We had the good fortune of connecting with Mary Upchurch and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mary, how do you think about risk?
I’d rather take a risk and fail than have the regret of doing nothing and wishing I had. As a standup comic who is building her comedy brand, by biggest risks are mostly in my head. The fear of rejection, failure or “bombing” on stage. Internally I yell at myself and say: “So what?! So you bomb? Who cares?! No-one will remember or think about it past this performance” Time, money, and capacity are the most valuable things to me right now. When I decide to visit a new city to network, get spots, or attend a comedy festival. There’s always a fear in the back of my mind, is it worth it? The good news is, it’s always been worth it. Even if I didn’t a great spot or I spent more than I made- which is usually the case. It usually. lead to a new friend, a new contact, or referral.
This has been on my mind. The biggest risk I could take is moving toward doing comedy full time and leaving my day job. I struggle with this often but I know I’m not ready, and my day job really supports my ability to do comedy across the country. So for now, I’ll keep juggling.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’ve always wanted to be a stand up comedian. So much that I didn’t do it for a long time- I was afraid, nervous and I didn’t know how to get started. I had ideas and thoughts I would share with my friends over drinks, they seemed entertained and it was a validation that maybe I could do this. I found a class with a workshop component that helped me get things launched and it grew from there. I grew up in a blended household, youngest of six, an immigrant mother and a military veteran father. I felt it was a unique perspective I could share and people could identify with some part of my story. When an audience connects with me it’s my most favorite thing. I don’t know if it sets me apart from others but I know that it is very special.
My biggest challenge has been getting over insecurity, having the confidence to tell the story I want to tell- put it out there and the people who like me will find it and they’ll like it- and those that don’t like it- they’re not my people… and that’s ok.
I believe one of the keys to my success is to keep going, keep moving forward and creating. I’ve learned that comedy is a business and if you treat it like a business you can have greater control the outcomes. I make sure to work on comedy every day, whether that’s emailing bookers, writing jokes, performing or networking- I make sure I’m doing something each day to move things forward.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love this! In a nutshell, I like to eat, drink, shop, swim, pamper, and laugh- if someone wants to go on a hike, I’m not that girl. However I will do a yoga or a spin class.
Cartel coffee and then mani’s and pedi’s at Buff n’ File in Tempe, time to relax and get pretty.
I love to shop so we’d hit up, Torrid, Old Navy for some fast fashion and cute pieces, maybe a new dress to wear out. (Those are big-box brands, and I’d love to shop more local but as a plus size chick it’s just not possible. I’d love to see more size inclusivity in boutique fashion.)
I live in Downtown Phoenix in the Arts District so in the evening we’d take our new outfits to Killer Whale Sex Club, Smooth Brew, & Arizona Wilderness all on
This perfect week would also include a day at JW Marriott, their spa and lazy river, and then take in a show at House of Comedy on High street (Perfectly across the street from the JW Marriott).
I’m definitely going to take my bestie to Tres Leches Cafe in Phoenix for a Mexican style coffee and then cruise around the Churchill and other downtown shops.
I’m obsessed with the veggie sandwich at Sip Coffee & Beer in Phoenix, I”m always down to run through the drive through at BoSa Donuts. Anyone who visits me from out of town, I take to Little Miss BBQ in Sunnyslope. Hands down the best BBQ and makes me look like a hero.
Lastly, I’d hope the trip would coincide with me working at Stir Crazy Comedy Club at Westgate in Glendale. I love having friends and family in the audience, it’s such a fun place to perform, great club, great vibe. They also have an amazing Salted Carmel Bacon Popcorn!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Hillary Hutson & Broken Drift Productions. Hillary supports comedians and has always encouraged me to do more and to carve my own path.
House of Comedy AZ
Tom Simes & Stir Crazy Comedy Club
Facebook: Mary Upchurch
Youtube: Mary Upchurch
Other: My playlist on Broken Drift Productions YouTube: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLG4kvG9mx2HN4dd60qY-8qT7kZ3SeCgQ1 Here I have fun bits, sketches, cooking videos & more!
Storm Athletic Photography Abigail C. Hall