30 Under 30: Jo Firestone, Comedian

photo by Nicolas Maloof

Last week marked the release of our annual 30 Under 30 issue, and because each of these individuals is so interesting, we thought we’d further highlight them by running some brief interviews with them.

Name: Jo Firestone
Age: 28
Neighborhood: Fort Greene
Occupation: Comedian

Who would be your choice for a 30 Under 30?
Probably one of those kids on Master Chef Jr.
Who are your role models in your industry?
I love what Kristen Schaal and Kurt Braunhauler do. I love Chris Gethard. I’m a big fan of Tom Scharpling, as well. I really admire their work, and how they carved out space for themselves and developed a big following just doing their own thing.

What was a turning point for you, when you realized you could make a career out of something you loved to do?
I still have uncertainty about this career. Because once you get one gig, it can last a couple months, but then before you know it, the job is done and the cash you kept in a drawer has somehow all gone to the Thai restaurant down the street and now all you have is the memory of noodles. Suffice it to say, I still keep my catering uniform.

What’s some advice you’d have for people looking to get a foothold in your industry?
I’d say make all of your dumb ideas. If you have an idea for something, just make it happen, regardless of how feasible it may seem. Just throw it against the wall and see what sticks. In the end, you might not have a lot of solid ideas, but you definitely have the muscle memory to make more and more. I think for a lot of jobs, you just need to pitch and pitch and pitch, and sure, most of your ideas will be terrible, but at least you’ll be ready to come up with more terrible ideas at a moments notice.
Also try to be nice if you can. This industry is pretty much just stress and rejection and feeling like shit most of the time, so the more kindness you put out there, the better it’ll be for everyone. You just never know what other people are going through.

Do you feel Brooklyn is still a viable place for young people to build a career?
Yes, definitely. There are certainly easier places to live and build careers, but Brooklyn is still doable. It’s exciting because a lot of the industry either works out of New York or Los Angeles, so in a way, you’re physically very close to all these things you’ve dreamed of and all the people that can make your dreams happen. On the other hand, you can’t just knock on their door and say, “Hey what’s up. Me comedian. You help me?” But once you start doing stuff around the city and you see the people you know start to get success, it definitely starts to feel real close and exciting in a way. It is expensive as hell, though. I swear one time I saw agrapefruit that cost $7. Fuck $7 grapefruit. Most of my shows cost $5 to get in. Look, I undercut a grapefruit.
Have you ever felt like leaving your career path?
Yes, probably about once a week. Things will be going well, and then you’ll get rejected from something or see your friends get something you didn’t and the doubt will start to seep in and then you start to think of anything else you could possibly do as a back-up plan and you start to freak out because your resume is all lies and the last 3 jobs you had all had the word “caterer” in them. But then you will still have a show to do 2 hours later where you’ll actually do alright and people say nice things to you and then all the doubt and anxiety will have somehow been lifted, until the next rejection comes… it’s fun. Like a ride at an amusement park when it’s raining and you’re crying and you’ve already peed your pants. Twice.
What’s felt like your biggest professional accomplishment?
Probably getting to work on the first season of The Chris Gethard Show on Fusion. I’ve been a huge fan of Chris Gethard for awhile, and so I felt really honored to be asked to work on his show. It’s a real great show. If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend watching every episode. Especially the one where the studio audience is all dogs.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Probably still in Brooklyn. Definitely a guest-star on multiple Law and Order SVU episodes. Definitely super fit and super sexy. I’m probably married to a robot and neither of us think it’s weird.

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