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Meet Your Funny People: Pablo Picon

Winner, Story League Fall Championship

Listen to Pablo Picon’s winning story here:

You did a great deal of preparation for the Fall Championship. Please share that story.

I was really scared; I never thought I was going to win the qualifier for this final. It caught me completely by surprise. I had a lot of pressure, because my friends and colleagues found about it on #$@#%$ Facebook and they all decided to come and support me. I did not want to bomb in front of them, and I had a good chance of bombing, being inexperienced at this and with English being my second language.

So I started writing obsessively. And every week I would talk with my fantastic storytelling coach in NYC to put me on the right track. And I performed—I performed a lot! Twice in NYC, where I completely bombed at standup open mics, but I learned a lot… I was stronger after that. Then in Philly at First Person Arts, where I started to see some improvements. And finally two more times at open mics in DC, with really small, hard-nosed audiences, which is the best way to fine-tune your story.

You’ve been onstage at 3 different venues now with Story League. How has each one been different?

Bier Baron was my first time. I wanted to throw up and run away. Even after two shots of liquor, I was scared as hell. But when I went onstage the lights blinded me, and that was kind of relaxing. I started talking and the people started laughing. It felt amazing, I felt like an orchestra director. I loved it and I wanted more.

Second time was Busboys and Poets. My story was 7 minutes, and I discovered that there was a 5-minutes time limit when I arrived there that night. I just hid in the bathroom to focus and eliminate parts to make it shorter. The other performers that night were really funny. I never thought I would win, and I think it was only by a few votes.

Third time was Black Cat. I put into practice everything that I had learned in the previous ones, and with my coach: Practice, feel comfortable with the time, and go to a quiet space and listen to a song that you love before stage time. Even though the room and the crowd were so big, I felt much more comfortable than the previous times.

Before you started performing, you were what we would call a Story League Superfan. How did you discover us, and what appealed to you about SL?

At work, I started listening to storytelling. I wanted to learn more. I found you guys on the internet. I went to a show and I laughed a lot. I liked your spirit of looking for funny stories. I think the mix of stand-up and storytelling was my biggest driver.

You write speeches for a living. What does that have in common with storytelling?

It has a lot in common, and I would love to put stories in all the speeches and presentations that I write. But I always have to think about my client, the person that is going to read the speech, and some of them don’t feel comfortable with stories. In those cases I prefer not to use storytelling. My objective is always to make them look good, and I learned that for that to happen it has to feel natural. First I analyze them and try to improve on their natural talents. Then, with more experience, we include storytelling.

What are you going to do with the $500 prize money?

Nothing, I spent it all with my coach, Philly, New York and celebratory drinks… It was gone long ago.

Will you continue performing with SL? How about with other shows? What’s next for Storyteller Pablo Picon?

I told my girlfriend that I’m never, ever doing this again. Too much stress. She does not believe me… she is probably right (as always).

Meet Your Funny People: Martin Amini

Martin Amini

See Martin Amini doing some comedy in DC HERE

As a performer/producer, has putting on one hat taught you things about wearing the other hat? In other words, does producing make you a better performer, or vice versa?

Having experience both in performing and producing, one thing I’ve learned is to respect both fields equally. I think a lot of times it’s very easy to forget how hard it is for producers to promote and pack out a show. Similarly, as a producer, we often forget the obstacles performers go through to get good at their craft, and also to keep in mind that performers 99.9% of the time have ADHD, and will forget to email or message you back. So understanding both fields definitely help when it comes to communicating.

Tell us all about Silver City Productions and what it does.

So, Silver City Productions is a company I started back in 2012. Its main focus is film production and comedy shows. We’ve had a lot of success with music videos in the past few years, having our videos be featured on Noisey, RevoltTV, and Complex. The Silver City Comedy Show has also had a lot of success in the past few years bringing headliners to DC such as Jermaine Fowler (MTV), Felipe Esparza (Last Comic Standing winner), and James Davis (writer for The Late Late Show with James Corden).

How long have you been doing comedy, and what got you into it?

I’ve been performing comedy for a little over 3 years now. Prior to doing stand-up, I got to hang out at the great comedy clubs in LA because my cousin worked the circuit over there. I remember watching comics at the Laugh Factory, Comedy Store, and Hollywood Improv, and thinking this would be a dope job to have.

Who’s your comedy role model, if any?

Growing up, I watched Eddie Murphy and his Comedy Special “Delirious” regularly. It’s what set the bar for me on what was dope and funny.

What makes the DC comedy scene unique? 

I think the DC comedy scene is a great place to be right now. Between the talent and the great rooms, comedy fans are able to see a great show every night of the week for free. I think that’s very rare for a city that’s not known for entertainment the way LA and New York are. I’ve been fortunate enough to perform at many different comedy clubs across the country, and I love seeing the different vibes in each city. New York to me is the go-to place for great comedy. Every time I visit, I’m able to see some of the best comics in the world work out new material, which never gets old for me

Have you ever bombed and how did you deal with it?

Yeah, I’ve definitely bombed. It’s a very funny feeling because the thought of it instantly humbles you no matter how many big shows you do. I can get off a stage at a 500-seat theatre kill, and then get reminded about that time I bombed at a dive bar and say “Oh that’s right, I ain’t shit.”

What’s the grand plan for Martin Amini?

To continue to do more shows without bombing.

Visit for more about Martin and the things he does…

Meet Your Funny People: Paris Sashay

Comedian Paris Sashay

Watch Paris Sashay doing standup at the White Room DC HERE

How long have you been doing comedy, and what got you into it? Who’s your comedy role model, if any?

I started doing comedy nearly 3 years ago. I started doing stand-up once I dropped out of college and returned home. I was afraid to get on stage but my friends encouraged me to give it a try! My comedy role models would have to be Bernie Mac, Jim Carrey, Martin Lawrence and Sommore.

What makes the DC comedy scene unique? And Baltimore? And NYC? Could one place benefit from something another of the 3 places has? 

The DC comedy scene is unique to me because growing up I watched some of the greats come from this area and now I’m following their footsteps in the same area. Also, it’s proven to be one of the best places to make you strong in other cities. It’s just a blessing to perform in Baltimore and make it out the same way I came in unharmed and in one piece. The New York comedy scene is like no other scene; it’s the training gym to be a beast in comedy. From different open mics starting at 5:30 pm, to it being so many comics that you have to outwork yourself, the city that never sleeps will bring out your greatest potential.

Tell us about YuungFunny and your appearances in their shows.

YuungFunny is a group of young comedians all from the DC area following the same dream with all different creative styles. Being the first lady in YuungFunny, I am the head female of the group, so it is my job to bring sexiness, laughter, and a female perspective that all women can relate to. When we perform as a group, it is like no other show; it’s guaranteed humor from the start until the end! We are more than a comedy group, we are a family brought together by our God-given talent: COMEDY.

Paris Sashay

Paris judged Story League: Terrifying in October 2014. Photo by Ben Droz

This is your first time doing “comedic storytelling” — what have you noticed about the format, as you’ve worked on your story, versus putting together a comedy set.

The similar thing I have noticed between preparing my story and preparing a comedy set is the way is I am building the story lead-up. When writing my set I usually tell stories and prepare my jokes in a story form from a real-life experience I have faced.

Feel free to talk about being a Scorpio — Shrake is one too…

I am A Scorpio. Now, with that being said, I like to hear the assumptions. The biggest one being: SHE’S A FREAK! Well, what do you know? Because… SHE IS! OK, no, really: I stare at my breasts in the mirror while I brush my teeth because I’m amazed by the rhythm in how they bounce!

Have you ever bombed, and how did you deal with it?

Yes, I have bombed several times, and it’s good to bomb sometimes. Bombing is a learning experience to see what needs to be worked on and to keep you humble. After bombing previously I go home and write, write, and write.

Where do you see yourself in 5 minutes?

In 5 minutes I see myself getting back to preparing for the competition on the 18th. As some of my competitors are my comedy pals, I need to bring the fire—and I shall!

Meet Your Funny People: Rachel Hinton

Rachel Hinton

>> Hear Rachel’s story from our recent comedy competition at DC Improv Comedy Club

What got you started in comedy?

I took a Women’s Studies class in college that tackled how power dynamics play out in comedy.  Part of our final exam was writing and performing a 5-minute standup routine in front of the class. Everyone voted on their favorite, and I won. My professor pulled me aside and said I should consider going to an open mic night — but I was way too nervous. Six years later, I moved to Phoenix and didn’t know anybody, so I figured, “Why not give this a try now? If I bomb, at least none of my friends will see me.” I’ve been performing ever since. That was almost 3 years ago.

What is the most interesting observation you can make about DC’s standup scene?

Well, in the 5 months that I’ve been here, I can say it’s probably the most educated comedy scene in the country. The audiences are smart and up-to-date on current events and politics. You can reference Elizabeth Warren or John Boehner and not get blank stares. That’s surprising and rare. It’s also a very politically correct crowd, which can be a good or a bad thing. I appreciate that unoriginal, low-brow, mean-spirited shit typically doesn’t fly here. You can’t just be an asshole and pretend that it’s comedy.
That being said, there are times when I think folks take the political correctness a little too far. I did a set when I first moved here where I poked fun at a few lesbian stereotypes — after revealing that I, myself, was gay. It took a few seconds for the straight folks in the audience to loosen up and realize they could laugh too!

What’s your experience been as an out lesbian in the standup comedy scene?

Speaking mainly from my experiences in Arizona, comedy is still a rough place for women. I worked with a club owner over there who was just a creep. He would always make these really inappropriate remarks, try to hug me — and so many venues are run by guys like that. Which just sucks, frankly. Being a feminine gay lady adds an interesting dynamic to all of that — sometimes the creepery is worse (thanks, porn industry!) and sometimes I end up being treated like “one of the guys” much more than other female comics.
I will say, I think one of the best parts of doing comedy, generally, is that it forces you to interact with a bunch of folks that you might not ordinarily spend time with. I remember when I first started doing comedy in Arizona, so many people had these really homophobic sets — it was really cringe-worthy. Over the years, those guys got to know me and my partner and, when Arizona finally got marriage equality last year, it was those exact same comics who were the first to post incredibly supportive things on Facebook or text me and say congratulations. That meant a lot. 
I haven’t really experienced much of those dynamics at all in DC so far.  The comics I’ve worked with have been incredibly welcoming and respectful — it’s been great.

Why did you want to try out comedic storytelling?

When you do standup, you assume a persona. You tell jokes about being single even if you’re partnered. You talk about your cubicle at work even if you work from home. Standup is mostly bullshit. I love that storytelling is true. It’s easier to make up things that are funny than it is to take real things and find the humor in them. Storytelling requires stronger writing, in my opinion — and I’m excited to push myself to be a better writer.

What is something surprising you want our audience to know about you?

I’ve been on eBay twice.  Both times, I’ve impulsively bought vintage VW buses.