“The Set” with Emily Heller



Emily Heller is a talented, young, up and coming writer and comedian. She’s been working clubs and touring colleges across the country; she’s performed twice on Conan, and recently did her first appearance on @midnight. She’s also a writer for FOX television’s series “Surviving Jack” and has created her own web series, “The Future” which has featured some impressive guests like Reggie Watts, John Mulaney, and Janeane Garofalo to name a few.  Her podcast, Baby Geniuses also features a long list of great talent.  Both Variety and Comedy Central have called her one of today’s young comedian’s to watch out for, and this week she’ll be headlining in Los Angeles.  With all that she has going on, we were excited to be able to talk to her about her upcoming show, her podcast, and her love for comedy.

Go see her this Tuesday , May 27th at NerdMelt Theater at 9pm. It’s only 5 dollars to get in, and you’ll see Emily along with several of her comedy friends performing. It’s going to be a great night, and you’ll have the opportunity to see a young rising comedy star early on in what’s promising to be a great career.



The IBang:  So I just saw you on @midnight, you were so funny. That is one hilarious show… What is that like? With the live audience does that create a whole different level?

Emily Heller: It is very fun, it is a great show to be on, as a comedian. It’s definitely a lot of riffing and Chris Hardwick is so quick with his jokes.  It’s so fun with the live audience. It really puts comedians in their natural element of trying to make a room full of people laugh. It’s the same energy that doing stand up has, but with a bunch of your friends.  I made a joke on the show about Star Wars being boring and my twitter blew up with Nerd Rage.

The IBang:  You were recently on Conan again, that’s got to be amazing.

Emily Heller:  Yeah that was really fun. It was definitely a little less nerve wracking than the first time but still nerve wracking. With @midnight, you know the audience is there because they love comedy. But with Conan, you don’t know if they are there because they’re a fan of the first guest. You just never know if you’re going to get to connect, but I feel like I got pretty lucky with both of them.

babygeniusesThe IBang: You do a podcast with Lisa Hanawalt called Baby Geniuses.  How did you and Lisa get together?

Emily Heller:   I was a fan of Lisa’s for a long time before i met her. I was really into alternative comics for awhile and someone had recommended her book to me, and I just thought it was so funny.  Her boyfriend is a comedian, so I ended up meeting him through the comedy scene. And I guess when he added me on Facebook, I was like oh my god your girlfriend is Lisa Hanawalt? I told him that I’m such a big fan of hers and I made him introduce me at some comedy party– which, I’m sure in retrospect, she was pretty happy about because when comedians bring their girlfriends to comedy parties people are so rude to them. I was just like, ‘no, you’re the only person I want to talk to here.’   I eventually made her be my friend, and I knew when I moved to New York that I wanted to start podcasting again. I had been doing a podcast in San Francisco with my friend Marchello, who is also not a comedian. And I really liked that dynamic. I’ve come to the feeling that when two comedians are doing a podcast together, and another comedian comes on, it can turn into shop talk really quickly. They just know each other too well, where you don’t draw out interesting things from people.    When I hosted the podcast with Marchello I liked the fact that he was not involved in ‘the world’ in any way and approached meeting guests in a completely different way. And so I was looking for someone who was funny but was not a stand up comedian to do a podcast with. And we kind of just started talking about it one time when we were hanging out and then we were like, well yeah, we should totally do it.

The IBang:   Not many people have segments the way you do.  There is a set flow to the show that really works, with certain segments in each podcasts, like “Ask Me Ask You”  and “Wiki of the Week” and  “Expert Hour”. 

Emily Heller:  We sort of hashed it out, the things that demarcate it, because it can get so meandering, and I like doing that.

The IBang:  Can you talk about the concept behind The Expert Hour?

Emily Heller:  Well, I’m a huge fan of Comedy Bang Bang, and my favorite part is always when they have characters on, so i kind of knew that I wanted to do something like that.  I don’t think of myself as a great improviser and the podcast has definitely helped me get better at it, but I knew that if i wanted to do the characters thing, it had to have a very clear structure. And so I don’t remember how we came up with that, but yeah, we were like, we want characters on the podcast, and we wanted it to be a very clear segment about why they’re there, and what we’re going to talk to them about.

The IBang: So do you come up with the topics? or do they? or how does that work?

Emily Heller:  Usually we will tell them what the segment is, and then we ask them what they want to do. We encourage them to do characters that they’ve done before, because we find that to be better.   Our first expert was Vacation Jason. It was just a character that my friend Riley [Soloner] had done for a long time. And so I kind of knew that this would be the perfect first expert hour because we didn’t know how the thing was going to work yet.  But I knew that he already knew how to be that character, and that character did have a very clear expertise. So yeah, we had like a topic that we tell them and  when new experts are coming on we’ll send them a list of everything that anyone did an “expert” on already so that they know  That list itself is really  fun to read.  It will be like, The Beatles….The Ocean….Revenge….it’s all over the place.

The IBang:  I love your theme music and your rejoinders. They’re so good. Where did they come from?

Emily Heller:  My brother made all of those, he’s very talented. If anyone wants theme music, he’s totally open to making it for you. It’s him singing, he did all of the music for it.

The IBang:  An Evening with Emily Heller at NerdMelt Theater is coming up this Tuesday. What can we expect?

Emily Heller:  Oh I’m so excited about this, its’ going to be really fun. I’m going to be doing a headlining set, which is something i’ve been doing more and more in the last year at colleges and clubs. I kind of just started doing this year and I feel like I’m in a good place with that right now.  I’m really excited to perform in LA for people I know. I haven’t done a long set in Los Angeles yet, so I feel like this is the first chance i’ve gotten to show people here what I can really do. Because, you know when I lived in San Francisco I got the opportunity to do that a fair amount before I was even ready to. And plugged in on the road a little bit more.  And then I have some of my favorite comedians opening for me, who are all very different. Chris Garcia is hosting and he’s one of my oldest friends in comedy, super funny and weird and high energy.  Donny Divanian who I actually started doing comedy with, he and I would drive up for open mics in San Francisco from Santa Cruz together.   He’s so funny and so strange. He’s someone who I have no doubt is going to be a huge star. And then Nicole Byer who is someone who I met very recently, and she and I did a college show together, that she was nervous about, she’ was like, “I haven’t really done stand up that much, I don’t really have, I don’t know how this is going to go” and then she just destroyed.   It’s one of those things where I was like, this is so annoying!  But she’s so great, and yeah, so that’s kind of my ideal line up.  I’m really excited to do it. I’m hoping people come out because I think its going to be a start to finish amazing show. Tell people to come!

 emilysquareGet caught up on everything Emily:

Follow Emily on Tumblr
Read Emily’s comedy blog, “Suck My Dick New Yorker”
Follow Emily on Twitter
Watch Emily’s recent Conan set on YouTube
Listen to Emily’s Baby Geniuses Podcast




Read more great interviews from our ongoing series “The Set” including Jimmy Shubert, Kevin Allison, Greg Fitzsimmons, Jimmy Pardo, Doug Benson and more.

RJ Waldron
RJ Waldron
Desert dweller searching for the next rain. Extremely fond of laughter and Murphylove.