Awesome Chicago Female Comics You Should Be Following Right Now

By Sebastian Gonzalez de Leon

We asked successful women that have been working in the comedy scene for years what they love about their work as well as the challenges they face. The answers to these questions were both surprising and refreshing. Their stories shed a light on the warmth, wit and hilariousness that each of these women use to grow and be part of the scene and reach their audiences.

We also asked these women about topics they feel need to be brought to light and to share some advice to other women trying to make it in the comedy world.

Thanks to Correy Bell, Adrienne Brandyburg, Erica Nicole Clark, Ashley Renee Clopton, Kellye Howard, Onicia Muller, and Mo Phillips-Spotts for sharing their journey with the writers of Women In Comedy.


Correy Bell

Women In Comedy: What has been the best part of doing comedy?

Correy Bell: The best part about doing comedy is making people laugh. There is no better emotion than laughter. When you can make people smile despite their circumstances [it] is an amazing feeling.

Women In Comedy: What has been an obstacle for you /made you struggle in the world of comedy?

Correy Bell: Being a new black female in comedy is definitely one of the biggest obstacles. You have to outfunny, outwit, outhustle and outgrind everyone else just to get the “oh you’re funny for a female” acknowledgement, lol. You have to fight through the stereotypes every time you get on stage and prove yourself. I love it though.

Women In Comedy: What is your favorite topic to write or perform comedy about?

Correy Bell: Definitely my family. My husband and children provide more than enough material on a daily basis to keep me going on stage for a very long time. There’s NEVER a dull moment in my home.

Women In Comedy: What is a historical fact or a historical figure you would like to talk about or that we should all be paying more attention to? Would you care to explain?

Correy Bell: Good question. Truth be told we should all be keeping our eyes on Mr. President. The things he’s doing and the way that he is currently changing history for women and minorities and the poor and world relations is unprecedented… We can’t just tweet about it or post about it on social media… or joke about it on stage. If we don’t come together real soon and try to get a grip on this whole fiasco, we will be at war with each other and the rest of the world.

Women In Comedy: Is there a message or piece of advice you would like to send to women doing comedy?

Correy Bell: Never ever dim your shine for those who don’t grind as hard as you. Continue to think outside the box, crush the stereotypes and keep being funny!


Adrienne Brandyburg

Women In Comedy: What has been the best part of doing comedy?

Adrienne Brandyburg: Having a variety of people laugh in unison.

Women In Comedy: What has been an obstacle for you /made you struggle in the world of comedy?

Adrienne Brandyburg: Listening to naysayers and not fully believing in myself.

Women In Comedy: What is your favorite topic to write or perform comedy about?

Adrienne Brandyburg: Myself, my parents, petty people.

Women In Comedy: What is a historical fact or a historical figure you would like to talk about or that we should all be paying more attention to? Would you care to explain?

Adrienne Brandyburg: Discuss the Diaspora more. We are all Kings and Queens and we shouldn’t forget about our crowns.

Women In Comedy: Is there a message or piece of advice you would like to send to women doing comedy?

Adrienne Brandyburg: Stay true to your voice and never stop believing in yourself.


Erica Nicole Clark

Women In Comedy: What has been the best part of doing comedy?

Erica Nicole Clark: The freedom to say whatever I want to say on stage.

Women In Comedy: What has been an obstacle for you /made you struggle in the world of comedy?

Erica Nicole Clark: Believing that people would listen and agree with my opinion.

Women In Comedy: What is your favorite topic to write or perform comedy about?

Erica Nicole Clark: Pop Culture.

Women In Comedy: What is a historical fact or a historical figure you would like to talk about or that we should all be paying more attention to? Would you care to explain?

Erica Nicole Clark: Feminism. It’s in the news and it has NOTHING to do with black women.

Women In Comedy: Is there a message or piece of advice you would like to send to women doing comedy?

Erica Nicole Clark: You’re funnier.


Ashley Renee Clopton

Women In Comedy: What has been the best part of doing comedy?

Ashley Renee Clopton: Exploring how far I can push a joke before I lose an audience. Finding social topics and issues and discussing them at length with collaborators for weeks and weeks then finding that sweet spot on stage. I love testing material and ideas as it makes me understand people and the human condition more.

Women In Comedy: What has been an obstacle for you /made you struggle in the world of comedy?

Ashley Renee Clopton: It took some time to realise the most important Chicago comedy institution is me, not a building.

Women In Comedy: What is your favorite topic to write or perform comedy about?

Ashley Renee Clopton: Race relations in 2018. There is so much to explore and I have learned about so many stereotypes and aggressions on this journey to represent all kinds of people in my writing. Being a black woman in America is crazy and I have so much to say about every single part of it as I tell my own story.

Women In Comedy: What is a historical fact or a historical figure you would like to talk about or that we should all be paying more attention to? Would you care to explain?

Ashley Renee Clopton: Big fan of Moms Mabley and Richard Pryor.

Women In Comedy: Is there a message or piece of advice you would like to send to women doing comedy?

Ashley Renee Clopton: Yeah, find whatever makes you have the most fun. After you find that, ask yourself, is this illegal? If it is but still a good move for you, live your life and make that bank. If it’s legal, even easier, now all you gotta do is do it. Most of the time showing up for yourself and your goals is harder than doing the actual thing. It took me years and years to get to this place and the major difference for me has been to get the fuck out of my own way as best I can.


Kellye Howard

Women In Comedy: What has been the best part of doing comedy?

Kellye Howard: Having an outlet to voice my frustrations in life and being able to say ‘I was just joking’ even though I most likely was not. Also traveling all over the world. Meeting new and exciting people and having fans is cool too.

Women In Comedy: What has been an obstacle for you /made you struggle in the world of comedy?

Kellye Howard: “Comparison versus Inspiration” has been the biggest thief of my comedic joy. I hear a lot of women of color express not being able to be themselves on stage, and that I’ve never really had a problem with UNTIL I look at the successes of someone else who I’ve worked with before and start to question my journey based on their outcomes. I know this is irrational thinking as we all have our own paths but at the time it feels very real. This has been such a paralyzing issue over the last 5 years, I’ve had to seriously dig deeper into my soul and learn how to be appreciative of where my journey has lead me and get specific about the things I want to see come of it, not the things I see others do. Now that I’ve become somewhat of a professor in comparison, I’ve uncovered how this really goes back to self-worth, confidence and knowing who you really are and what you really want. I’ve also learned to be inspired by versus compared to those who’s success I admire. I’ve had to learn interdependence and working with the flow of creativity versus against it, which anytime you compare where you are or what you’re doing to someone else’s life or journey, you are stunting your creative growth and self expression. In the last year and a half with mindfulness and meditation, and just focusing on what makes me… ME, I’ve overcome a lot of the comparative behaviors and habits that once left me feeling empty, alone, and worthless. I know now that I am worthy. I am important and my voice matters; and however I choose to use it will resonate with those who need/want to hear it.

Women In Comedy: What is your favorite topic to write or perform comedy about?

Kellye Howard: My life. My husband. My daughters. My husband is always fun to talk about, he’s Asian and that goes against what society expects from me based on how I look and talk, so it’s always fun to talk about our differences and to play into the stereotypical minds of the majority of the audience.

Women In Comedy: What is a historical fact or a historical figure you would like to talk about or that we should all be paying more attention to? Would you care to explain?

Kellye Howard: I think as individual we need to invest our time learning about whatever makes us feel whole and empowered. I wouldn’t call myself a “WOKE” individual but I have spent a lot of time reading and researching black women authors and poets like Nikki Giovanni, Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, and Toni Morrison. I’m just now learning about most of these women at this stage in life. There’s something to be said about little black girls that have been given no frame of reference to the important women of their time. I love Beyonce and Nicki Minaj but I’m talking about women that have literally changed the way black women are viewed on a deeper intellectual level. This is a subject that for sure needs a presence in inner city schools for young black girls who will soon become young black women. How will we send them out into the world? Do we even care?

Women In Comedy: Is there a message or piece of advice you would like to send to women doing comedy?

Kellye Howard: Only compare yourself to the self you were yesterday. How have you grown? How far have you come since then? Worry not about the journey because it will happen whether you are involved or not, focus on being the best version of yourself and everything else will fall into place. I think self-love/worth is numero uno in everything and if you have that, NOTHING can stop you because you know your worthy of all that comes to you! And you are worthy whether you think so today or not!


Onicia Muller

Women In Comedy: What has been the best part of doing comedy?

Onicia Muller: I enjoy expressing my slightly irreverent side. More than going on stage and blabbing for a few minutes, I’m her for being a fangirl of all the women in comedy.

Women In Comedy: What has been an obstacle for you /made you struggle in the world of comedy?

Onicia Muller: I’m an introvert and a morning person. Most shows are at night and as a performer I feel like I give more energy than I receive. Even when it’s a great set. The love comes all at once and then I crash. I cope by spacing out my performances, finding mediums that suit my personality, and remembering to have fun.

Last February, The Daily Herald started publishing my weekly humor column, “Just Being Funny”. JBF is the best because it’s like doing a 5-minute set without leaving home or having up stay up late.

Women In Comedy: What is your favorite topic to write or perform comedy about?

Onicia Muller: Myself. (sheepish smile) As a woman, I feel like I spend so much time being small or silenced. When I get on stage or in my column I love talking all the things my mom tells me to keep inside. I talk about body changes and discoveries, crappy jobs, and bad friends. It’s not bellyaching if I’m sharing a life lesson.

Women In Comedy: What is a historical fact or a historical figure you would like to talk about or that we should all be paying more attention to? Would you care to explain?

Onicia Muller: “In 1994, Nikki Crosby won the first Caribbean Comedy Festival in Trinidad and performed for over 17,000 people.” In the Caribbean, we’re still importing the majority of our comedic entertainment. It’s also still very much male dominated. I’d love for more Caribbean women like TAP and myself to have more opportunities to entertain.

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Women In Comedy: Is there a message or piece of advice you would like to send to women doing comedy?

Onicia Muller: Keep sharing your perspective. I’ve watched almost every comedy special on Netflix and I just love how women in comedy are performing sets that are so diverse in topics. It’s not the same gutter jokes or played out stereotypes.


Mo Phillips-Spotts

Women In Comedy: What has been the best part of doing comedy?

Mo Phillips-Spotts: A good show can brighten any day. Wether is seeing one or performing in one.

Women In Comedy: What has been an obstacle for you /made you struggle in the world of comedy?

Mo Phillips-Spotts: A lack of confidence. My background is in theater and for a long time there didn’t seem to be a place for me. Moving to Chicago, the people I’ve met, the work we’re doing has really lifted me up.

Women In Comedy: What is your favorite topic to write or perform comedy about?

Mo Phillips-Spotts: Probably education/kids. I’ve spent a lot of time working with both and my favorite bits or sketches I’ve been in deal with kids and teaching.

Women In Comedy: What is a historical fact or a historical figure you would like to talk about or that we should all be paying more attention to? Would you care to explain?

Mo Phillips-Spotts: Josephine Baker. I feel like people know who is she is but don’t really know what’s she’s about. I loved her as a kid.

Women In Comedy: Is there a message or piece of advice you would like to send to women doing comedy?

Mo Phillips-Spotts: I’ve got your back! Our voices belong and are needed. Don’t let them stifle you.