you’re my Facebook friend…. [laughs] Are you gonna say?

VERONICA: Yeah. So, wait. First, talk about what’s a troll. Some people may not know what a troll is.

NINA G: Right. OK. So, you know—and I’m sure there’s another definition—but it’s just somebody who goes on for sport to criticize you. And I find that predominantly most of the comments on my YouTube channel are all trolls.

VERONICA: Mmhmm.

NINA G: So, that is my experience with them.

VERONICA: Do you get anyone who’s like, “Oh my god. Thank you?”

NINA G: Yes. Yes.

VERONICA: OK. [laughs]

NINA G: I definitely do. They’re not as much fun for me to talk shit about though.

VERONICA: [laughs]

NINA G: So, there is that. Yeah, but no, and I love it. I get messages a few times a month from people like, “Oh my god. I stutter too, and it’s just so great to see you doing this,” and that kind of thing. It’s like, if they call me an inspiration, I’m OK with it. It’s just when people are like, “Oh my god! You opened your mouth. Good for you. You’re such an inspiration.”

VERONICA: Yeah, when fluent people say that you’re inspiration.

NINA G: Exactly.

VERONICA: Yeah.

NINA G: That, I have a problem with.

VERONICA: [laughs]

NINA G: And so, but then a lot of it is people telling me I should try weed or mushrooms for my speech, that I should, like say, “Oh wow! You were so great, and this is so wonderful. With that being said, I would love to see your tits,” or something like that, or, “I’d love to show you my penis.” So, there’s those sexualized kinds of things. And mostly, it’s just that women aren’t funny, and why should a stuttering comic be a comic? That I should find something else to do with my life.

VERONICA: Mmhmm.

NINA G: And you know, this is based off of a two-minute set that I did, that I knew heckler videos are such a thing, and this was a heckler video that I have over a million hits with. So, all these insults have also paid me $1500 throughout the years.

BOTH: [laugh]

VERONICA: Just feeding the machine.

NINA G: Yeah, no. It’s just passive income, so.

VERONICA: [laughs] Passive-aggressive income.

NINA G: YEAH!! Oh my god, yes.

BOTH: [laugh]

VERONICA: Do you ever have a conversation with these trolls?

NINA G: No! No, I don’t. The only time that I have engaged was when a guy said, “Obviously, she doesn’t stutter because she looks really confident on there. And someone who has confidence doesn’t stutter.”

VERONICA: Mm.

NINA G: I was like, oh, fuck. Now I gotta explain this. And so, I went on, and I explained it. And then of course, he engaged more and more and more, and I was like, OK, now I’m gonna stop. But one of the ways that I have dealt with having a YouTube channel—and I think this is important for anybody—is thinking about how and if you’re going to engage. I choose to engage by making fun of the people on my Facebook, in my own private way, and I just let stuff go. And I don’t disabled my comments, and this was a total codependency thing. Because you know how there’s a group of people, and you can just hear someone starting to dig themselves a racist hole, you know? It’s like, oh, if they go down this path, I know they’re gonna say something that I’m gonna get douche chills on, and I don’t wanna. And so, I try to save them from themselves. And I’ve understood that about myself and my tendency to do that. And I’m not gonna do that online. These are awful people, or maybe they got problems. Maybe they’re just acting out, maybe. Whatever. But it’s not my responsibility to tame them, you know, or to do something about them. It’s just there. I’m gonna leave it there, and if they wanna showcase that they’re assholes, that’s fine. Now, if they say something kinda racist and stuff like that, I will take that off ‘cause I just don’t want to have that on there. But yeah, otherwise, it’s like, I can’t control them, so I’m not going to engage.

VERONICA: Yeah. I was listening to this one—I listen to a lot of NPR, and I love Fresh Air—one interview was with the girl who did— No, it was another woman, and she got a troll comment. And she was heavily trolled because of, I don’t know, her feminist post, I guess, triggered someone. [laughs]

NINA G: OK. And so, this is just as an aside. I got a gazillion, not a gazillion, but I got almost 100,000 hits the week of the first Women’s March.

VERONICA: Mm. Oh!

NINA G: Yeah!

VERONICA: I remember. OK, just go on.

NINA G: Yeah. And so, I asked my friend, Scott, who is a math professor. I’m all, OK, here’s the numbers. There’s a super crazy big peak. What is that? Could that be by chance? And he was like, “No, it’s 15 standard deviations from the norm of my channel that it would be one in a billion chance that this is a random act.” And so, what it seems like—and I don’t know; I’m just correlation does not mean causation; I learned that in Stats—but it seems that people were acting out on my YouTube.

VERONICA: Mmhmm, mmhmm.

NINA G: So, I think there is something like that faceless male version of themselves can do that. So, but you were saying about this person.

VERONICA: Yeah, yeah. I don’t know if her trolling correlated during the Women’s March, but it was a troll. And she did engage and started a conversation and a dialogue. She doesn’t do it all the time, but she did it with this one troll that turned out the core of the trolling was because he’s lonely.

NINA G: Mm.

VERONICA: And I try not to engage. Sometimes I do, and it just causes me more harm. But I think it totally makes sense. A lot of trolls, from what I’ve seen, a lot of trolls are coming from the guys. And the probably are lonely.

NINA G: Yeah.

VERONICA: And I don’t know. I’m not a guy, so I don’t know what support a guy needs. But as a woman, and I have experience patriarchal behaviors where patriarchy isn’t very healthy. It’s not healthy for men either.

NINA G: Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

VERONICA: Whatever privilege that you’re getting out of it, at what cost? Like with Marilyn Monroe, I’m like, OK, great. You’re a CEO. Great, you’re a manager. Great, you get paid more than me. But you’re still fucking miserable.

NINA G: Yeah. Yeah, no.

VERONICA: And you’re acting out, and you’re taking it out passive-aggressively. Or you’re just acting out through rape, or you’re acting out through misogyny. Or you’re just acting out ‘cause you yourself are jealous because society’s giving you this message of like, you’re supposed to be this and that and are not. And then you see a woman succeed or a woman get more views compared to your YouTube, and you’re just like lashing out.

NINA G: Yeah.

VERONICA: So, how have you dealt with misogynistic attitudes coming at you? How are you diffusing, or are they? Or have you had an experience where they’re coming off as misogynistic, and then they’re like, “Oh, wait. I was an asshole. I’m sorry.”

NINA G: Oh. Yeah, that never happens.

VERONICA: That never happens? [laughs]

NINA G: No. I mean, at least not on YouTube comments.

VERONICA: Mmhmm.

NINA G: Never. And that’s partly why I don’t engage in it. Also, the thing is, is with my dyslexia—‘cause I also have that—sometimes the written word, I will mess up on. And so, unless it’s really well-thought out, I don’t try to engage that way ‘cause it’s not my best mode. So, that is partially why I don’t respond to these things. But you know, I’m trying to think of a situation where— I think I mean, there’s always situations where, you know, being a comic and being a stutterer, I have a lot of men in my life. And you know, I’m married, and my husband is OK with me having male friendships, and it’s a big part of my life. And I think for me, if somebody can treat me just as a friend and as a person, I don’t know what that’s called or where that goes. But I think it is being treated as an equal. And I have situations where I’ll be with Mean Dave, and a comic will say something on stuttering. And Dave sticks up for me or does the explaining instead of me having to do it. So, I just kinda sit back, and I just kinda watch. I’m all, OK, good. This is great.

VERONICA: Does Dave stutter?

NINA G: No. No, no, no. It’s just that he’s been around me enough, and he’s read enough of my stuff ‘cause he edits a lot of my stuff that he just knows stuff. And so, it’s when there is a genuine relationship with a person. And it’s kind of like being an ally. There are those points of being an ally where it’s like this is the right thing for me to do, and this is why I’m going to do it. And it’s kind of a robotic thing of like, no! This is how we do this! We don’t do it like this. But then when there is a genuine and authentic relationship with a person, it transforms into going past being an ally and just being a person that you would do this for that person because of that. So, I don’t know if that makes sense.

VERONICA: Just being human.

NINA G: Yeah.

VERONICA: Being human. Like, going past the ally, just being a fucking human being.

NINA G: Yeah!

VERONICA: Yeah.

NINA G: I don’t know what that’s called. [laughs]

VERONICA: Compassion?

NINA G: Compassion?

VERONICA: It’s called being a human!

NINA G: It’s called being human and treating people as an equal because you see them as an equal, not like, oh, this is a person who has a disability, or this is a person of color, and this is how I should act. And this is how I’m going to do this.

VERONICA: Right. Yeah. I do see those type of— That’s not being an ally, though.

NINA G: Right?

VERONICA: I don’t know what’s the word for that.

NINA G: Condescending. [laughs]

VERONICA: Condescending. It’s called Berkeley. [laughs]

NINA G: Yeah! There you go!

VERONICA: It’s called Berkeley. Oh, Berkeley. You have so much to learn. Ah. OK.

You did recently get married. You just celebrated—

NINA G: Two years ago.

VERONICA: Two years ago?

NINA G: Yeah. [laughs]

VERONICA: Two years ago. How did you guys meet?

NINA G: We met at the Brainwash.

VERONICA: [laughs]

NINA G: [laughs]

VERONICA: You should’ve just lied and said, “Starbucks.”

NINA G: Yeah, I know, right? [laughs]

VERONICA: So, for those who don’t know, the Brainwash was this open mic, years. It was the longest open mic in San Francisco. It’s been around since like the 90s, maybe like late 80s or something.

NINA G: Yeah. Tony Sparks was in it for a long, long time.

VERONICA: Yeah. It closed. It’s not there anymore because of tech and gentrification and coders that have no sense of humor.

BOTH: [chuckle]

NINA G: And comics who didn’t buy any food. [laughs]

VERONICA: Comics who didn’t buy any food. Oh yeah. So, yeah, it was like part of, if you were doing comedy in San Francisco, that was the place that you would hit up. That was part of your routine.

NINA G: Yeah!

VERONICA: And Ethan—

NINA G: Thursday nights.

VERONICA: Thursday nights.

NINA G: Mmhmm.

VERONICA: And Ethan, does he still do comedy?

NINA G: Yeah, on occasion, yeah. [chuckles] He’s always trying to quit but never does.

VERONICA: Yeah. Comedy: you’ll never quit comedy.

NINA G: Yeah, it’s hard.

VERONICA: It’ll always be with you.

NINA G: Mmhmm.

VERONICA: It takes a certain person, but it’ll never leave you.

NINA G: Yeah. And he writes constantly. He’s constantly thinking of things and reading and all of that.

VERONICA: Yeah. So, who asked out who first? Was it you or him?

NINA G: [chuckles] So, OK. So, here’s the whole thing. There was a brand new comic up at the Brainwash, and the comic was so excited. He did really well, and I think he was kind of bugging Tony. And so, I was playing pinball during all of this.

VERONICA: Oh, and you are a pinball wizard, yeah.

NINA G: Yes, I am, yes.

VERONICA: We’ll talk about that later. [chuckles]

NINA G: Yes, exactly. And so, Tony walked by this comic who seemed more experienced and told the new comic like, “Here. Talk to this guy,” so that Tony could go back eating his hamburger or whatever. And so, I started to hear them talk. And I’m sure you have this experience too, but when I first started, more experienced comics wouldn’t give me the time of day.

VERONICA: Mmhmm.

NINA G: Like they would never, they could barely even look at me, much less sit there and talk to me. And this experienced comic talked to this new comic. And I’m playing pinball, and I’m eavesdropping on the whole thing. And then the new comic went away, and I joined the conversation at that point. And when the new comic went away, I asked the more experienced comic if he was ever a Special Ed teacher or something like that ‘cause I could kinda sniff it out. And he’s like, “No, but I am a teacher, and I did work with adults who have disabilities when I was in Los Angeles.” And so, you know, it’s like gaydar: you kinda know like oh, this person’s gonna be OK.

VERONICA: [chuckles]

NINA G: And so, that’s how we met. And then we started doing some open mics together with some other folks, and then a comic said something that he thought I was more upset about than I was. And so, to console me, he asked me out to lunch, and then we went from there.

VERONICA: Aw.

NINA G: [laughs]

VERONICA: [laughs] Oh my god. That’s so great.

NINA G: Yeah. [laughs]

VERONICA: When you first got married, you didn’t advertise it.

NINA G: Well, I didn’t say that I was engaged. I didn’t say anything.

VERONICA: Yeah, no! Here’s the thing. Here’s the thing that happened, people who are listening to this.

NINA G: It’s so silly.

VERONICA: It was the night Trump got elected, and then you just posted your wedding picture.

NINA G: Yeah.

VERONICA: And I was like, “The only good thing of the night.” [laughs]

NINA G: Yeah, a lot of people told me that. [laughs]

VERONICA: And another thing was, OK, I do have girls, women who go ape shit when they get engaged. It’s just like picture upon picture, and then they post a picture of their husband. He’s just like so sad. And you’re like the only one who’s excited about this marriage.

BOTH: [laugh]

VERONICA: And you didn’t wear white. It was a red dress.

NINA G: Yeah! Yeah, yeah, yeah.

VERONICA: Like a red dress and your bouquet, and you’re sitting by the fireplace at the, what’s the inn?

NINA G: At the Madonna Inn.

VERONICA: Is that the haunted one?

NINA G: I don’t know if it’s haunted, but it’s really tacky.

VERONICA: It must be haunted. [laughs]

NINA G: Yeah, it could be.

VERONICA: Like Shining? Does it have that Shining feel hotel?

NINA G: No, I don’t think so. Like there’s cave rooms, and you take a shower, and it’s a waterfall cave.

VERONICA: [laughs] Got married there?

NINA G: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. [laughs through the whole next thing Veronica says]

VERONICA: Oh, yes! So, it was this one picture, and I was like, I posted. [laughing] I was like, “Thank you. Thank you for not being the woman who posts every second about your dumb wedding.”

BOTH: [continue laughing]

NINA G: Well, and then I posted my bridesmaids, and one of my bridesmaids was Dave.

VERONICA: [laughs]

NINA G: And people like, “Did you marry Mean Dave?”

VERONICA: [laughs even harder] Did you and Dave get married?

NINA G: Yeah. People were so confused, and finally, I was like, “No, this is me and my husband.” And then I was like, “And I met him on a Thursday night at the Brainwash.” And then people were like, “You just met him on Thursday night?”

VERONICA: [laughs] When it’s right, it’s right.

NINA G: Oh my god. People were so confused.

VERONICA: Mmhmm.

NINA G: And to add, they were all Trumped, Trump-trauma-ed.

VERONICA: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. That’s a thing. I’m not too surprised that he did get elected. And I’m probably gonna lose friends over this, but I didn’t vote for Hillary.

NINA G: Mmhmm.

VERONICA: If people defriend me over that, I understand. Do what you need to do. And I voted for Jill Stein, and my reasoning was Democrats don’t know how to win elections.

NINA G: Mmhmm. [laughs] Apparently! [laughs]

VERONICA: No, they never did! They never did. Pelosi’s very Highlander with her power, and it pisses me off. We have these young women, Muslim Congresswoman, the girl from New York, spitfire fiery Latina asking the tough questions, which is great. And this Pelosi woman—God love her—but it’s like you’re doing the same bullshit woman thing where once a woman gets in power, all the other women like, “Mm, no.”

NINA G: Yeah.

VERONICA: “Mm. Mm.” I’m like, you know, be a man and mentor these women!

NINA G: Yeah! Old Boy Network.

VERONICA: Yeah!

NINA G: Mmhmm.

VERONICA: Mentor these women to take your place! Mentor. That’s what the Old Boys Network does. They do.

NINA G: Yeah, yeah. You’re right.

VERONICA: And I’ve statused this before where the Republicans are like the Board, and even within the Republican party, they know Trump’s insane. But they will stand by him like the mother who knows who her husband is abusing their kids. Just stand by them like Susan Collins defended Brett Kavanaugh.

NINA G: Yeah.

VERONICA: And like no one’s business.

NINA G: Although her face sometimes was saying something else.

BOTH: [laugh]

VERONICA: And it’s like Democrats don’t know how to win elections. They don’t know…. It’s something is going on where they don’t, they really don’t support green alternative energies. They will never support free healthcare really, like what Europe does. They will never do that.

NINA G: Yeah.

VERONICA: And the way they totally threw Bernie Sanders over the bus, ‘cause he had a momentum going.

NINA G: Yeah, totally.

VERONICA: The whole DNC thing?

NINA G: I remember when it came out.

VERONICA: That totally just lost, that was my deal breaker from the Democratic party.

NINA G: Yeah.

VERONICA: And even with these prime, the mid-term elections, I did combination vote Democrat and Green Party. I did Green Party for the local and Democrat for my Senator and Governor and everything, like a mixed bag. But I’m going, I’m converting to Green Party. They’re the first party that they’re the ones that are developing the package for national healthcare, and the Democrats are just borrowing from them.

NINA G: Oh, OK.

VERONICA: So, I don’t know. And so, I see people, and I’ve had these conversations with my brother over like, ‘cause we talked about the protests that are going on in France, the yellow vests. And Europe is at a place where free healthcare, free education, and they’re used to that lifestyle. So, if they go, if laws are being passed like, OK, you pay like $100, 100 Euro, they’re like, “Fuck that!”

NINA G: [laughs]

VERONICA: “Fuck. That.”

NINA G: That’s so not us! [laughs]

VERONICA: No! But like in the US, it’s so acceptable.

NINA G: Yeah!

VERONICA: It’s so acceptable to be a million dollars in student debt. It’s so acceptable to like—we’re in the Bay Area—that a house costs, my piece of shit house that I grew up in, it’s like $945,000. Like 900 square feet.

NINA G: Yeah. Wow!

VERONICA: Yeah.

NINA G: Oh my god. Oh my god! It’s so depressing. I’ll never own anything in the Bay Area! [laughs]

VERONICA: I know. That’s why I moved to Portland.

NINA G: Yeah.

VERONICA: So, I don’t know. As a person who stutters in this political climate that we’re in, and you look at trolls, it’s like, don’t you have anything else better to do?

NINA G: Yeah!

VERONICA: Like, I’m on the MAX. I’m sitting on the MAX, and everyone’s on their cellphones—

NINA G: What’s a MAX? Is that the transit?

VERONICA: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

NINA G: OK. [laughs]

VERONICA: It’s the transit. It’s the transit in Portland. And everyone’s on the MAX. Everyone’s on their cellphones. They’re not talking to anyone, and I see this guy. He looks nice, nerdy. I’m like, I bet he’s trolling this shit out of some girl, just like the meanest shit that he could come out.

NINA G: Mmhmm.

VERONICA: ‘Cause no one knows how to process raw pain and anger.

NINA G: And so, that’s what you think the core of a lot of things going on right now is that?

VERONICA: Mmhmm. Yeah.

NINA G: Well, then, OK. So then, the question is, how do you do that?

VERONICA: [deep sigh] I’ve been focusing on myself and focusing on just, yeah, focusing on myself: what do I need to do? How can I, personally, myself, not be homeless? ‘Cause I have gone through personal financial crisis. That’s one of the reasons why I haven’t been doing comedy a lot, just getting my personal finances together. I’m still recovering from that.

NINA G: Mmhmm.

VERONICA: It took me— And I don’t have any student debt anymore.

NINA G: Wow!

VERONICA: But that took like 10 years after graduating high school.

NINA G: Yeah, I’m kind of hoping that I just die with it because it dies with me.

VERONICA: Yeah.

NINA G: So, I’m just holding onto it, paying $700 a month to do that.

VERONICA: Yeah. I had in like 2012, 2012, I had a $3,000 balance on my student loan.

NINA G: Oh, wow!

VERONICA: And I got a job. I’m like, fuck it. I’m just gonna knock this shit out. I was paying $1,000 a month to knock it out.

NINA G: That’s amazing.

VERONICA: And I paid it. Yeah, my balance was like $200, but I didn’t have that debt on me. My credit card debt is like $2,400.

NINA G: Mmhmm. Oh, that’s good.

VERONICA: It’s not bad. I don’t like credit card debt, but the monthly balance, I don’t do the minimum. I do like $500 a month to pay the principle and the interest.

NINA G: Oh, good for you. Yeah.

VERONICA: So, stutterers are just like, it’s like, not to put you stutterers in this little itty-bitty category, but we all have our fucking struggles.

NINA G: Mmhmm!

VERONICA: Like relationships. You’re married. You’re a married woman. You just happen to stutter.

NINA G: Yes.

VERONICA: But you’re a wife, and you have stuff going on.

NINA G: And I think that is where people kind of like, and there’s where— OK, so, I think this is it, is that there’s always this controversy of are you a person who stutters, or are you a stutterer? And the—

VERONICA: Mm!

NINA G: Yeah.

VERONICA: OK. Yes.

NINA G: And so, is it part of you, or is it you? And what is that?

VERONICA: You talk about this in your act where people think this is a caricature.

NINA G: Yes.

VERONICA: A little character that you do.

NINA G: For the comedic effect, yes.

VERONICA: Yeah. Yeah, for comedic effect, right? [laughs]

NINA G: And that’s the other half of my YouTube trolls are, [rage voice] “She’s faking it! I can tell! I know! I have a cousin who”—

VERONICA: I’m a cousin.

NINA G: [laughs] And so, people kind of attach that is your primary identity when it’s all these other things too. And I think that’s where, when you try to get out of, I don’t know if it’s like a ghetto or if it’s like a box, they get a little uncomfortable with that sometimes.

VERONICA: It is uncomfortable. It is uncomfortable getting to know someone. Comedy could only go so far ‘cause people only see on the stage for 15 minutes and like, “Oh, I know you.” I’m like, “You know shit!”

NINA G: Mmhmm!

VERONICA: You don’t know that I’ve actually cried before I got onstage, and then the moment I got onstage, I’m like, it’s comedy time!

NINA G: Yeah.

VERONICA: And I get offstage and then continue crying.

NINA G: Yeah.

VERONICA: Like, you don’t, people just don’t know. And I think it’s just like…it’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of work to be human.

NINA G: Yeah! And do you feel that comedy doesn’t always allow that? Or the comedy that is right now? ‘Cause as I ask that, I’m thinking about the, what’s her name, Hannah Gadsby Netflix thing.

VERONICA: Right. Right!

NINA G: With comics, especially male comics, lost their shit about that. [chuckles]

VERONICA: They did lose their shit. They did. And I didn’t, I watched everything except the last 10 minutes. I still haven’t finished it, but I saw, I don’t know if I saw what I needed to see. But I was in the middle of statusing, and then I took it out. And then I was like, I’m just gonna sit with my uncomfortableness.

NINA G: Yeah!

VERONICA: And what was it? What was it about? And then I posted on someone else’s feed, someone else’s page, about it, and I was like, “I’m just”— So, after I processed— Sometimes it’s not good to post exactly what I’m feeling.

NINA G: Yeah, exactly.

VERONICA: Which I’ve made mistakes on doing that.

NINA G: Yeah, we all have.

VERONICA: So, yeah. So, I processed it and then went back and posted. And what I said was, “I think her style,” I’m like, “I’m really surprised on the reaction people are having on her special.” Some say it wasn’t a special. Some say it was groundbreaking or what not. But I think what I have to say it’s like, she’s doing what comedy is supposed to do: challenge the paradigm.

NINA G: Yeah!

VERONICA: And the fact that she challenged the paradigm, and then comedians are getting triggered means that she did her job.

NINA G: Exactly!

VERONICA: Whether it was funny or not funny, what about the old comics that were coming up in the 90s? And people have opinions about that, and people had opinions on Richard Pryor when he came on the scene. ‘Cause before Richard Pryor, it was like ugghhh and one-liners and suits.

NINA G: Yeah, Henny Youngman kinda stuff.

VERONICA: Blah! [laughs]

NINA G: Yeah. Take my wife, please.

VERONICA: Yeah, yeah. Like ah!!! My arms are tired from flying.

BOTH: [laugh]

VERONICA: So, I caution on comedians trying to put comedy in a category when you’re not supposed to put it in a category.

NINA G: Yeah.

VERONICA: It’s like…I’m doing recovery comedy, which is, and I work with Curtis, and I’ve worked with Mark. They’re both my mentors in this field. And tonight we’re doing recovery comedy showcase, and it’s basically a 12-step share but with punchlines.

NINA G: Mmhmm! Yeah.

VERONICA: Share-omedy or something like that.

NINA G: [chuckles]

VERONICA: Share-omedy or something like that. So, it’s like yeah, it’s my experience, strength, and hope with punchlines. I’ve done this comedy in my respective 12-step fellowship, and there’s a teen fellowship that goes with it. And my teen sponsorship was taken away because I did a comedy set that talked about cutting.

NINA G: Oh.

VERONICA: And I’m not a cutter myself. I’ve definitely done self-harm in other ways. But self-harm is self-harm, whether I’m doing it with a razor blade, or I’m calling myself a piece of shit, you know, that negative self-talk, that codependence engage in. I’ve definitely done the emotional cutting, which you can’t see my scars.

NINA G: Yeah.

VERONICA: But they’re inside. They’re invisible. You can’t see them. So, I did a joke about cutting that some people got the joke, but some people felt it was necessary to remove me as a mentor like I was a danger to the teens.

NINA G: Wow.

VERONICA: And that was the narrative that was presented. I respectfully disagreed, and it took eight months and 197 emails to get it back.

NINA G: Oh my god.

VERONICA: So! But in this, in this, the culture of the fellowship that I’m in, it’s hard to laugh. It’s hard to—

NINA G: Specifically like the fellowship being recovery in general, or the specific area that you’re in?

VERONICA: Mm. I wanna say more that this side of recovery: being affected. Being affected on the friends and family side of alcoholism and addiction. As a friend and family, it takes a while to find the funny, and everyone has a path. I was, in my moment in time, I was able to find the funny in a dark place. My new, it wasn’t like— When I wrote it, it was funny, and I was really excited to show it. And the dynamic: I wasn’t completely wrong for telling the joke, but I wasn’t completely right either, you know? They talk about like know your audience.

NINA G: Yeah.

VERONICA: Which the audience at the time, and first of all, the environment was yes, they were mostly teenagers. It’s like a 12+ crowd. How I process my recovery, it’s not gonna be the same as a 13-year-old or 14-year-old girl or boy. Also, the majority of the audience, they don’t go to comedy clubs.

NINA G: Right.

VERONICA: They’ve never been to open mic. I grew up, like writing cutting jokes is a Tuesday for me.

NINA G: Mmhmm.

VERONICA: And this fellowship, they’re not exposed to comedy. You’ll never—not never, but—seeing a comedy show, when I go to my recovery events and the programming content that’s out there and the people that put on events, you will hardly ever see. It wasn’t till I started getting to service, I’m like, “Let’s have a comedy show.” And I’ll still get feedback on it. But you see that on the recovery alcoholic and addict side: if you go to their recovery events, talent show, comedy show.

NINA G: Yeah.

VERONICA: This was a talent show.

NINA G: Oh!

VERONICA: This was a talent show, yes, and everyone has five minutes. I respected the five minutes. But the majority of the audience is like they’re broken. So, if I’m walking in there and doing jokes on cutting—this has been like two years—I could see that oh, could be too much. And in my normal comedy, the normal comedy scene, if someone’s offended, they could step out.

NINA G: Yeah.

VERONICA: They could walk out. In this particular scene, because of the safety policy, people couldn’t leave. So, it was like a shitty environment to even have a comedy show if you’ve never even seen comedy. And I come from a very, as alcoholic as it was, there was always music. There was always art. My parents are artists. My dad’s a musician; my mom’s like she was a dancer in college. So, and then growing up, there was always art surrounding. Not like I was still affected. And I come to find and understand, and as I was getting reinstated, making amends to the conference, and then having some, I had some sit-down conversations with the teenagers there. Some of them come from alcoholic households where any type of artistic expression is forbidden.

NINA G: Mm!

VERONICA: Like, it would mean death if you poked fun at mom, or you poked fun at dad. And I didn’t have that realization.

NINA G: Yeah! So, was that kind of like it was a privilege that you weren’t considering in the environment and then the impact that it would have on the kids?

VERONICA: Some of them was like, “You know, I didn’t think it was funny, but she gets it. She gets it.” And some of the adults that I felt like psychologically, it’s too much to take in that kids are doing this to themselves.

NINA G: Right!

VERONICA: And I sponsor like an aunt, which I don’t give a fuck about your mom. I hate her too. [chuckles]

NINA G: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

VERONICA: From a loving way. But you know, I do see behaviors from mentors where it’s very like you’re sponsoring like a mom.

NINA G: Yeah.

VERONICA: Knock it off.

NINA G: Yeah.

VERONICA: They don’t need a mom. They just need someone to listen to and not be swept up. I saw a lot of being swept up by emotions of teenagers. And not to say it’s the absolute truth, but it’s like whenever I’m sponsoring, it’s like, “Let’s put the focus back on you. And you have all these emotions like, ‘I want her punished. She needs to go away’.” I’m like, “I validate your emotions, but we don’t punish people on how we are processing our recovery. We don’t punish. Let’s put the focus back on you. It’s not like she said your name.” ‘Cause it’s fucked up if I’m making fun of Suzie’s—I’m just using a name—Suzie’s cutting. That’s fucked up. But if I’m making fun of cutting as in, “Oh, cutting’s so important. It’s so important.” [laughs]

NINA G: Yeah!

VERONICA: And I got friends on my Facebook feed that, they’re Instagramming their self-harm. How do you even process that?

NINA G: Well, and part of comedy is taking the piss out of it so that you can put it out there and to talk about it. And it sounds like that may’ve been some of your intention of like, yeah! This thing’s going on?

VERONICA: Yeah, that was. Then it just came out totally, horribly wrong. [laughs]

NINA G: Yeah! Which it oftentimes does in comedy! [laughs]

VERONICA: Yes! Yes, it does. But my fellows, they’ve never seen comedy. Or they went to the improv once like nine years ago. [laughs]

NINA G: Yeah. Oh, I know comedy.

VERONICA: Yeah. My little skits.

BOTH: [laugh]

VERONICA: Oh my god! My son does skits! Like, oh god.

NINA G: [laughs]

VERONICA: Ugh. It’s been a learning experience.

NINA G: You know, and so much of comedy is talking about the most shameful parts of yourself and your family and your communities and all of that. And I think that is really hard. I have a joke about my grandmother who was addicted to prescription drugs. And seriously, ‘cause I have my doctorate, and when I finished my doctorate, I called her up. And I like, “Hey, Grandma. I have my doctorate.” And first thing—this is not a joke—first thing she asked is if I could prescribe.

VERONICA: Mmhmm. [laughs]

NINA G: That was the first thing.

VERONICA: Not, “Hey, congratulations!”

NINA G: Not, “Wow. You’re the first one in the family to graduate college, and now you have your doctorate.”

VERONICA: “Can you do drugs?”

NINA G: Yeah! “Can you give me some Valium,” was basically it. And how do you talk about? What I love about comedy is that I’m able to talk about that and make a joke about it, and I’m able to talk about that in various audiences. And I figured out eventually what those audiences were and how to talk about that. But you also don’t get to that point unless you can try it out. And I think a lot of times, famous comics are at their open mics, and they say things that they wouldn’t say on a special but then they get called out for when you’re trying to work that out. It sounded like you were trying to work out that joke.

VERONICA: Mmhmm.

NINA G: And yeah. And this is why comedy is so much trickier. Because if you did a poem about it, they, “Oh, good for her.” [applauds]

VERONICA: Yeah! [laughs]

NINA G: [laughs]

VERONICA: Oh, fuck, yeah. Reading a poem about cutting. It’s like, “Oh, she’s so brave.”

BOTH: [laugh]

VERONICA: Some slam poetry! [laughs]

NINA G: “Oh, that was powerful.” Oh god.

VERONICA: Yeah, it’s different. It’s a different genre, and I think in my experience, what happened with me, codependency, it’s like we’re not nice people. And if I’m doing a generalization, so be it. Codependency is nothing about being nice. There’s nothing nice about codependency. It’s all about control. It is all about control with codependency, and it’s like with comedy, if I’m a codependent, and someone’s onstage speaking on stuff that she shouldn’t be speaking about because she’s a woman or what not, whatever biases is going on, and I’m a codependent, it’s like how fucking dare you. And I can’t control, you can’t control comedy. And as a raging codependent looking at comedy in my recovery, comedy in my recovery, it’s like not my ‘Merica.

BOTH: [laugh]

VERONICA: ‘Cause I can’t control. Like I think the most I could do is probably write a letter that I was offended to the area chairman, just big old long email. [laughs]

NINA G: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. [laughs]

VERONICA: And it needs to be talked about.

NINA G: Yeah.

VERONICA: You can’t control— With trolling, it’s just about control, just desperate, lonely guys just trying to just—

NINA G: Control something?

VERONICA: Control something or keep the patriarchy alive.

NINA G: Yeah!

VERONICA: Like, no. No. It’s like 3:03. We’re towards the end of our interview. Highlights of 2018, and what do you look forward to in 2019?

NINA G: Let’s see. So, of course the book. The book is coming out August 6, 2019. It’s on pre-order now.

VERONICA: Nice.

NINA G: Yeah. And just the whole process of getting a publisher and looking at— ‘Cause I’m going with a hybrid publisher, which means that it’s an independent publisher. I’m putting my own money behind it. That’s why I’m in desperate need of gigs right now ‘cause I am financing this partly myself. And so, just raising the money from speaking engagements to put that forth. And I went with a hybrid because I didn’t want a publisher to say, “No, we really need for you to be an inspiration at this point and not say the word ‘fuck’.”

VERONICA: [laughs]

NINA G: That is why—

VERONICA: Fuck? There’s nothing inspirational about that!

NINA G: Exactly. And that’s why I’m going with She Writes Press because I—

VERONICA: They don’t give a fuck? [chuckles]

NINA G: Yeah. They don’t give a fuck. And they are supportive of the voice that the person brings.

VERONICA: Good!

NINA G: Yeah. And also, I might actually make some money off of it, where if I went with a traditional publisher—

VERONICA: Penguin. [laughs]

NINA G: Yeah, I’d get $1 a book.

VERONICA: Penguin! [laughs]

NINA G: Yeah, yeah. Penguin I’d get 50 cents a book.

VERONICA: [laughs]

NINA G: So, finishing that up and moving ahead and trying to let people know about it is 2019.

VERONICA: Mmhmm. So, pre-order on Amazon. They can just search.

NINA G: Mmhmm. And Barnes & Noble, but I always encourage people to pre-order it at their bookstores locally so that the independent people get the business. But if you have a Amazon card laying around that someone gave you—

VERONICA: [laughs] So be it.

NINA G: There you go. [chuckles]

VERONICA: Awesome. All right. So, thank you, everyone for listening. My guest for Episode 1, the kickoff episode, Nina. Nina G. Where can people find you?

NINA G: They can find me at NinaGComedian.com and StuttererInterrupted.com.

VERONICA: And if they need to book you, they could go there?

NINA G: Yes.

VERONICA: Cool.

NINA G: Either one of those, you’ll get to me.

VERONICA: Cool. And my name is Veronica Porras. You could find me on VeeComedy.com. Thanks, everyone!

NINA G: Thanks! Thanks, Veronica.

VERONICA: Yay. Happy New Year.

NINA G: Happy New Year.

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Nina G.

Comedian - Disability Advocate

Nina G. is a comedian, professional speaker, storyteller, writer and educator. She brings her humor to help people confront and understand Disability culture, access, and empowerment.