The 38th Annual Seattle International Comedy Competition just recently wrapped up and we had a chance to meet some of the contestants!

Mary Lou Gamba

(Photo Credit: Mary Lou Gamba)

Tell us about you!  Where are you from, what was life like growing up?
I was born in New Jersey but raised in Fort Lauderdale, FL.  Parents from NYC, grandparents from Italy, so we had a very Italian American up bringing.  I’m still a hot weather, beach gal at heart, but I do love the PNW as I’ve been here 23 years.  I had a fun childhood.  Very fun and funny parents.   The whole family was into sports which we all played a lot of together, especially, softball and golf.  We also loved comedies and comedians and would watch together as a family quite a bit.

What made you decide to break into the world of comedy?
A friend of mine took a stand up comedy class many years ago and needed support for the final night of class as all the students had to perform so I went to watch.  It was so fun that I decided to take the class about a year later.  I took it a couple more times and I would do an open mic maybe once or twice a year and then chicken out and not go back.  I finally found an open mic that I was quite comfortable with four years ago, and they kept inviting me back weekly and eventually I broke out to do all the open mics and now I get gigs and get to travel here and there for comedy.  It’s been pretty non-stop for four years and I love it.  

Walk us through the process of how a joke comes to mind, refining it and then trying it out in front of an audience.  How does that all work?
I can only speak for myself as everyone’s process is different.  For myself, I take notes constantly in my phone of whatever strikes me as funny.  Could be anything, something I saw, something someone else said or I said, an interaction, etc.   Then I go back through my notes on a regular basis and start to develop some of the ideas.  I tend to develop them vocally.  I’ll audio record myself just riffing on a topic in my car while I’m driving.  Because I’m relaxed and alone (but a GOOD driver) some funny gems, jokes tend to just pop out.  Then after I’ll write them down and concentrate on turning into a formal joke.  I’ll try it at a mic and just keep refining it if I think it’s getting a decent response, or I’ll cut it and move on to something else.  

What are my favorite PNW places to hang out?
Well I love hanging out at comedy clubs for sure.  When I’m not doing comedy I’m likely watching it.  I like to get drinks at The Leary Traveler in Fremont.  I like Jacks BBQ on Airport Way and I love Miro Tea in Ballard as well as The Ballard Farmers Market.

Are there any charities that are near and dear to your heart that you work with?
I do not work with any charities but I do work at The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center which is a great place to work and does great things for many folks.

What are you looking forward to in 2018?
I have many great comedy gigs lined up next year and I cannot wait!  I’ll also likely travel to L.A. to check out the comedy scene and I might take a lovely vacation to Hawaii as I have never been.

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