Comedian’s routine far from bland
Blanford hitting stride ahead of Summit City stop
When it comes to comedy, Katherine Blanford isn’t joking around.
With a degree in sport and entertainment management, Blanford had worked with the PGA and the Orlando Magic before getting a bigger offer, which she declined to pursue her passion.
“I had moved to Atlanta to take a job at a smaller venue, and I took a comedy class as a kind of bucket list thing, but then got hooked,” she said from her home in Atlanta in an interview with Whatzup. “Then I got a call for the Dallas Cowboys job, which was a dream job, and I turned it down, saying, ‘I want to be a comedian.’ ”
That commitment will be on display when she comes to town Aug. 28 for a show at Summit City Comedy Club.
A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Blanford’s stock has been on the rise. Along with a successful podcast, Cheaties, with Lace Larabee, she’s opened for David Spade, Jeff Foxworthy, and Ron White, and released her first album, Salt Daddy, on June 24.
The biggest shot in the arm for her career came Aug. 3 when she made her national television debut on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
“It was the greatest 24 hours of my life,” she said. “It was actually more than 24 hours, because the night before, I got to run my set at the Comedy Cellar, which is the most famous club in the world. I’m not really sure that it happened, it still kind of feels like a dream. Doing the Cellar the night before, and having my jokes hit, then doing them on Fallon, and hearing The Roots and Questlove and Jimmy Fallon behind me laughing, it was like, ‘There is no way this is really happening.’ ”
It definitely happened, but only thanks to some risk taking on her part.
After deciding to forego her career in sport and entertainment management, Blanford took a pretty unconventional job to make ends meet: She became a nanny.
“It was good day job, and I could take off at night and do comedy,” she said.
Blanford ended up working as a nanny for eight years, becoming a regular at the Laughing Skull Lounge and The Punchline comedy clubs in Atlanta to sharpen her skills and find her voice.
“There’s some people that are just so funny in their writing, and they don’t need to sell a character, like Demetri Martin,” she said. “Then there’s people just selling a vibe, like Sebastian Maniscalco: He’s such a character, and he tells these stories. It’s a spectrum of where you lie, and you just need to figure out who you are and where your voice is. It’s really about, and this is going to sound cheesy, being as real as you are and not trying to be someone else or some kind of a character, because that’s what the audience will pick up on.”
And when she’s being herself, nervousness about getting out in front of people isn’t on her radar.
“It’s about getting attention,” she said of what it takes to be a standup comedian. “If you need attention enough, you’ll get into it. Sure, there’s courage in there, but really it’s just like, ‘Oh, these people have to be quiet and listen to me? Excellent, I’ll do standup comedy.’ ”
And if those in the crowd don’t want to be quiet?
“I love a little bit of banter,” she said. “It’s a preference, some comics don’t. I welcome it. I love a rowdy crowd.”
Her debut album features bits on her parents being cousins, her affinity for pretending to be a horse when she was a child, and going on a boat excursion with a guy whose yacht was called “Salt Daddy,” putting the girls at ease because “he had children.”
Some of that material made it into her Tonight Show set, but as it is with any comedian, those jokes can’t stick around. Once they’re put out into the world, new material must be developed to give audiences a reason to come back.
“It’s a Catch-22: I’ve been writing new material, but I’ve gotten all these opportunities (with the older material),” she said. “I did a Don’t Tell Comedy digital series online, so all the new material I had just written after (Salt Daddy), I did on that, and that was out on the internet a month later. Three months after that, I did new material for Fallon, and now that’s out there.”
And sometimes it can be tough to kiss a joke goodbye just as it’s come together.
“Sometimes a two-minute joke, it can be such a solid joke, but sometimes it takes three months to work out that joke,” she said. “Then, boom, it’s out there, and it’s time to move on.”
Many of those jokes worked their way into her Tonight Show appearance and hence will need to be retired. However, that experience and exposure was worth all the work put into them.
“The whole week before, I was running my set anywhere that would give me stage time,” she said. “So, I was doing my five-minute, very strict PG-13 set for four people at a smoky bar, and that wasn’t fun. By the time you’re walking onto the set for Fallon, you have a crowd that’s there for you: Jimmy’s hyping them up, saying, ‘This is a big debut for her! Give her all the love!’ So, they’re very generous with the laughs. My set was actually longer than I had timed out beforehand, because I was waiting for the laughs to die down, much longer than I was at the smoky bar, when no one was laughing at me.”
Now, you’ll have your shot to laugh at her when she stops by Summit City Comedy Club for just one night.