We had the good fortune of connecting with Crickette Gill and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Crickette, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I had always wanted to do something independent of a basic 9 to 5. I tried so many different things – launched a t-shirt company called AlligatorCigs Apparel in 2017, wrote a book (Uncle: The Dark Family Secrete (2016)), started a publishing company (published a second book called Gay, God and Grace by Antoinette Pralour), started doing cannabis strain reviews on YouTube, launched the Chatterbox w/Crickette radio show, and the YouTube version, and I started making handcrafted Pandora Boxes for cannabis users. I tried everything I could think of.
Comedy was the last thing on my mind.
Then I was laid off from my job in 2019, and our savings quickly drained and we ended up losing our home. Depression was at an all time high and I even contemplated suicide. Then one night I went to a comedy stoner birthday roast for a local influencer named Purple in 2019. When they opened up the floor for friends of Purple to get up and say something, I decided what the hell I’ll do it. I got a few laughs and afterwards Phoenix-based comedian and improv artist Dana Whissen came up to me and asked if I was a comedian, I told her no, and she replied “you should try it”. It stayed on mind the entire night
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Tragedy and trauma make good comedy.
At one point my family was living in a seedy, extended stay hotel. Three people – 2 beds, one room, two cats, and 17 geckos. Oh the drug deals, the swat teams, the homeless guys in the stairwells….it was a beauty – we went everywhere in pairs.
What better time to start doing stand up than while sharing a bed with your teenaged son right?
Besides, I was struggling to hold on to AlligatorCigs Apparel, and I thought standing up in front of an audience telling jokes (or trying to) was a good way to get my t-shirts seen by a lot of folks. I mean at that point I figured, hey what do I have to lose?
I got my first stand up gig through Phoenix-based comedian Paul Arnold way out in Apache Junction at an abandoned racehorse track somewhere around June 2019. I think about 7 people came and 3 of them were the bartenders so they had to be there. It was a life changing experience for me because standup comedy is way outside my comfort zone.
I think comedy is subjective, what works for one person may not work for the other . You can think you are going to go out there and have a great set and bomb mercilessly.
Reading the room is still on my checklist of things to learn too. It takes practice. And I am still growing into my stage persona.
So I decided if I’m going to do this, I want to have some idea of what I’m doing. So, I went out and bought a bunch of comedy books, started watching stuff online, and reading articles about the craft. I studied the comedians I knew from my past that I had the privilege of watching grow from the humblest beginnings to where they are now – some are stars now and some still hold down day jobs like me.
I signed up for comedy classes here in the valley with instructor and comedian Tony Vicich, taking classes from my car in the parking lot via Zoom. It was a smart move on my behalf because feedback from experienced professionals is invaluable.
I’d say the most valuable thing I’ve learned so far is – be flexible and be open to new opportunities. I also learned that you don’t have a lot of space for negativity.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
As a Chicago native I am still trying to learn where to go myself! So I’d probably start with breakfast at my favorite spot – Butterfields in Scottsdale. I always get questions about where to find authentic Southwestern food so I’d take them to Los Dos Molinos for some spicy Southwestern food. Ha ha you guys stumped me here because I’m a fast food girl – I know, terrible – so Filiberto’s is definitely on the menu somewhere.
For drinks I love the breweries here so we definitely have to go to Four Peaks in Tempe. We’d also hit the bars at Westbrook, I love that area and always have a lot of fun up there.
Of course, we’ll have to check out some of the comedy venues!!
And, if it’s raining, we’ll go to the zoo – trust me, it’s a different experience in a light rain with a Starbucks Mocha “spiked” with Baileys in your hand!
One of those days will have to be spent out driving around looking at the beautiful state of Arizona. We’ll take a day trip to the Grand Canyon, or the Sunset Crater volcano and Painted Desert, or Sedona and the Buddhist park. I love going on nature drives and I love to share that experience with others.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I definitely want to send a shoutout to Dana Whissen – thank you for that one final nudge to get my butt out there and try something different. And I also want to shout out Paul Arnold for giving me my first comedy gig at that abandoned racehorse track!
I also want to acknowledge some folks who have supported me locally – in particular Bex, Kimberly Flook and my main man Zach! Thanks for coming out to my shows, I truly appreciate you both! And thank you to everyone else who supports me from afar.
I also want to send a shoutout to some other comedians in Phoenix who I have formed a special bond with. In no particular order – Naeem Elliot, Tara T, David Sanchez, Darron Finesilver, Taco!!, Lady Q, and Mz Quota. I also want to acknowledge some of the promoters who give folks like us a platform to hone our craft – Lamar Mitchell Jr., Bobby Johnson, Rob Green, Jim Perry and Tony Vicich, David Specht, Jesse Evers, Patrick Aiken, Bellie B, Big Baby, Eric Bernal, Kris, Austin, Ashley Rose & Tara Shakespeare – most of these guys also double as comedians!
Thank you for being such a patient instructor!! And we gotta shoutout the amazing comedy venues we have in town – Tempe Improv, Stand Up Live, CB Live Desert Ridge, JPs Comedy Club (owned by comedian Jim Perry), Improvmania (owned by comedian and improv artist Dave Specht), House of Comedy AZ, and Stir Crazy Comedy Club – all great venues you should check out!
Andy Rodriguez Christopher Jimenez Rutherford Photography