10 Questions: Amber North
An interview with the host of Grrrls Nite Out and Wake Up!
Stand-up comic Amber North is a Nashville native, local and regional favorite, and sardonic superstar of the Atlanta comedy scene.
1. What no-longer-available food do you miss the most?
There was this really yummy chili place called Petro’s inside my favorite mall growing up in Nashville. They sold this yummy chili dish topped with Frito’s, tomatoes, onions, cheese, sour cream, hot sauce and jalapenoes. It was like a “fancy” version of Frito pies (where you simply eat chili and Frito’s out the bag).
I always looked forward to eating there whenever we went to the mall. It was always delicious. One day, about seven years ago, I visited home and was craving a bowl. Found out the hard way that the space was shut down. I was super bummed.
I recently discovered that its headquarter is in Knoxville, and that there are plenty of them there. But I don’t miss it that bad.
2. What’s your process from idea to fully formed joke or set? Do you take notes? How do you know when a joke is “done?”
A lot of my jokes derive from real life situations. I outline what would be the best way to deliver: as a funny anecdote or a joke?
I went to school for journalism, so I still use the same formula for telling a funny story like when I write articles: write down all my ideas without worrying about structure (very rough draft), then read out what I have and then start editing.
For jokes, I do take notes. A lot of my jokes were spawned from conversing with friends, and I’ll say something that clicks, and my friends would urge me to write it down or record it immediately so I won’t forget it. I keep a mini notebook on me for that reason.
I know a joke is done when I stop feeling passionate about delivering it. Another indicator is trying out the same joke on different audiences and it falls flat each time.
3. If someone is distracted at the left turn green arrow, do you immediately honk or do you give them time to realize?
This answer is pure hypothesis because I don’t drive (and do a very terrible job whenever I do) a car, but in this situation I would probably wait to give them just a few seconds to realize, because there could be a good reason why they’re distracted. There’s so much road rage in Atlanta, so I’d hate to add to that.
4. Do you incorporate your personal life into your creative process, or do you prefer to keep some distance between the two?
Yes, most of my material is based on real events that has happened to me. That is what drove me to do comedy — too much zaniness in my life to not share. Still, I definitely separate my stage persona from who I am as a person.
5. What do you think is most distinctive about your voice or point of view in your comedy?
I tend to throw people off with my deadpan sense of humor. Also, I’m very matter-of-fact about super outrageous things. For instance, I’m known as a “woke comic,” which means I try to dismantle racism, homo- and transphobia, xenophobia, white supremacy and other fun ways of bigotry with my comedy.
6. When was the last time you had a memorable night in an unfamiliar city?
I went to Charlotte for the first time in May and it was super fun! The folks at the local comedy venue set us up in a nice condo for traveling comics and we got to spend the night getting to know the city. I will definitely return!
7. What’s your “one rule?”
Never make someone’s plight a punchline.
8. What item would you take with you into the next life and why?
My journal because writing in one for the the last 25 years has kept me very sane.
9. Have you ever had an idea or joke appear in your mind fully-formed with no need to develop it?
Yes and it’s always a blessing when that happens — a real “Eureka” moment! Usually the already-developed ideas are from an experience, but then there are those jokes that as soon as I say it, I know it’s a winner and I start to include it in regular set rotations.
10. When was the last time something happened to you that genuinely surprised you?
Waking up to news on November 9, 2017.
SEPTEMBER 23, 2017: East Atlanta Strut, 6 p.m., EAV, free
SEPTEMBER 27, 2017: M&M: We’re Convincing an Omnipotent Dragon to Fight for Good, 9 p.m. on 9to5.tv
SEPTEMBER 29, 2017: Cabbage Patch, 9 p.m. at Milltown Arms Tavern, free
SEPTEMBER 29, 2017: Comedy Runway, 10:30 p.m. at Relapse Theatre