The brilliantly hilarious Katie Burrell is here this week and she talks about taking her ski comedy/documentary film Dream Job on a world tour, why she hates marketing, her process for stand up comedy, and creating her hybrid characters that make so many laugh.
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Lisa: Welcome to episode 33 of Outside by Design. Season four.
Iris: Hey everybody. Thanks for listening. That is Lisa.
Lisa: and Iris.
Iris: [laughs] and I'm Iris and we are coming to you from Wheelie, a creative agency based out of Whitefish, Montana. And we're almost done with 2019, we're almost done with season four, but we're kind of wrapping it up with a big one. This week we have Katie Burrell.
Lisa: Yeah. Katie Burrell is awesome. If you don't know who Katie Burrell is, you're missing out on a lot of laughter because she's a super, super smart standup comedian slash marketing guru slash film producer slash star. Um, Katie Burrell's hilarious, and she just made a movie called Dream Job.
Iris: Yes. And if you haven't seen Dream Job yet, it is in our show notes. You should go see it. Dream Job is a comedy documentary about the ski industry and three incredible women in the ski industry, and it's only 15 minutes long. So stop listening to this and go watch it right now. You won't regret it.
Lisa: Yeah. If you're driving, pull over. Pull over, click on the link in this... in the show notes and just sit on the side of the road and watch all 15 minutes. Put your flashers on and sit there.
Lisa: Don't watch it while you're driving. It's too funny.
Iris: Wherever you're going, you can be 15 minutes late. It'll be okay.
Lisa: It's totally worth it.
Iris: So... Katie Burrell has just wrapped up her world tour for this incredible film where she did a stand up show alongside showing the film to people.
Lisa: She's gone international.
Iris: She's gone international and…
Lisa: Big fucking deal!
Iris: from this podcast you'll be able to see why. So let's get to it.
LIsa: Katie, thank you so much for being here today. I'm stoked that you're on the podcast.
Katie: Oh, thank you. I am, I'm trying to use the word stoked less, but I'm very happy to be here. [laughs]
Lisa: Uh, the first question we ask everyone is to describe where they are and what they are looking at.
Katie: Oh, wow. Okay. So I'm sitting in my childhood bedroom, I guess you could say. Um, it's, it's like our, it's my bedroom at my parents' summer cottage, and I'm looking at my laundry that I have not done yet from being on tour for the last... 10 weeks? And it’s sitting here in a pile, and I don't really know how to start. It's not a lot of laundry, but it's just like crucial laundry. And I've just been in give ups for the last two days and feel very… [sighs] It just feels like, symbolic, almost. Like really closing that chapter, that tour chapter, uh, by doing this laundry really signifies to me that basically I have to get my shit together and move on to the next thing. So maybe that's why I'm not doing it.
Lisa: [laughs] And what part of Canada are you in?
Katie: BC. Port Alberni on Vancouver Island. Uh, specifically on Sproat Lake, which is where I grew up and my parents live now.
Lisa: Nice. So tell our listeners what you've been doing on tour, and um. Yeah. I'm excited to hear your take on it now that you're back and recovering.
Katie: [laughs] Right. Um, yeah. I'm literally just a brioche at this point. Like Europe is a trap as far as like being healthy goes, I don't understand how people in that part of the world are like slender and functional. Like, I was just like a lethargic bun for the entire time that I was there with like a cigarette dangling out of my mouth and like 400 Aperol spritzes in my hands at all times, it felt like. But besides, that's besides the point.
So I've been on tour with this film Dream Job that Colleen Gentemann, uh, who is a filmmaker based out of Revelstoke, produced and pulled me in as like the director slash feature. And, uh, it showcased the three, these three, um, women professional skiers, guides, athletes, coaches in the ski industry, Leah Evans, Christina Lustenberger, and Diny Harrison. And the film was called Dream Job.
And we launched it in… is called Dream Job. And we launched it in August, like launched the trailer in August. And the amount of attention it got within that first week of us, just like putting the trailer on the internet was enough that a world tour basically like came of it. So, and I'm not even being like... maybe a little hyper, hyper- hyperbolic. I said that wrong. Hyperbolic. Is it hyperbolic or high-per-bolic? Either way. Um. People know what I mean? So we hired Nat Segal, who's also a pro skier to... She's also like the most organized spreadsheet brain I've ever met in my life. But she planned this, the better part of this tour for us. And we premiered in Vancouver on September 25th and then went from there through like Denver, LA, Salt Lake City, Montreal, Banff, and then through the Kootenays. Um. Revelstoke, Golden, Fernie down to Whitefish. Um, then we went out to Europe and did nine cities in Europe with the Shades of Winter Tour, and then London. And then, uh, I got home two days ago, and that was like our... I guess, I mean, it was like... there were some parts of it that were like, the film was a part of a film festival, and so it was screening at the film festival. Some of it was like, it was being licensed independently for like private screenings or whatever. And that was like off on its own journey. But the ones that we were doing were, um... Like that was like Dream Job on tour, like the independent tour, was this sort of collaborative night of screening with Dream Job, another film Peace Mountain that Colleen made, uh, the Blondes who are, who's this shredder crew out of Revelstoke, uh, of three women, um, basically hung how can their carcasses is what they say all the time. I feel too old to say that, but they say that. Uh, and, um... this commercial- I guess, a short film featuring Cody Townsend and Elyse Saugstad, uh, out at Mica heli skiing that I wrote and directed and shot with Jamie Tanner of Sherpa Cinema out there last winter and myself doing standup comedy.
So it was like this multimedia... so between each film, like, I would do stand up. Or do like a Q and A or do some sort of like hosting, uh, crowd interaction that, um, split the films up and gave the audience a chance to basically like laugh in a multitude of different ways. Because for me, I'm all about... like, I love the way that like different laughter comes as a result of different mediums. So it's like you get your screen laughter, you get your like, standup laughter, improv, laughter. You get like kind of laughter… it's like your buddy’s just being an idiot and like falls for… ‘cause he's an idiot and you laugh so hard at him. And there's just, I don't know. So we're, I was like, let's create something that's like a… like a multimedia, uh, tour that has like this element of standup. Plus I'm unknown. So it's like, you just see me doing this character on screen in the film. But to give it context, like to really set up the film, like it actually really helps if you see some of my standup before that. Cause then people can kind of like touch my energy before, uh, before they're, they're experiencing me as like the host or the every man or the like whatever lens in the film after the fact. So... that's basically what we've been up to. My nervous system is more or less not a nervous system anymore. It's just, I don't even know. I'm just a hormone.
Lisa: [laughs] Um, yeah. That's awesome. And do you want to talk about the character that you've created? Because I think it's so relevant and hilarious.
Katie: Totally. Um, well, I mean, so the, the Dream- the character that was for... that we created for a Dream Job, um, was a... is sort of a.. so to back up a little bit, two years ago I was playing this character on my Instagram, where I basically like created a fake person and just like was her for two years.
But people love to go, “but was she really fake?” and I'm like, yeah! Also, like, we're all narcissists and deeply insecure and obsessed with ourselves and self-absorbed. So in some ways, yeah, it was a hybrid version of me, but also like, no. I'm not an ignorant racist, like, which she at times was simply because of the, like one dimensional element of her, of this character. Which I was like making a point that like you can create a fake person on Instagram because of the qualities of the app, but let's stop, stop giving it so much power, et cetera, either way. Went over some people's heads. Some people somehow were into it.
Lisa: I've been on that journey for years, for two years with you. I've been like…
Katie: Oh you have? [laughs]
Lisa: Oh my God, I'm such a fan. Because... I really like it when you're in hotels wearing a robe. Those are my favorite.
Katie: Ha! But like promoting climate change? But like meeting new towels every morning cause like, I'm lost in the world of visiting my ignorance. Yeah. Uh, okay, cool. So you have context. Um, and then, so that was like, that was like the Influencer character. We kinda like shifted my character for a Dream Job into more of like a hybrid version of me as a comedian. It's a little, like, saltier basically. And... a little bit less like, dumb, and a little bit more... just, vulnerable. And so the way that you create like a hybrid character essentially is to rip out a few of the most pressing human qualities that like make them, uh, your... like, someone that would be your friend, like empathy or, um, I dunno. Listening skills. And basically you just like create an infallible ego. And the ego up against, uh, real humans is like, what creates that foil basically. So it's kinda like, um… Like Larry David and Curb Your Enthusiasm, which like I'm not like so self aggrandizing to like compare myself. But it's like that is kind of the similar technique where you basically create like a, a stripped down version of a human to then create like a, a window or a lens or a platform to the ones that are more real, that bump up against them.
And so my character in Dream Job was very much like a hybrid version of me as a marketing professional and a comedian and a bitter, insecure out of shape, relatable, every man who's afraid of life, basically. [laughs] Uh, that was what, um, provided like a really nice, sort of, um, like a really nice contrast to the, the, like, undeniable prowess of Leah Evans, Christina… and Christina Lustenberger, and Diny Harrison, who are just like so incredibly, um… what's a, what's a good word to describe them? Like if they were war heroes, they'd be like metaled. They'd be awarded war heroes. Uh, that's sort of, um. So that is the character, if that makes any sense at all. I'm not sure. But.
Lisa: It does. It does. And so the opening line in that movie is like... or like pretty, pretty early in that movie you're like, I work in marketing and I kind of hate it. Is that... is that your character or is that true?
Katie: Oh God, that is true! That is very true. Okay. So here's the thing. When we created the, um, well, when we created the voiceovers for Dream Job. We were lying in… lying. We sound so janky. We kind of are. Whatever.
We're in Colleen’s production office with her screens, with the film on the screens, and she's going, how do you want to set up? How do you want to set up this whole thing? And I was like, can I just be like, my name is Katie Burrell, I work in marketing. I hate it. She was like, uh, yeah? She was like, can you just record this into a microphone? I was like, okay.
And then she was like, how do you want to set up the women? And I was like, can we just be like, I'm Leah Evans and I'm this and this? And she was like, yep, can you just record that? And so it was definitely like out of a place of truth, but it was also like. Uh, to, to set up the whole, like, journey. You have to start kind of in like a pole, a pole, if that makes sense. It's like the pole- the polarity of like going from hating something to like loving it or from like not understanding it, to appreciating it or however you want to sort of describe that journey. That's like kind of what we were hoping to do, where we started with the pole of me saying, “I hate being in marketing. Like, I want to be one of the stars.” And then kind of realizing like while it's not as glamorous or as easy or as, um... it's just not as easy as, as they make it look basically.
And so... But yeah, no, I definitely don't love marketing. [laughs] I can't, like, I've literally been in meetings, not at my current, not at the current role that I had or the role that I had when I, when we were shooting that, but I've had marketing jobs or like literally in presentations where people are talking about like KPIs and like social assets and I'm, I'm just like looking around being like, can we all stop pretending like we care? STOP IT! Like, just everyone stop! It's just like, so crazy to me that we've all just decide as a collective to be the most pretentious assholes that have ever existed and just said, decided we're just gonna use these horrible words as a group and be okay with it together? And just sit and nod at each other and go mmm [kissing noises] We could just not do that. We could just be like, this is all a farce. This is all just numbers to create jobs for people that didn't get a degree that you can use anywhere, like... and I'm guilty. I'm like, I did it. I've done it all. I've said the worst shit you ever heard on friggin conference calls, whatever. But… This, this is, I don't know, I'm just like, I can't do it anymore. I can't fake it anymore. And I, God bless everyone that I've worked with in the past and will continue to work with in the future. Like I… Colleen and my producer, she literally is like, she refers to, it was like, Oh fuck, she's gone rogue again, when I just start saying all this shit that makes me like ultimately unhireable in the future.
She's like, good. Great, Katie, like we're trying to get funding over here from someone at some point. I'm like, well we’re not not getting funding from any dickheads, that's for sure!
Lisa: [laughs] Yeah. I was in a meeting once and someone was like, let's kick some asset!
Katie: Oh no!
Lisa: I just stared blankly. Saying how did I get here?
Katie: How did I? Yeah.
Lisa: How did my whole life, every decision I've ever made…
Katie hashtag how did I get here. Wow.
Lisa: In this moment, right here. Kicking some asset.
Katie: It’s pretty bad how bad corporate speak can get. It's pretty bad.
Lisa: Well, yeah, and that to me, like that opening line had me like, that was such a good hook. I was like, this is going to be awesome.
Katie: [laughs] I mean, it's hard not to kind of hate it. It's pretty bad. It's pretty annoying. Like just in general. Um, the like marketing elements of most everything right now are pretty bad. I was just... having this conversation where it's like, it's either deeply sexual, like, like sexualized to the point of just like absurdity, like for fragrances for example, like Dolce and Gabbana it’s just like, you're just like fucking each other in like a lagoon.
And then it's like, and then the other side of it was just, just like extraordinary, like, narcissism or in self-promotion with like the whole influencer thing. Or the other side of it, which is like this... Just lying. It's just lying. Like when Enbridge comes out with like a commercial and it's like a fucking boat in a pristine like, channel and it's just like, when did we all start blowing smoke up each other's asses, like so royally? And accepting that as like, how we communicate. Like if you can't read, if you were an alien that landed, you'd be like, I don't know if… what? You wouldn't know where to start if you just took marketing or like the external projections of companies or whatever shit they're feeding their audience or public at any given point and went, this is… this is the truth? Oh, okay. You'd be completely ass up. Like, head in the sand. ‘cause it's... none of it is real.
Lisa: No. None of it is real.
Katie: It's absurd.
Lisa: No, it's certainly fun. Um…
Katie: [laughs] yeah, very fun.
Lisa: You know, as the owner of a creative agency, I have to say, some days I'm like, how is this job real? Uh, but it is.
Katie: Right? Very interesting because it's ultimately just communicating experiences, I think really. It's like… communicate the experience, communicate the way it'll make you feel, and then consumerism ensues. That's marketing.
Lisa: Exactly. Exactly.
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Lisa: I find this to bee really refreshing because I. Hate. Marketing. I own a creative agency and I publicly hate marketing.
Iris: Right. When I heard Katie talk about this, I thought, that's right up Lisa's alley.
Lisa: [laughs] And that's I think, why... like, our jobs are ridiculously fun, but that's why I always say like, we're not firefighters. We're not saving lives. No one's going to die if you don't nail that caption on the social media posts.
Lisa: But it is fun. And brand- marketing, if you use marketing for good, you can communicate to the greater good.
Lisa: You know, on behalf of peo- you can, you can use your platform to have a voice for good. And that's what we try to do at Wheelie instead of just putting shit out into the world.
Iris: Yeah. You don't need to pretend that it's like life and death scenarios or use all the buzzwords or…
Lisa: yell. There's no reason to ever yell at this job.
Iris: Yeah. No.
Lisa: Anyway, enough of that, that was a random. Back to Katie.
Lisa: So it's really interesting how you've had such a positive response- well, it's not interesting, I think it's expected, but... it's really timely that you've had such a positive, positive response across the country in all these ski towns. Um, kind of like bringing a little bit of call out culture to the ski industry in a really good way. Have you heard a lot of feedback on that?
Katie: Pfff… I mean, it's very interesting. It's a very interesting experience to create something like, in a room with four other people and then put it out into the world. And just go, this feels... correct. And while we were editing, like Colleen, and I kept laughing because I was in this like weird phase as like a person who can't really communicate all the time, like exactly my thoughts. And I would just, she'd, she'd like, show me an assembly and I would go, Ugh. It's incorrect. And she'd be like, great, that's really helpful for me, and I would be like, it's just incorrect. I don't know what to say. It's just incorrect. She's like, thank you so much. I'm glad that this has been such a productive work session.
Uh, and then every once in a while you go, this is - that's correct! You see how that's correct? That's correct. Like you'd get there to get either way, we put out this piece of work that we felt was correct. We were like, nah. Well, it's - it's as good as it's gonna be, it feels it’s from our genuine, authentic places as we can get it. It doesn't do anything that's too deeply problematic. It kind of still stays, quote unquote brave with like one objectifying male joke. Uh, it kind of like, it doesn't say anything about it being all women because it's regressive in our opinions to just continue to be like, “give us a boost because we're all girls. We need a hand.” It's like, let's just create a piece of entertainment, that features really incredible skiing that has a storyline, that has some structure, that has some character development and beautiful scenery and impressive, you know, Lusti skis out of an avalanche. It's quite shocking, et cetera. And it felt, it just felt… from us. Like it's like, it's just from us. It's like, okay, here you go.
And then, and then after the fact, people go, what? What's been, so this is like call out culture. Like, Oh, what, how? This is subversive. You’re like looking at each other like, you're like, shit, you're just kinda just like side-eyeing each other being like, okay? Yeah, like, I dunno, like we just made something that we felt was right from us. And it felt right to Leah. It felt right to Diny. It felt right to Lusti. It felt right to Coleen and I, it felt right to the Blondes. It felt right to the people we worked with that were other filmers and other... and the sound guy. And then we were like, here you go. Like we didn't have any intentions of doing anything like, in a timely manner, or to make a point to say this that or the other thing. It just felt like it was like the piece of entertainment that felt, like, kind of... revealed itself to us. Like, in the editing process and in the development process. And while we were playing on the side of a mountain doing improvisational comedy, like whatever. It just felt right. You know? Does that make sense?
Lisa: Yeah, it does.
Katie: It was like, there was no intention behind it, really. I mean, of course there's intention behind the things you do, but we were like, it's just a piece of entertainment. That's a good one, I hope. That's all you want as a... for me anyway. Um, and to me, I'm like, if you just have your... as like an artist or a creator, like… like all of us have different goals. Like for me, I've always been about, I've always wanted to entertain. For Colleen, she's always wanted to reach audiences like and touch them. And for like Leah and Lusti and DinY, like, they all have different goals, you know what I mean? Like Lusti wants to showcase her skiing. Leah's always been about like connecting people to their higher consciousness and then like existing in the world like that. Diny’s all about like taking the piss out of everything so that's so serious and just being real and honest and truthful and living your life, you know what I mean? So it's like, when you kind of get that energy together, like... that is where I think people are getting this like “call out culture.” It's not really call out culture. It's just like…. that's just what people are really like when they're not being fucking glossy. The glossy shit is what is not where no one should be anymore. Ever. Really. Like, that's like get... like, led Geena Davis and all the Shirley temple tap dancing of the fifties - like, that's not who we are anymore as like a collective human beings who are trying to more go up towards the higher self and the pursuit of that, you know? And... so... I don't think any of us had any sort of like malicious intent to like call out an industry and people go, Oh, you're making fun of the industry, or you're making fun of athletes, or you're... Um, no, I'm not. What the hell are you talking about? I'm making fun of myself.
I'm like, I'm doing this is self deprecating humor to a T. uh, the whole function of it is to showcase how powerful the other women are... through the, you know what I mean? Through the, through the every man. It's like the... the Bill Murray parody Twitter account. That was the like Genesis of when we were like really in the ideation phase, which was like, there should always be like an average guy like running and every, or competing in every Olympic event for reference. Like, if you saw like the hundred meter sprint and there was a banker named Tim, just like making his way... It would take him like 20 seconds. Or 25, I don't even know. The rest of them is like nine seconds and he's just like running and kinda gassed and like, you know, he's kinda hung over cause he's just like never really stops drinking. Anyway.
So it's cool that we're getting like... it's flattering and it's cool and it's like, thank you? Yeah. Okay. Like, this is just like funny, “this is what skiing needed” and we're going... skiing actually just needs, like, snow, but, okay.
Lisa: Yeah. Absolutely.
Katie: It’s just funny.
Lisa: How... what's your process like when you are writing... do you call it a set? When you're going to go write some standup jokes?
Katie: Eh, well, a standup is like a whole other… stand up’s like a whole other beast. Um, and I actually was just having this conversation with a friend of mine who's a, like a professional comedian and an actor, and there's a lot of like, very, um, there's a bit of tension from time to time around how we label ourselves as comedians.
So there's like, it's actually like sort of poor etiquette, some people think, to say like, I'm a comedian. Versus a comic versus a standup comic versus a touring comedian versus duh, dah, dah, dah. It's like a... there's a, there's a school of- there's a group of people, there's a school of thought that's like, it's very, um… are very conscious of like how we're labeling ourselves as performers. So for me, it's like, this fall was such a, like, departure from any sort of way I'd ever presented my - I'm doing quotations with my fingers right now - “work.” But it's like there was the standup comedy element, which was, and then there was the hosting element, and then there was this film. And I'm, I have a really hard time saying I'm a standup comedian. Because even though I do , I've done tons of standup, I do tea, but I'm not like doing it full time. And I don't like have a process of writing and building out a set and continue to workshop it and going to mic’s- and hitting open mics.
And because there's like a... I don't know, when I was doing standup comedy more full time a couple of years ago in Vancouver, it was like, there was this kind of... I had more of a, um, I had more of a like, concentrated or concerted approach to it. It was like, think of your joke, it kind of like channels sometimes. Like, it kind of comes to you in a moment and then you kind of have like a framework you can kind of apply to it that you know will like work. And then it's like setup, setup, punchline, set up, punchline, setup, setup, setup, punchline tag or whatever. And so you like, have that, and then you go and you work it out. And then really what you do is you go to a microphone, like a open mic and you test it. And you try it on another mic and another mic and another mic. And then you record it and you listen to it and you go, oh, people laughed harder in the middle of it than they did at the end of it. So I should flip that, so that at the end they laugh hardest at the joke versus in the middle of it. Cause then it kinda like doesn't create that same building effect when you're building out like a five minute set. And then that turns into a 10, that turns into 12, 15, et cetera.
So I wasn't doing that, um, on a regular basis prior to this fall tour. Um, this fall tour was pretty, like, throw you back into the deep end kind of, uh, approach to stand up. Like, the first show I did where I did like a 15 minute set was 250 people and by November I performed for a crowd of 900 in Europe, in England, and I have never performed internationally. And I literally flew from Vancouver to London, took a train up to Kendall, tried to sleep, got picked up by the festival people there, taken to the hotel, freshened up, taken to the event, walked in the event, looked at Colleen, and I go, I thought you said this was going to be like 200 people. She was like, I thought it was! It's like a thousand person auditorium. I'm like, cool! Like, all brilliant people love to do is go, “Oh yeah, we have a very dry sense of humor.” Or that was like a, not a British accent. I don’t even know what that was. And I'm going, fuck, is any of my shit even dry? What if they don't get me? I'm like, thinking about Ricky Gervais' office versus like Steve Carell's office. I'm like freaking out in my head. And I was like, why ever? It's not like I can go and like workshop, how to do your stupid Canadian jokes in England before, you know, cause otherwise I’d have to go live in London for a year and like hit all the mics and like try them out in the different suburbs of London, of blah, blah, blah.
So for me, I'm like, I'm fucking as, like, not, uh, ordered as it gets when it comes to, like, performing. And that's been actually, like, probably the most fun I've ever had as I think a result of not playing by those kind of rules. Like doing shows in like Fernie and... I think Golden actually was probably the funnest night I had on stage of the whole fall because like shit went so sideways and it was just like this opportunity to just be so present in the moment. Like, I was doing, I did my set or whatever later in the night, but basically I walk on stage and in the front row is - I had written like five minutes of roast jokes on Golden, uh, for listeners who are not familiar, Golden’s like the shitty town, it’s just like a truck stop but it's not. Like, people from Golden will be messaging me and be like, you don't understand. We have a… cafe. Anyway, so I'd written these… also, Golden loves to have the piss taken out of it. It loves to just get shit. It's like got that good fun chip on its shoulder vibe.
Katie: Anyway, I walk on stage, front row, just a row of children. I go, what? This is a licensed event? I go, this is illegal, so I walk downstairs, I go, why are there children here? Everyone starts laughing. “No, seriously, why are there children here?” And then it was just became, the whole night just became me like interacting with these kids every time I was on stage and I was like asking them about their sex lives and they're like 12 through 14, like, free skiers that were like in the freestyle ski club at Kicking Horse and I'm asking them about their- I'm like, what- do you guys-? And then I do, I have a bit about soaking and I was doing my soaking bit. I'm like, you guys know what I'm saying? And they're just nodding. They're like fully with me. And I was just like realizing in this moment as it's all happening, I'm going… this is, this is the gen Z-Boomer thing in real life right now. Like they're going like, “OK, boomer” to me while I'm like doing jokes and worrying about them not knowing about it yet. They're like, we're 12! I'm like, right, you're 12. They go, no, we're 12. Like, we've had the internet. We've been on, we've had phones for six years. Like, you'd think...
So anyway, it was like those opportunities to just like play with people and just like... As if they're just your buds, and then everyone kind of gets on board. It's like... but then I feel like, I don't have the jurisdiction to say things like “crowd work” ‘cause I, I'm not like a professional comedian, professional standup comic on her world tour doing crowd work to her arenas like Tig Notaro or whatever. I'm just like fucking asking these 12 year olds about whether or not they're banging each other and, and they're laughing and their parents are in the background, they're gutting themselves. And I'm just like…. this is just, this is fun, you know? So, no, I don't have a process to answer your question in fucking six minutes.
Lisa: Well, I mean, it sounded like it's a freestyle process, maybe. I don't know.
Katie: [laughs} You asked me that question, I could've gone, “It's a freestyle process.” But instead I'll walk you through the like full like self- like, crippling, like, self-identity journey I have of like, whether or not I belong to a group of people that I subscribed you, or if I'm an outsider or if I'm actually like, uh, disrespectful of the art of standup comedy, or if I'm not, it's a whole thing.
Lisa: So were your jokes in England, were you dry enough? Was the humor, did it land?
Katie: [laughs] ha! That’s, like, instantly I went somewhere naughty in my mind, but… You never want to, you can never be too wet, as they say. Either way.
My dream, my, I mean, my jokes worked. It was funny cause I literally was like having this conversation with um, some of the volunteers in the, in the backstage area with all the athletes before the, um, and the filmmakers before the screenings. And I, cause they would ask, they asked me to stand up comedy in the middle of this show, this festival.
And so I was asking, ‘cause I was kinda trying to tailor my set a little bit to be a little bit more PG. Ha ha, that worked. It didn't work. So I'm like asking these guys, I go... the word wench. Is that a bad? ‘Cause I was going to like try to chuck in some, like, and like, I go is the word wench a bad word? Like is it like cunt or is it like whore, or is it, like what's its level?
And they were like, Oh, wench is fine. Like it's a bar maid, blah, blah, blah. I was like, okay, cause I have waitressing jokes. I was like, okay, well I just want to know what wench is. So I get on stage, I open with the waitressing joke, I chuck all the word wench, everyone cracks up. We're all laughing, we're having a good time.
Then I roll into, like, soaking and like whatever the hell else and then, um, get off stage and they love- they, they loved it. They had a good time. They were laughing, we were laughing as a group and um, um, one of those guys came up to me after, he goes, “I don't know why you were concerned about saying the word wench.” He’s like, “that’s the least of your concerns!”
‘Cause I basically was just like, the grossest human on Earth for 10 minutes after the word wench - well, not that gross. It's all like, I'm like, you know, but it's, I said gnarlier shit than winch, I guess, according to them. So, I don't know. It is definitely like, it's definitely like fun to just like experience... It's kind of a weird way to experience culture, shouting at 900 people and seeing how they react, but it's also a way to experience culture. You're like, interesting. That didn't work. Interesting. That really worked. Okay. They're kind of comme ci, comme ça on that. All right. Carrying on, you know, very interesting.
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Lisa: Here's the thing about comedians, Iris. Comedians are like, comedians are like the smartest humans because they're like... dangerously smart. Because they're able to understand a situation so completely that they can call out the absurdity in a way that, you know, resonates with your emotions, but also is like educational enough to display and mirror how ridiculous it is. So comedians are like, brilliant. Katie Burrell is freaking genius.
Lisa: Listen to this chick. She's so smart.
Iris: Yeah. I find it interesting that Katie doesn't want to call herself a standup comedian. Um, because I feel like we find that in a lot of creative jobs as well. People don't want to call themselves an artist, even though they're creating art. Sometimes we just have difficulties with labels.
Lisa: Mhmm. I'd like to label Katie hilarious and brilliant.
Iris: Yeah, I think that's a good stamp that she might be okay with wearing. Let's get back to Katie.
Lisa: And so then do you adapt what you're saying based on how hard they're laughing, or do you have kind of an idea of where you're going with it?
Katie: Yeah, for sure. So, I mean, the whole thing is... like, when you're hosting or when you're doing, when you're performing or you’re doing any sort of public speaking? Um. If you're an empath, which I am, you're like downloading information from the crowd, like in real time. And it can be very intense cause you're like downloading them judging you, downloading them loving you, downloading them being like, not following what you're saying, totally. Like downloading them, being like right there with you. And then that, that, that like, mainlines into your ego, and then you have to like block it while you're talking. And there's just like a lot going on, on an energetic level. Um, especially with big crowds. I mean with small crowds too, but you can more connect on a deeper level, faster with smaller crowds than... the bigger crowds, I'd never experienced that on that level before. So I was like kind of also learning in real time about how to manage myself on stage. And every once in a while you kind of catch yourself while you're talking. You're like, oh this, this setup’s gone on too long. I need to go somewhere else. And I think that's where the like, really good, really, really, really good pros can kinda like, do that, and I like recognized a handful of times while I was touring, I was like, oh, this is a skill. This is me bumping up against it. I'm getting lucky here. Okay. I got lucky there. Okay. I'm kind of playing with it now. Okay, kind of going out on this like gang plank and I'm still getting them to laugh. This is just totally improvised. All right. Okay. Abort, abort, like, go back to your set. You know what I mean?
So you've kind of like play with it, but it's just miles, right? It's like, you just need experience and time and miles and, so, yeah. So there are definitely scenarios in which I would like, adapt and shift. And then, like, when we were in Stockholm for example, I like took- during a Q&A, like Sandra Lahnsteiner who organizes Shades of Winter, she like handed me the mic and she's like, can you do, like, some stand up during the Q&A? So she asked me, she basically asked me to go rogue during the Q&A, And then Stockholm was like so into it.
And then she like four days later in Vienna, she's like, do you want to do some jokes in Vienna? And I'm like, okay. So then we're like in Vienna and whatever, do the Q&A. And I'm like talking to these people and they're just like, not having me, not having me. I was like, fuck, I'm like, I should have brought my piano. I knew it.
Anyway. Um, so it's like, I mean, that's part of it too, right? It's like, fuck. Like, it's a research project to take your work out into all these different audiences. Like in Colona, for example, I like… well, Colona versus Vienna, like versus Banff - like, it's just wild. Like you're just like, some days you leave a show, you're like, I'm the King of the world, I am the King. And then some days you leave the show, you're like, I should just be a nurse? Like, what am I doing? Like, I suck. So it's like, yeah, it's good. It's good to have all of it. ‘Cause then you can kind of like pick and choose and play around and... Whatever. That's just fucking human energetics and human dynamics IRL, I guess.
Lisa: Yeah. Comedians are smart as shit, like to be able to be able to make commentary on, you know, a level that resonates with people from diverse backgrounds. Like you gotta be honest. I think comedians and comics are just some of the smartest people.
Katie: [laughs] I'm just going to accept your compliment. I’m like uhh, uhh, uhh, should I send you my credit card statement? [both laugh] It's definitely like, it's an energetic kind of thing, I think, to be honest. And I dunno, some of the, like, I have friends that are. I just watch them. I'm like, what? Or like the comedians I really look up to that I don't know. I'm like, what? How are you doing that? It's like, so... it's, but it's just, it's almost like just getting into another... it's like digging into another... it's like a crack in the matrix that they're like coming at or something. Instead of being like here in the like small talk and then here in the like thing you're supposed to say, they're like... in the middle somehow. And it's like, it just feels nice. And yeah, I dunno. I went to Louis C.K. live a few years ago and I know he's like a contentious individual, but I had an, I had an endorphin rush from how hard I was laughing. Because he was so in there. It was like, it was like... picking a wart out of your- it was like a boog- it was like awful shit that he was doing that felt, feels, so good. You know what I mean? Like I was like, Ugh. And you're just like mad at yourself while you're laughing so hard and it feels so good.
Anyway. But yeah, if you're just like bombing, you got to stop. You got to abort, like, you've got to figure it out. Again, to answer your question in way too long. But it's like if, if they, if they're not responding, change gears. Like, you know what I mean? Like in if, yeah. If they're not responding, they go, oh. the audience sucked. It’s like, no, you did. You know what I mean? Like, no, you didn't figure it out. Like, it's on you. You know.
Lisa: Yeah. Wow. That's, that's a pretty interesting level of accountability to take into that.
Katie: I mean, it's like any job that you have though. You're like a defense lawyer for criminals. If you take your job seriously, you go, okay, I have to literally make this criminal seem like an innocent person that's not a criminal. Like, I was actually just reading yesterday, the Michael Vick case with the guys that he... like the dog fighting ring? And I was like disgusted reading it, but their criminal, like, the defense lawyers basically created a whole case around, um, these guys being raised in a culture where a dog fighting was, uh, like part of the culture. Is culturally accepted. And then when they had some money, it allowed them to get into that place. And so really it was a journey in them feeling like senses of belonging and dah, dah, dah. And I was like, Holy shit, this is human psychology, so manipulated and so twisted and it's crazy dark and... but anyway, it's like in any profession you have, like you have to take account- It's like the physician taking full accountability. You have to take full accountability for what you're doing because if it's coming out of your mouth or it's coming out of your hands, if you're a surgeon, whatever it is. You take… it's like that total ownership thing, like in the captain going down with its ship, or like the military leader going out into war and sacrificing themselves because they put their troops in danger.
Like, I mean, I don't know the full run down of that. Like I would obviously be the worst captain and the worst military leader ever, but it's like this... It's a similar kind of thing. It's like you got to take... It's like when you fuck up, you just have to own it, you know? And if you do a good job, you can be like, thank you. I'll fuck up inevitably any minute here. So it feels good in the fleeting moment that it is. You know? I think that's an important approach for life in general.
Lisa: Yeah. So I did a really bad job asking this question, but we have a word of the month on the podcast. You know, normally I get it in here sooner, but the word of the month is synthesis. So when you hear that word, what, what do you think about
Katie: I mean, the first thing that came to mind in all honesty was like... sort of, the synergy that came as a result of kind of a crux point in I think my career, Colleen’s career and then the women that we featured in Dream Job’s careers as well. And how that sort of like… the, this like moment of crux in each of our places that we were at, like all kinds of lifts looking to shift into like another paradigm, almost, or like kind of break the rules a little bit in our own way. And, um, that like ended up creating this sort of really fun tension while we are working together.
And so when I think synthesis, I think about like, I think about like getting to a place in your life or your career or your romantic life or your physical body journey, whatever it is, and getting to that point where you have to go, okay, now I step into the shit where it actually gets hard. And if you can find people and things and opportunities and scenarios that speak that language where they go, I'm bumping up against something that's not letting me to go further. Because it's like, you have to get into like manifestation and the energy and being supported by the universe to like break through into that next level. If you can find people that are on that and then you can work together, it becomes almost like you suspend each other in the universe and you suspend each other in the experience of it.
And then all of a sudden, like all these sort of like socially constructed things start to go away and like money and, uh, like, um, culture and like oppression. Like, not oppression, but like, um, being like held down by a thumb, whether it's like creatively, artistically or whatever, because you are moving through a level of what it means to be like a human on earth versus like a energetic light being. And then in that space, in that space, to me, that's synthesis. That's like where you get to it. Um, and so to me I'm like, well, it was really an inter- Like, I mean, I don't, no one gets, I mean, I don't get to exist there all the time. Like I think everyone that's like flow state or whatever, like you get there every once in a while it feels like heroin. I've never done heroin, but like, apparently it's great. Um, designer heroin. I'm not- Oh God, I, sorry, retract. Retract. Rewind button. [rewinding noises] Okay. Before I said anything about heroin being good, I was saying, uh, that flow state is a place where that is like the... that's the area in which you can actually do a creative shit that like moves things forward. Does that make sense?
Jordan Peterson's like, not to get into Jordan Peterson, but it's like the whole like idea of creativity and like the actual definition of creativity and like, all that kind of stuff. It's like, to make something that didn't exist in any iteration before. Which is a, an essentially impossible feat and not even something that you should really dedicate your life to doing. ‘Cause it's just going to be futile, because you're just a variation of each of us. There's too many variables and so many variations and so many things. It's just sort of like exhaust- just to exhaust yourself to then be disappointed in yourself. So it's like, but, but, but getting to a place where you're like moving up into a state of higher consciousness, a higher self, and then being in that area, that space - I think that's where like creativity can happen. And I think that's why it was like such a magical experience working with like Colleen and Lusti and Diny and the Blondes and Leah on this cause we were like... I don't even think we were like consciously doing it. We were just like all kind of, it's probably just Leah, Leah, just magic. She's just like, makes everyone around her basically be like a forest nymph.
Lisa: [laughs] Wow. That was a hell of an answer. That's amazing. So where can people find you on the internet and follow you? Stalk you?
Katie: Um, yeah. Cool. Uh, if you're gonna stalk me, at least fucking tell me you're doing it. And I don't know if that's necessarily stalking, but I’d like to know, I would like to know we can have a dialogue.
Um. I am on Instagram at @KatieBurrellTV. I am on, we just have a, we just are trying to fucking get our shit together with like the YouTube thing and the dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah bullshit. So it's like, Dream Job is online now on YouTube. I mean, if I'm being honest, it's been online since June. Just no one has fucking any sort of Google search, uh, capacities apparently. Cause I got approximately 4,000 DMs asking me where it would be online. And I just sort of like, didn't answer, but answered, anyway. It's been online since June. We had to put it online since June, but then we couldn't say it was online because of the tour and the festivals and all these sort of rules that we kind of like low key broke.
But either way, um, Dream Job’s on YouTube. We have Katie Burrell a YouTube channel. You can subscribe to that. All of our stuff coming out from like KBTV and the future will come. We're working on follow-ups to Dream Job. I don't want to say too much, but basically Dream Job two is in the works and it's going to be fun.
Uh, there's, um, Colleen Gentmann, you can find her on her Instagram and then Evan Leah, Christina Lusti, Diny Harrison54. I don't want the... I don't know why she has 54 there. We gotta work on some branding with her. It's cool. She's like, past it. She doesn't give a shit. Um, either way. Yeah. That's, that's, that's the internet in a nutshell, um, for me. And then my email is firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to have any sort of like more in depth conversation about stuff that you can't do in the DMs, although, fuck, the DMs is where everything happens these days. It feel like.
Lisa: Awesome. Well, yeah. Thank you so much for being here and that was, that was a fun one.
Katie: Okay. I hope I, I hope, [laughs] I hope I -
Lisa: You stuck your landing.
Katie: I stuck my landing. All right. Beauty. Okay. Thanks Lisa. Great chatting with you.
Iris: Thank you so much, Katie, for being here. Like I said, listeners, if you didn't pull over already, which you should have, we told you to at the beginning of this episode, pull over now and watch Dream Job. It's linked in our show notes. Or you can Google it. Dream Job. Katie Burrell.
Iris: And once you're done watching that film, that's the first thing that you need to do. The second thing you need to do is follow @KatieBurrellTV on Instagram. It's very funny because it's basically Dream Job, but just every single day. Watch her stories, consume that content. You'll be very happy that you did.
Lisa: You won't regret it.
Iris: And with that, we have one more episode left in season four and in 2019 before we take a break in January and it'll be a fun one.
Lisa: It's ridiculous.
Iris: So look forward to that and happy holidays.