Emily Heller Talks Feminists and Being Funny

With a new album in the works and a Portland show approaching, the California comic holds forth on how comedy is like cooking, gorillas, and why her jokes aren’t just for “intersectional feminist librarians.”

By Katelyn Best November 11, 2015

Emilyhellerkillrockstars v0u8u1

Emily Heller's Good For Her.

LA-based smart aleck Emily Heller is on the up and up. With an album coming out this Friday on Kill Rock Stars, she's got several shows in the works, among them a Live Wire appearance at the Aladdin on November 21. We talked to her about recording on an indie label, finding a non-feminist audience, and whether she can predict the future.

How would you describe your comedy?
It depends who I'm talking to. If it's my grandpa, I just say I tell stories in a funny way. I say this very loudly and I reassure him that yes, I am making a living and no, I'm not thinking about law school anytime soon. If it's anyone else, I probably just... wouldn't. Describing comedy is like describing cooking - maybe don't have the cook do it. There are people who are good at describing food, and people who are good at making it, and they're not the same people usually.

Who are your comedic influences? 
I don't think I sound much like any of the comedians who have inspired me the most. They are Weird Al, Maria Bamford, Tina Fey, my dad, The Lonely Island, Ron Funches, John Mulaney, and Google image searches of gorillas eating carrots.

You're a self-proclaimed feminist, but your album covers a lot of territory. Who do you think would enjoy your album the most?
I think I made an album that will be enjoyed just as much by the random dude who stumbles upon it as it is by the intersectional feminist librarians who already follow me on Instagram. It's a lot of silly jokes. It's a lot of smart jokes. I try not to alienate anyone while still saying something. If you've seen every clip of me online, there will still be jokes you haven't heard, and if you've never heard a word I've ever said, it's all my best, most favorite jokes.

Did you always know you wanted to be a comedian?
Nope! I used to want to be a puppy. Wishing on birthday candles does not work.

Was your childhood really as weird and lonely as you make it sound? 
You make it sound so sad! I was definitely kind of a weird, loner kid for a while, but I don't think I realized it until much later. A lot of my material about childhood has the benefit of hindsight, so I'm a bit rougher on my younger self now because I have the advantage of being a drop-dead gorgeous, adult comedian.

Where did the Suck My Dick, New Yorker Tumblr come from? How have you kept it going for almost five years? Has the New Yorker ever responded? 
My brother and I used to come up with these dirty captions for the New Yorker Caption Contest when we were at our grandma's house. It just made me laugh so much that eventually I decided to start the blog so we could do them long-distance. The secret to our longevity is we do it so sporadically. There was a period when we got a bit of buzz after some New Yorker cartoonists found it and tweeted about it, and we tried to post more around then, but things have slowed down as both me and my brother have gotten busier. From what I understand, we have their full support. Do not fact check that.

Do you consider yourself psychic, or do you just play one on the Internet
My mom thinks I'm psychic. Does that count? I don't believe in that stuff really. But I do love the idea that there could be someone out there who knows how to predict the future, and they just... use it to tell people they're going to get a raise? What a waste.

Besides Live Wire, are you going to be doing a show in Portland any time soon?
I'll be touring again in the spring of next year I think, and you'd have to try really hard to keep me from making a stop in Portland. It's one of my absolute favorite cities to perform in. 

For a reminder of why you might need to put Emily Heller on loop, check her out on Conan talking about cat sex tapes and dying alone.

Emily Heller's Good for Her comes out on Kill Rock Stars on November 13.

Filed under
Show Comments