HEL brings stand-up comedian Ashley Gavin to campus

Over the last few weeks, student organizations have brought some well-known and amusing comedians to Vassar, all of whom have brought their own unique experiences and work to showcase. To continue with the trend, on May 3, New York-based comedian Ashley Gavin will be performing in Taylor Hall 102 courtesy of HEL.

In a statement to The Miscellany News, HEL explained why they are bringing Gavin to Vassar: “We wanted to bring Ashley Gavin to campus because she is really funny, and as a group we really enjoyed her stand up. We really enjoy that her comedy doesn’t have to pull other people down to be funny. Her comedy stems from sharing about herself and being relatable rather than targeting others.”

I was fortunate enough to be able to interview Ashley Gavin earlier this week to discuss everything from her life to her comedy style and more.

For those unfamiliar with her comedy or background, Ashley is a comedian based in New York and while Gavin has been a performer all her life, comedy was not her initial career choice. Speaking to her irregular career path in comedy, Gavin said, “I found engineering, which is what I did for a very long time; I was a software engineer and I found that you could be really creative doing that. But I got about one year into my post-college job as an engineer and while it was a really wonderful place to work, I wanted to, like, die. I was so miserable.”

After quitting this job, she moved back to New York to pursue what she wanted to do the most: make people laugh. She tried many different avenues of comedy including improv and even writing a comedic musical until coming upon stand-up. Gavin explained, “Then I did my first open mic, and then I was like, ‘Oh, oh, this forever.’ The first open mic I was like, ‘Oh, this is done.’ Like I think it’s hard for creatives to find their medium because they can be good at a lot of things, or at least okay at a lot of things. But once I did the open mic I was like, ‘I gotta do this every day.’”

Since then, Ashley Gavin has performed stand-up across the United States at various festivals like Carolines and on TV programs like “Laughs” on FOX and Gotham Comedy Live.

None of these successes were a product of luck, however. While being funny is an integral part of the process, Gavin highlighted the importance of the business side of comedy in our interview, adding, “The philosophy I’ve taken is that you need to create volume; luck is opportunity meets preparation. So getting good at the craft is your preparation and also having a resume and headshots and a website, stuff like that. And everyone’s like, ‘Well I don’t need it,’ and then all of a sudden you need it.”

She went on further to say, “No angel is going to come down and be like ‘Oh by the way, tomorrow you’re going to meet a manager and you better have all your shit together.’”

In conjunction with incredible writing skills and drive, Ashley Gavin has achieved a great deal of success within a short amount of time, and her Vassar show is coming at a moment when she is gaining much deserved popularity. Conversely, performing at colleges provides Gavin with the opportunity to try new jokes on a younger audience.

One of the products of all her hard work is the honest and relatable social commentary she is able to cultivate in her stand-up. One topic that does not necessarily define but rather permeates Gavin’s comedy time and again is her identity.

She commented on that aspect of her work, saying, “It’s hard for me to get up onstage and not address the fact that I’m gay. Because a lot of people are sitting in the audience being like, ‘Is she gay?’ So if I don’t say it, they just can’t stop thinking about it. And then I realized, ‘Oh, I have a lot of feelings surrounding this.’ My identity is a huge source of emotional fodder for me, so it is good inspiration to write about.”

With an industry as male-dominated as the entertainment business, Ashley Gavin provides a perspective that can go unheard by many audiences. In the current political climate, giving voice to performers such as Ashley is more important than ever, and I for one am glad that Vassar is breeding an inclusive environment on campus for comedy. Ashley Gavin’s performance next Wednesday will prove to be a nice way to end the semester and I would highly recommend going.

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