Interview: IC comedian Megan Gogerty on her stand-up roots and her experience working with comedy icon Louie Anderson

Megan Gogerty teaches a stand-up comedy class at the University of Iowa. - photo by Adam Burke
Megan Gogerty teaches a stand-up comedy class at the University of Iowa. — photo by Adam Burke

Green Gravel Comedy Festival’s second annual fest kicks off tonight with an improv workshop led by Chris Trew. The fest will features comedians like Brandie Posey, Eddie Pepitone and Josh Androsky performing at various venues around downtown and the north side. Joining them are comedians from all around the Midwest and Iowa City, including Megan Gogerty, Iowa City resident and professor of dramatic literature and dramaturgy at the University of Iowa.

Iowa City comedian Megan Gogerty will be performing stand-up comedy at Riverside Theatre this Saturday, Feb. 28 at 9:30 p.m. during Eddie Pepitone’s Bloodbath. In addition, she’ll be releasing her third full-length solo performance, Housebroken, this April.

Quite a feat for someone who otherwise busy teaching lit and drama courses at the University of Iowa. Despite the workload, Gogerty has had an impressive year, even going so far as to open for comedian Louie Anderson.

The Englert Theatre approached Gogerty to open for Louie Anderson when he visited IC in Sept — an opportunity that would prove to be fruitful for the budding comedian. Anderson was delighted with Gogerty’s performance, and even invited her to open for him at the Plaza in Las Vegas this past January.

“He pegged me right away!” she said. “He didn’t even see me, just heard me while he was getting ready, but that’s how much he knows about comedy. I think that [with] real professional comics, there will be people who are jerks, but the ones who are successful are kind and generous souls and want to help one another.”

Gogerty first began dabbling in stand-up comedy during her 20s at open mics in Chicago clubs.

“It was this period in my life where I was trying everything, and that’s what was great about your early 20s in Chicago. You’re like, I don’t know, maybe I wanna join a honky-tonk band for a while and see how I like that,” Gogerty said.

Even though she loved performing, it wasn’t all great. When she began her foray into stand-up during the 1990s, Gogerty says she felt isolated going to open mics and being the only female performer on almost every occasion. She recalls being afraid to approach other comics and feeling lost amid the comedy landscape at the time.

“I realize in hindsight that we were all afraid of each other, and we all thought it was the other person’s job to say hi. But at the time it was really difficult to navigate and it became kind of a drag,” she said.

She says one of the things that can hold women back from performing is the way females are socialized to seek consensus, but getting past these hangups is a powerful thing. She thinks performing and comedy is really empowering, especially for women. Gogerty says millennials often don’t have the same hang-ups about female comics as older generations might and she feels really optimistic about the future females of comedy.

However, over the years, Gogerty says things are improving for female comedians, albeit slightly.

“I’ve noticed just in the past, like, three years this huge scene change,” she said. “Now I’ll go to open mics and there will be 10 comics there, and like, three of them will be women. That’s a 300 percent increase from when I started! I think this is the best time to be in comedy.”

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More recently, Gogerty hosted the debut performance of feminist troupe, The Canaries, at The Mill to raise funds for Planned Parenthood Voters of Iowa PAC. The evening featured totally feminist dance, comedy, burlesque and storytelling performances by experienced and professional artists.

Gogerty says collaboration is one of her favorite aspects of the area’s comedy community.

She’s able to share her talents through her stand-up comedy practicum course she’s teaching this semester at the UI. Gogerty says she likes to see her female students rise to the challenge of stand-up comedy, which she says is simply telling the truth. She hopes performing will give them a truly empowering experience.

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