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.

About Lesley Kilp

Lesley is the founder and editor of What's Up NW. Prior to creating, she was the Seattle city editor for For both publications, Lesley has covered fashion shows, openings, and local charity events.  She has written numerous articles shining the light on local businesses, encouraging readers to always shop local.

View all posts by Lesley Kilp

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