How the LA Comedy Scene Helps 180’s Christina Semak Stay Creative
There’s an unglamorous side of advertising that you don’t see in the movies or hear about in award show coverage and that no one really talks about.
It’s the part where you put together tiny banner ads, or hear back from business affairs there’s no way you can possibly say the one interesting thing you’re trying to say. While you definitely get to work on fun campaigns, sometimes the rigmarole of the everyday can be a little discouraging and leave your thinking a little stale.
That’s why I do stand up on the side. The funny thing is, I would have never knew I wanted to do stand up had I not pursued a career as a copywriter. Back in ad school a professor suggested I give it a try, and once I did it felt like I had discovered this unknown world that I had always belonged to. Once I experienced the euphoric high of performing in front of people I knew this was something I loved and had to keep doing.
I started doing stand up in Richmond, Virginia, but doing it out here in L.A. is a whole other beast. Most people I meet are here for one thing and one thing only: making it as a comedian. I came here for advertising, so sometimes it is a little daunting to find myself in competition with people who perform three times a night, five nights a week.
But who cares. It’s exhilarating, and on top of that it actually helps me stay creative as an advertising creative.
It’s an outlet that gives me the freedom to stretch my ideas as far as I want, and say whatever I want. Writing and performing stand up gives my brain a mini vacation that prepares me to dive back into the real world, refreshed and ready to think of new, interesting ideas. And the key here is writing, since, well, I’m a copywriter.
The more and more I do comedy the better and better I can feel my writing get. Stand up looks like you’re just going out there and being funny off the cuff, but for me it’s 90 per cent planned out. I’ve written and re-written jokes based on responses I get from audiences until it’s a well-crafted work of writing. Nothing gives me more of a confidence boost than to hear a room full of strangers laugh at a joke I wrote myself. It’s all me.
I bring that confidence boost back into my advertising work, which helps me feel secure about trying something new no matter how big or small the project is. It’s nice to have an activity outside of work that I’m passionate about and that stops me from getting bogged down by the realities of advertising. It’s a challenge. But luckily, I’ve found my way of keeping work fun no matter what.
Christina Semak is a copywriter at 180 LA