"I think being funny is a wonderful quality to have as a woman. I feel female comedians at times are not marketed as sexy and I want to break that stereotype!"
JULIANNE TURKEL is a female comedian ready to take on the comedy world, while encouraging other comedians at the same time. Being a performer has many challenges, so Julianne decided to keep inspired by reading stories of other comedians and starting her own website "Julianne and the Comedians of NY." The site serves as a comedy outlet for other comedians, and features Julianne writing about her experiences.
Yes! Keep the laughs coming, Julianne.
Every Ella: Tell us a bit about yourself.
Julianne Turkel: I grew up in Folsom, CA. Folsom is a small town in the Sacramento area and is known for it’s prison…..great thing to be known for. :) I was raised by two very funny parents who taught me everything I know. I always knew I wanted to pursue theater and be in entertainment. I was super shy, but I had an urge in the second grade to do the talent show. My Dad helped me pick a song. I settled on a Shirelles song in a sparkly pink dress with a feather trim. Let me tell you, the hand motions I choreographed were on point too! From that moment on I knew I was meant for the stage. Something came over me and I was hooked. I always knew I wanted to live in NYC. I had a snow globe next to my bed growing up with the NYC skyline. It sounds cheesy, but every night before bed I shook it and hoped to live in NY one day. It worked! I attended Cal State Fullerton for my Freshman year and then decided to leave my musical theatre program. I transferred to CAP21 Conservatory in NYC. It was a great decision for me and I graduated in 2015. I always knew I could make people laugh and it felt like a magic trick. There is nothing else that makes me happier than laughter. So, over the years I have realized it is a huge asset to my career in musical theater and comedy.
What did you study in school?
I studied Musical Theatre at CAP 21 Conservatory in New York City.
You made a promise to yourself when you turned 23. Can you tell us and our readers what that promise was?
I have always had this weird obsession with turning 23. Why? I have no idea. This year I turned 23 and realized it was the big year. I had felt like I was having a tough time post graduation and in a rut. I would go to an audition and just felt stuck. I would walk into the room and not feel like myself. I felt like I had no control over my career and would get discouraged that unless they approved of me there would be no job. So, a couple days before my birthday I promised myself that I would create my own work. I also told myself I would start really developing my comedy career outside of the realm I already knew. I have always been a go getter, do it myself, fight for my future type gal. I think that post school life hit me with a dependency on others to hire me. I started unconsciously thinking if they didn't hire me then there is no job. After my 23rd birthday I made a vow to myself to quit relying on the approval of others. I know I have talent and skill and drive and decided to not wait to see who would justify me. I started by making a vision board and made a list of goals that I had to do. I began taking improv at Upright Citizens Brigade. I started to conceive an interview series idea and reached out to people I knew to see if they were interested. Suddenly, I felt the old Julianne again. The go getter and nobody says no to Julianne came back. Time to put your big girl pants on and believe in yourself and sell yourself harder than anyone else will. I then conceived the idea Julianne & The Comedians of NY.
You started an online comedy hub called “Julianne and the Comedians of NY.” Can you tell us what that is?
Julianne & The Comedians of NY is a new site I created. It focuses on interviews with other comedians in NY/ who began their career in NY, musical comedy videos, and female comedian empowerment. I am currently developing my own musical comedy videos as well that will be on the site. All of the photos are done by the super talented Sharon Alagna! I am so lucky to have her and still can’t believe she agreed to working with me.
What inspired you to start this?
I wanted to create a platform for comedians to inspire one another, support one another and collaborate. I also wanted a platform for myself as an actor. I also wanted to create a new female image for comedy. I wanted the site to have a sexy/funny vibe. I think being funny is a wonderful quality to have as a woman. I feel female comedians at times are not marketed as sexy and I want to break that stereotype!
My favorite thing to do when I need inspiration is to listen to and read interviews. So, I try to focus my interview questions on topics that will inspire other performers.I am so excited for the future of the site!
The musical comedy video portion of the site was inspired by my desire to fuse my musical theatre and comedy skills! Rachel Bloom and Lonely Island videos have been a huge inspiration to me as well.
What are your goals for the site?
I hope that my site continues to grow and create opportunities. My ultimate goal is to be able to empower female comedians. I love various types of comedy. Really grow the video portion of the site
Do you find that comedy is a male-dominated industry?
Initially coming from the world of musical theater my jaw still drops when I do something comedy related. The mass amount of straight men in the field is astounding to me. In musical theater there are so many women and gay men! I still am always shocked. It can be super fun because it is a different vibe than I am used to, but gotta have that female presence. It feels like a bit of a boys club. I think women feel that they need to go directly to crude comedy or highly sexual. That has proved to be funny. It makes me laugh and I totally support it, but I think as woman we can grow the material to even more. I always think about Jerry Seinfeld when I think of observational comedy that is squeaky clean, but hysterical and comments on society. I would love to emulate that as a woman…..but with music!
Have you had any issues with being female in comedy?
I haven't had any major issues. I just get vibes occasionally from men in comedy. There are so many female comedians now and so many men in the community are huge supporters of female comedians. I have experienced comedy feeling a bit of a boys club. I think in improv you have to fight to not always be the straight man in a scene when working with men. I cannot tell you the amount of times in improv where I have been cut off or overpowered by a male comedian. It can be super frustrating, but ladies are powerful. There are more and more women in comedy as the years pass!
Who is your favorite female comedian?
Parker Posey hands down. I also love Rachel Bloom, Jenny Slate, Susie Essman,Sarah Silverman, and Amy Poehler. (Oops I have more than one! )
What has been your biggest struggle thus far with your site or career?
Probably dealing with the fear of failure. The beauty of creating your own work is it is all up to you. You have artistic control, deal with scheduling etc. As wonderful as the artistic control is it is the scariest part as well. You can’t think too much. If you get stuck in thinking “THIS WILL ALL FAIL IF I FAIL!” you are screwed. So that has been the struggle of my site. The biggest struggle thus far with my career is honestly the feeling of being invisible and the large stretches of not working. Some weeks are amazing and some weeks not a lot happens. I am still getting used to the up and downs of the industry.
What has been your greatest accomplishment?
My ability to bring people together to create. I am also proud of myself for exposing my own work and risking vulnerability. Two weeks ago I brought an idea I have been thinking about doing into fruition. I am proud to say that I assembled an entire cast and crew to film the first video for the site. It has been tough and the most vulnerable experience for me. I had people back out and complications with all of the expenses this project entails. The week before we filmed I panicked and thought "Why am I doing this.....what if I fail...what if it sucks... what if NO ONE WATCHES IT!?????" I then realized everyone would do this if it was easy. It feels terrifying because more than ever I am taking my career into my own hands. I have control. I am so proud of the friends I have and their ability to come support my projects!
Name one woman who inspires you.
My mom. To say she is my best friend and inspiration is an understatement. She is a business owner and a wonderful leader. She owns her own physical therapy and Pilates studio in Sacramento, CA. As a business owner and person my mom has a wonderful way of making anyone she comes across feel included. She creates relationships with her clients and other people she hires on. I’ve never seen anyone motivate people quite like she does. Growing up she was a working mom and to this day I am so glad she was. I believe watching her work and create a business made me value the idea of a career. She amazes me because she has such a great sense of self. My mom has an amazing career AND over the years she has been there for me no matter what! That takes skill. She even made oatmeal raisin cookies on Tuesdays! She encourages people to further their education, eat well, take care of their bodies and promote themselves. Aside from being a strong, independent leader she’s a fantastic human and mom. She always supports every decision I make while asking me countless questions. She’s always there on the hard days, she challenges me, and she has taught me everything I know. I could write a novel on how much I love her and how much she inspires me.
What advice would you give to girls today?
Here are my 10 bullets points of advice:
Being funny and offbeat is sexy.
Be kind to other woman. Woman should stick together not break each other down.
Follow your instinct. If someone or something makes you feel like you are not enough have the courage to remove yourself from that situation or relationship.
Surround yourself with people who make you feel good and have the same drive for life as you.
Being happy and healthy is what makes you beautiful not makeup or material things.
For the love of god floss at night.
A relationship should enhance your life it shouldn't be a crutch to find happiness
Believe in yourself more than anyone else possibly could. People will respond.
Start meditating...it works!
“Put on some lipstick and pull yourself together.” -Elizabeth Taylor
And more specifically, what advice would you give to female comedians?
Love it. Even on the hard days. Just love it and remind yourself why you love it. Also, love your career, but live your life. It makes your work better. In addition, create things! It has changed my outlook and I would love other females in the industry to feel the same way. If you have an idea do it! Work hard in silence and let your success be the noise! I stole that quote from Frank Ocean, but it’s a good one, huh?