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October 19, 2016

Meet Kenice Mobley!
by Katie Conway - 0

Kenice Mobley is an up-and-coming young comedian and filmmaker. She's performed at the Women in Comedy Festival, produced and co-wrote the 12 part webseries Allston Xmas, and last weekend she opened for W. Kamau Bell at the Wilbur Theater! Read on to discover her journey from film school to stand-up, what she’s working on now, and what advice she has for other comedians. 

WICF: You went to film school. How did you get into comedy?

KM: I went to film school because I loved movies. Growing up, my family went to the movies together every week, and I think it's an amazing way to tell stories. In grad school, and after, I liked comedy for the same reasons. I really enjoyed getting other perspectives, and started listening to comedy non-stop. After a while, I started writing down ideas I had or jokes that I thought the comedians I liked should have said. Since then I've been getting up, and often I get to use the storytelling skills I learned in grad school.

WICF: Who are some of your favorite comedians working today?

KM: Right now, I am really digging Naomi Ekperigin, Michelle Buteau, Tommy Johnagin, Andrew Shulz, Gary Gulman, and Chelsea Peretti. Any time I need inspiration, I listen to John Mulaney, Bill Burr and Greg Giraldo. I feel lucky to live in a city where I get to see great standups all the time, so in my favorites, I also would have to list Al Park, Dan Boulger, Kelly MacFarland and Sean Sullivan.

WICF: How did film school and working in film production affect and/or help your comedy?

KM: If you're poor, film school teaches you to be very economical. We shot on film, and you have to make every bit of every frame communicate your story. I try to be tight like that in my comedy. If 3 words will do, don't say 5, you're wasting time. Film school also taught me to play around with everything from volume to pacing, so I try to experiment with that as much as possible. 

WICF: Can you tell us about some of your upcoming performances and projects?

KM: I am really excited about some of the shows I have coming up. On Saturday, I will be opening for W. Kamau Bell at the Wilbur Theater. I've always wanted to perform there, and feel really lucky to have the chance. On Monday, I will be performing at Laugh Boston. They're doing a taping for the Fox show Laughs, and some of Boston's best comedians will be on the show. Currently, I'm working on two comedy web series, both due out at the beginning of the year.

WICF: Can you tell us about opening up for W. Kamau at the Wilbur this past Saturday? How did that come about? What was it like?

KM: I was lucky to open for Kamau last year when he performed at ImprovBoston. I have been working with IB for years and they were putting together a show kind of last minute and thought I would be a good fit. During that show we got to talk a little and connected on social media. Based on that show, he reached out to me via Twitter about opening for him at the Wilbur. 
The Wilbur is the largest venue I have performed in, so I wanted to know what to expect. Fortunately, I've been able to attend several shows there, so I had an idea of the space. I also reached out to people who had performed there in the past; they were really supportive and gave me some great suggestions. They let me know that with an audience that size, you should slow down a little and make sure to look into the balcony to connect with the people there too.
The staff and crew of the Wilbur were professional and nice. I was surprised at how little they needed from me. I got to relax in the green room, walk on stage and do my jokes. The audience was really receptive and I received a lot of really nice feedback after the show. It was a great opportunity that I really appreciate and I hope I'll get a chance to perform there again in the future.

WICF: Any advice for other people trying to break into comedy? 

KM: I feel like I'm still early in the process of getting into standup comedy. The people I look up to have been doing it for way longer than I have. The people I have seen become successful seem to be the ones who really like the process of comedy, the people who don't mind going to show after show, refining bits, trying out material and writing new things. It helps to have a unique perspective. It helps to make friends with people you think are funny. It also helps to ask people further along than you for advice if you're not sure about a show or a gig. When you first start, you're not going to be great and you won't really know what you're doing. You don't have to. Don't act like you know it all to compensate. Be nice to people, because the people you're meeting now will be on TV in few years. Be nice to people because comedy is a community and you'll know a lot of these people in 3 years, why make enemies? News about jerks travels pretty quickly. There's going to be gossip, but if you can help it, don't be known as a gossip. After you've gotten a lay of the land, it helps to contribute to the scene, so host a show or create a good show. That's really helpful in understanding why people book a certain way or how lineups are created. Listen to a lot of comedy and develop good taste. See what's already been done so you're not spinning your wheels doing bits that people have done a thousand times. Finally, have fun. Enjoy yourself, because you're going to spend hours at shows to go on stage for 5 minutes while no one listens to you. If you can't find something you like in that experience, then it will be hard to stick with it long enough to become good.

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