Erin Markey is a mutli-hyphenate, and it’s as tricky to succinctly describe her personality as much as it is to write a quick summary of her work. It’s possibly easiest to describe her with the catch-all term “performance artist,” as her at times esoteric material may seem too lofty and theatrical to be shoehorned into comedy. Take, for example, her recent musical A Ride on the Irish Cream, which saw Markey starring as a wide-eyed young girl named Reagan whose love interest was both a pontoon boat and a horse.
Her theatrical intensity is just her outermost layer, as Markey, like all great comedians, is at heart a brilliant storyteller. Her interdisciplinary approach—combing stand-up, cabaret, and performance art—brings a unique, complex approach to familiar subjects like childhood embarrassments, romantic disappointments, and the long, awkward march toward adulthood. It just so happens that, rather than stick to the conventional set-up of a stand-up routine, Markey offers a perfect cocktail of the wacky, the charming, and the unsettling—often through song.
When was the first time you remember making someone laugh? What happened?
I own some home movie footage of toddler me organizing a Roast of Santa Claus behind his back at a Christmas pageant. I got more and more ambitious as the crowd got more and more into watching one of our nation’s founding fathers get schooled by somebody who was supposed to be bowing down to HIM. I haven’t seen Hamilton yet, but I imagine these performances are in conversation.
What is the toughest part about being on the comedy scene in Brooklyn today? What is the best?
The Worst: UBERPOOL
The Best: Getting to hang with a whole community of people making meta-comedy about being poor artists
Who do you find funny?
Laurie Metcalf, Becca Blackwell, Dina Martina, Lisa Kudrow, Ana Fabrega, Cole Escola, Paula Pell, Bridget Everett, Gerry Visco
What was the last time you laughed so hard you cried?
When I accidentally misunderstood the directions and drank ten times the amount of special Chinese Herbs I was prescribed for psoriasis on the night Hurricane Sandy hit.
What are your goals for your comedy career?
Every three months I have to sign a pyschological evaluation of me written by my therapist and I noticed in the last one that she was no longer using the phrase “big baby” to describe one of the obstacles in the way of my wellness so in some ways, I’ve already reached my comedy career goals? (I’m not kidding.)
What is your favorite knock-knock (or otherwise goofy) joke?
My niece made the best one recently.
Niece: Knock Knock
Me: Who’s There?
Niece covers her whole face with her hands, drops to the floor and yells
Niece: WHERE’S MY EYES????
To see 49 more of Brooklyn’s funniest people, click here.
Photo by Nicolas Maloof.