Shadow My Day as a Stand-Up Comedian (Kat Herskovic) in Chicago

Kat Herskovic | katisthebomb.com | @KatHerskovic 
Hi.  I’m Kat Herskovic and I’m a Chicago based stand up comedian and mom to the two cutest pugs on the planet, Rumple Pugskin and Noogie “You F-ing Little Pain in the Ass” Pinkbelly.  After prematurely quitting my day job, I really have to hustle to pay my bills as I focus on furthering my comedy career.

I’ll do (almost) anything to make a buck - as long as it’s legal!  From working part time for Mayana Chocolate, my brother’s company (shout out!) to selling jokes for a dollar (or more!) on the street, to harassing people to buy my merch after a show, I’ve been pretty fortunate when it comes to money showing up for me when I need it. Still, being a comedian is a constant hustle as I strive to meet my goals.  But when I think about the fact that I actually get to live my dream of being a comedian, I wouldn’t have it any other way!  

 

7:30 am Wakie Wakie!!!  Alarm goes off…. Snooze.  Repeat until the fear of having to clean pug urine out of the carpets sets in.  

8:21 am Poppin’ Pills — I’ve encountered a lot of people who love to point out the irony of the fact that many comedians suffer from anxiety and depression.  Although I believe this to be true for many creative types, I am also no exception.  I do, however, find enormous success in taking an over the counter amino acid called SAMe, or S-Adenosyl methionine which is a precursor to serotonin.  You can read about it here!  I take one first thing every morning and it seems to be the perfect boost that I need to keep me from falling into a slump.  I highly recommend it to anyone suffering from anxiety and depression who doesn’t want to go the pharmaceutical route; but of course, to anyone reading this, please consult your doctor!  

Pug Duty

8:22 am Pug Duty (or is it “doody”?) — Time to walk the little cuties!  Not much to say here, but those little puggies sure are cute, don’t you think!?

 

9:00 am Putting My Yoga Pants To Good Use!  I love sweating it out in my hot yoga class!  And what’s even better is that I don’t have to sweat about finding a way to pay for it since I am part of Core Power Yoga’s Yoga For Trade program!  Basically, I work 3 hours a week doing simple cleaning tasks for the studio in exchange for unlimited yoga for FREE!!!  Those 3 hours of work are easy peasy and well worth the ability to do as many yoga classes as I want without having to worry about finding a way to pay for it all!  I try to go about 5 times a week so it is definitely worth it!

11:00 am Time to Work! — Back home and squeaky clean, it’s time to sit down at my desk, AKA kitchen table, and focus!  I usually start by free writing/journaling), just to get out whatever is on my mind, especially if I have nothing in particular joke wise that I am in the mood to work on in that moment.  This allows me to let things bubble up to the surface until something takes that I can run with, or I feel like I want to move on to something more focused.    

I usually prefer to work on jokes in my notebook as opposed to on the computer.  I just like the way it feels to put a pen to paper.  And not just any pen and paper, by the way!  I’m very particular about my Pentel RSVP Medium Point Multi-Colored Pens and Moleskin Extra Large Notebooks - unruled, as not to be confined by the lines, maaaan! I also LOVE to write to my main man John Coltrane - usually starting with “Giant Steps”. He just makes me feel so inspired!  

12:00 pm Doing The Tighten UP — Next, I move on to either working on fleshing out new joke ideas, tightening up bits that aren’t quite there yet, or re-working my one woman show which I am currently in the process of doing. 

Ideally, every day I will come up with at least new one thing to try on stage. Sometimes a joke will come easy and just pop in my head requiring little to no manipulation, and sometimes I can write pages and pages about a subject just to squeeze out a 15-second one-liner.  (All well worth it, of course!)  I’ve even had instances where a joke sits on the back burner for months, or even for a year or more while I randomly work on it here and there until suddenly it clicks, as was the case for one of my best closers!

I like to approach joke writing similar to how I would approach a math problem.  Often you already have all the components there, and you just have to manipulate them until you find the right answer.  I’m also a firm believer in “trimming the fat” of a joke by saying it in as few words as possible while still providing enough information so they get the joke.  
I have a motto:  “Say it without saying it.”  That is, while I don’t want to be too vague in the set-up of a joke, I also don’t want to spell it out for them. A good example is the following joke, which is a true story about how I spaced out during a conversation with a friend and said the wrong thing:

 “A friend of mine recently lost a loved one tragically …." And when I found out how it happened, I said, “YOU HAVE A POOL!?!?”

See?  Instead of saying “I can be so spacey sometimes!”, it is all implied in the presentation of the joke! [Also, please note that the friend in this joke was talking about his dog; so while still insensitive, I’m not a complete heartless bastard]

 

2:00 pm Taking Care of Business  I am a huge fan of to-do lists!  Not only do I LOVE the feeling of crossing things off my list, but it also keeps me focused and makes things seem less overwhelming.  This is when I do business type things like sending out emails, reaching out to bookers, and updating my website and social media (which I am trying to be better about).   These are usually not my favorite things to do, but they are necessary and I feel accomplished and productive when I’m able to attack much of what is on my list.  

This is also a time when I think about my goals and what steps I need to take in order to reach them.  

4:00 pm Pug Walking Take Two  Gotta tire those little monsters out so they stay out of trouble!  

4:30 pm Time To Chillax  Now it’s time to finally relax with the pugs before heading off to my gig.  

6:00 pm Getting Ready For My Close Up (or far away) — I rarely wear make-up or dress up during the day, but I love to get all fancied up for shows!  How I dress is part of my self-expression and how I market myself as an artist.  I would say that my style reflects my comedy in that in both cases, I like to offer a unique perspective.  My jokes and outfits are well thought out while also trying to maintain a playful essence.  I like to take chances with things that are out of the ordinary; and, although none of my jokes are second hand, I often shop at thrift stores.  

Also, I might mention, I have worked many years in the apparel and accessories industries, picking up many skills when it comes to making my own clothing; so much of what I wear on stage is my own creation as well!

7:00 pm Time To Hit The Road, Jack! — Black Betty (my car) and I are off to the show!
Because I did not want to be too far from my puggies while working at my previous job, I currently live in the suburbs of Chicago; so driving to and from shows can be a real pain!  It can take anywhere from 1 t0 2 hours to drive to a show in the city so I make good use of that time by listening to audio books!  I really love nonfiction on subjects ranging from autobiographies to the science of brain function to self-improvement and more!  It’s great because I can multi-task and learn new things while sitting in traffic.  And believe you me, I LOVE a good self-help book!  

Right now I am listening to “Psycho-Cybernetics” by Maxwell Maltz which is about understanding our self-perceptions while altering them by establishing good habits in order to reach our goals.  I highly recommend this book!  

8:30 pm Now, We Wait — I prefer to get to a show 30 minutes before it starts in order to absorb my surroundings and plan out my set.  It always depends on my mood and the vibe of the venue and audience and I try to pick jokes that suit all of the above.  I am also very particular about the order of my jokes, having one flow nicely into the other.  

Another reason I like to get to get to a show early is to hang out with other comics.  I’ve always felt a strong sense of community and camaraderie amongst comedians and there’s nothing like hanging out and riffing with a bunch of awesome, funny people!

9:oo pm Showtime!!! — This is what makes it all worth it!  Being able to stand on stage and feed off the energy of the audience while giving the gift of laughter is the greatest feeling in the world!  I know it sounds cheesy but I absolutely love making people laugh! When someone is laughing, in that moment, they are feeling nothing but pure joy, and I’m so glad that I get to do that on a regular basis!

My biggest crutch is that I write my set list on my hand because I don’t want to forget the order.  Although I am becoming better about this habit, I do tend to look at my hand just because it’s there.  I try to disguise this in the way that I hold the microphone so I don’t have to make any obvious movements in order to see what is written. 

10:30 pm Time To Hustle — A big part of how I supplement my income is by selling my merch, and let me tell you, I am the merch queen of the comedy world!  I have T-shirts, TONS of buttons that I designed myself, AND I put my jewelry making skills to good use by making cute, kitchy rings, broaches and hair accessories with my designs on them as well.  


If I wanna make a few bucks, however, I can’t just stand there at the merch table and expect people to come up to me.  I really have to put myself out there and while being careful not to be too pushy, I try to ask as many people as possible to check out the variety of options I have available!  Luckily I have a very sweet disposition so people just LOVE to give me money!

BTW, whenever I sell merch (or jokes on the street), I ALWAYS tell them the price and add “or more” to the end.  For example, buttons are $2 OR MORE!  I mean, why limit yourself???  If they want to give me more, by all means, I’m going to give them that option!

11:00 pm We’re Goin’ Home  Ready to head home for the evening!  Luckily, it usually only takes about 45 minutes to get home without traffic so the way home is way quicker.  Since I’m still pumped up with adrenaline, audio books will most likely have to take a back seat while I crank up the jams for the ride home.  

12:00 pm Speak Now Or Forever Hold Your Pee (or at least until morning) — Last bathroom break for the pugs before we tuck ourselves in and head off to schluffy land!

12:15 am Goodnight!!!