Each week we shed our Saltie light on women bringing the awesome to their relative and varied fields. This week we give the mic to a super funny lady who brings her hilarious brand of comedy and keen wit to NYC stages and the wide world of twitterverse to make us laugh on a daily basis. A lawyer by day, a standup comedian by night and a mother 24/7, Julie Kottakis is one kickass MILLOLW (Mom I’d Like to Laugh Out Loud With).
SALTED SPOTLIGHT: Julie Kottakis
So, what do you do for a living? (aka your day job)
I’m an attorney. I used to be a family law attorney, but now work as a “freelance attorney.” I contract with firms.
When did you start on your path in comedy?
I started in September 2009, which was during my third year of law school. Both law and comedy were off and on for a couple of years after I had my daughter in the summer of 2010. It was a fun challenge going to law school and doing comedy pregnant. I wouldn’t do law school pregnant again, but I would definitely do comedy pregnant again.
What’s been your most challenging moment? Your most rewarding?
I’ll start with most rewarding. I wrote a solo show, which is a little over an hour of stories i wrote about groeing up, becoming a mom and even becoming my own mom. It’s the most honest, vulnerable comedic piece I’ve done. It’s in the Fringe Festival this summer and I’m really excited to perform it.
My most challenging moment was figuring out how to get back into standup as a new mom. It was hard accepting that I had to step away from comedy while my peers were continuing to pursue it. However, it’s just as challenging to step away from time with your child to pursue what most consider a “hobby” rather than a career or tangible future goal.
What does work/life balance mean to you?
As a mom, I think I’ve really learned what it means to multitask and manage time. I focus on making the most of my and my family’s time. It’s extremely important to me that we spend enough time together while still working hard to make money and pursue my comedic endeavors. There are times when you have to say no and be smart about what you say yes to. I think people assume that as a single mom, I’m missing out because I can’t go out all the time to do standup or I can’t make a ton of money because I can’t work the extra hours. Although true, the reality is I feel as though I make better decisions and as a result make everything I do and my time worthwhile because I do have to make choices. I never waste my time.
How do you make it happen? As in, what’s your key to getting things done?
I definitely sleep less than I used to. Ha! Ultimately, the less time I have on my hands, the more driven I am to get it done. I work a day job because I have to, but I’ve chosen one that is flexible, not demanding and pays well enough. When I’m with my daughter, it’s all about her and when she’s sleeping, that’s when I really get things done. That may mean waking up extra early or going to bed extra late. When I have shows, I swap babysitting with other moms, single moms and comedian single moms. The key to getting things done is giving help and learning how to accept it. I have wonderful, supportive friends in my life and that makes all the difference.
What are two essential tips you would give to a budding comedian? Anything different to a budding comedienne?
BE YOU. It’s so important to just do what you think is funny. When you’re vulnerable and truly being yourself, the funniness will come and it’s really quite magical. Also, write, write, write and write until you don’t think anymore. The most brilliant jokes are the ones you don’t sit down for an hour and force out of you. The great ones come from the recesses of your brain and you’ll only find those if you don’t block them with all that thinking we naturally do. Free writing is invaluable. It taps into the uniqueness of you, which is what we want to hear about. Always be polite and professional. It goes such a long way.
As for advice to my female peers, I think there are definite obstacles and issues we have to deal with, but my advice would be the same to anyone–to work as hard as you can at your craft. I think it’s counterproductive to focus on your failures or rejections because it’s a male-dominated and sexist field. However true that is, the best we can do is work our asses off and keep paving the way until a guy says, “you’re funny” instead of “you’re funny for a girl.”
Speaking of women in comedy, who do you think is “doing it right” in your eyes today?
It sounds cliche, but any woman actively in comedy. What I love is seeing women doing their way, whatever that may be. Comedic diversity in women today is astounding. They’re smart, creative and talk on a wide array of topics. The fact that comedy has been or can be more challenging for women makes us push the envelope in ways that others don’t have to and I love that.
What’s your take on “sneaky feminism” in comedy?
My take on feminism, whether sneaky or not is that we, women are doing what we want and are freely expressing our opinions, however conservative or liberal they may be. Sex and the City was a great show because it highlighted four different types of women and celebrated their differences. Maybe the average woman, including myself, couldn’t identify with their economic status, clothing, looks, etc., but we could identify with their view points on dating. Shows focused on single women is tireless because we’re teaching ourselves that it’s ok to not fit in a mold and how attractive that is.
Favorite female funny lady in history? And/or who would play you in your life’s movie?
Carole Burnett. Hands down. I loved and still love her show. It was some of the best sketch comedy. I choose Tina Fey as Liz Lemon to play me if that makes any sense.
Mother’s Day is coming up, anything special you’d like to do to celebrate?
I just want to spend it with my family. Nothing fancy.
Beyonce: Supreme ruler of the world or supreme ruler of the universe?
I’d say world…
If anyone follows your twitter or facebook they’d know you’ve been around the online dating scene (and live to tell the hilarious tales). So, Tinder or OkCupid?
Ugh. I’m OkCupid. I haven’t gone on one date. I am not a fan of online dating. At least you get some idea of someone’s personality on OkCupid. I guess that’s a good thing.
We’d love to see more of your comedy! Where can we come see you next?
May 9– Broadway Comedy Club at 7
May 11–Comedy Dungeon
May 13–Gotham at 7pm and then I’ll be on the road to PA
May 16, May 17–Creek and the cave at 12am,
May 21st–school night at UCB at 11pm,
May 28-hourglass tavern (awesome variety show) 11pm,
May 29–speakeasy show in BK (burlesque).
Julie Kottakis is a single mom, lawyer, writer, and comedian. As one of New York’s comics on the rise, Julie’s unique views on dating, parenting and other mundane topics, make her act memorable and also sort of disturbing. She won New York City’s Funniest Lawyer of 2010 and NYC’s Most Incredible Comedian 2012 at Broadway Comedy Club. Julie performs at various comedy venues throughout the New York City area. She performed in the Ladies of Laughter Festival 2012 and the Laughing Skull Comedy Festival 2013. She will be performing her solo show, “Glass Half Full of Tears,” atThe Fringe Festival 2014. In addition to standup, Julie is the creator of the podcast, The Julie Is Alone Show, and the parenting website, www.theweirdmom.com. Despite her busy schedule, Julie is always available to share her “Mommy” secrets for new parents. For example: How to figure out how your kid is without asking her again and other such concerns.
Her other website: www.julieisalone.com