A Sit Down With Brooke Van Poppelen

Michael Brummett + Meredith Schneider

This fall, comedian extraordinaire Brooke Van Poppelen released her very first comedy album, entitled Hard Feelings. Almost immediately, that sucker hit #1 on iTunes, and it’s easy to see why. The woman has got more talent in one of her gorgeous eyeballs than most people have in their entire being. The album itself is cynical, observational, and hilarious all wrapped into one.

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Around its release, we actually had the opportunity to speak with Van Poppelen herself about comedic memories, the immense support she has from her friends and family, and all of the Hard Feelings. Check it out!

When did you get your start in on-stage performances?

My legacy of excellence can be traced back to 4th grade in St. John Lutheran School’s production of “Alice in Oz” in which I was given the role of “Magic” which was essentially me throwing props onto stage on cue for Alice from side stage. I was always pretty chafed that I wasn’t given a role that was actually on stage.

How did you get introduced to comedy and writing as a viable career option…if at all?

If at all? They’re both completely viable career options. One just consists of living in your car as you do a string of one nighters across the Midwest and the other allows you to buy a home in Los Angeles. You just have to jump in and start doing one or both and by process of elimination and a lot of success and failure narrow down and hone what your strengths are. Sometimes you choose just one and give it your all. It’s a gamble but can really pay off. I have tried to always do both. These days though I lean more toward writing and television production, acting, hosting but I absolutely love to perform on stage. I’m just not out doing comedy every night like I used to be which can feel weird at times but I’d like to own a home one day so I gotta write.

What kind of support do you get from friends and family?

They love that I’m doing comedy, acting and writing. When I first took off for NYC it was really hard to understand exactly what I was pursuing since I called home crying just about every other day but the first time I appeared on television it gave them hope that I was onto something.

Your debut album came out just a month ago. How long have you been working on it, and what’s been the inspiration to put that effort into it?

Having an album puts you on the map in a lot of ways. You have a farther reach when someone who’s never seen you live can be introduced to a really polished and fun version of your material. I love that my label Sure Thing ATX really puts a lot of care into their recording so that it feels intimate to the listener like you’re in the front row.

I imagine there’s a lot of small venue, joke-by-joke experimentation that goes on. How does a joke go from experiment to a go-to bit?

The key to an experimental bit becoming a successful joke is the ability to remember what you did. A lot of comedians record themselves on their iPhone every time they perform and go back and listen. I am absolutely terrible and undisciplined in that sense. I can honestly say that the few times I’ve done that is has certainly helped me write a better ending or craft a stronger story but the minute anything feels like homework I get a really rebellious attitude toward it. In general I love exploring it in the moment and eventually I will crack it open live on stage but ultimately it takes longer and is probably more painful for audiences to hear my scattered thoughts when I could have just taken an hour to fix it at home. haha. SORRY EVERYBODY.

What has been the most memorable event in the course of your career in comedy thus far?

I’ve had a ton of fun ones for sure. I always have a blast when I perform on Wyatt Cenac’s Night Train in Brooklyn and also taping John Oliver’s New York Stand Up Show at Webster Hall for Comedy Central was such a joyous occasion. I think I love both of these shows so much because you can really throw down with your personal NYC material and the crowd just eats it up and loves the catharsis. Aside from that performing my show Comfort Zone with singer songwriter Julian Velard where we debut original comedic songs has been one of the most terrifying and fulfilling creative endeavors I’ve pursued. He actually performed on my recording with me and we did two original songs during my recording but the space wasn’t set up to capture music so it didn’t make the cut. We are going to record them in a studio and hopefully release it as bonus material.

Which segment on Hard Feelings are you most excited to share with the world?

The entire thing is GOLD!

What’s on your plate, going into 2017?

I’m excited for the world to get to know me better as a writer. I am also going to venture into the world of podcasting. I’m a real Johnny Come Lately in that arena but I’m sure I can find a topic that someone hasn’t already done to death.

Anything else you would like to let our readers know?

Sure. I just found out it’s customary to tip a Clairvoyant 10% after you get a reading done. Who knew?? Well, she did probably.

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Hard Feelings is available now.

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