Interview by Gabriella Giarrano. Photos by Jacki Schklar.
When I first saw Atlanta comedienne Karen Hilton perform, it was like having a feather thrown at you after being pelted with rocks; surprising and a breath of fresh air amidst the many louder more in your face comics. Her style is effortless and easy, and that’s probably because her attitude is the same.
G:Your brand of stand-up is a quiet humor – some may even call you the Eeyore of comedy; more monotone and yet always true. If you had to describe your style in 3 words, what would they be?
K: Please listen close.
People that introduce me sometimes will say, “This next girl, she’s really funny, but you do need to listen.” Some people have said that they notice I don’t change the way I speak when I’m on stage. I don’t go out with a motive, I just kind of say it the way that it is in my head. I don’t know how to dress it up, I don’t know how to make it louder. I am exactly what you see. The way that I’m talking to you right now is the way that I’m talking on stage. I feel like, people listen when I talk to them like that, why wouldn’t they listen when I’m on stage?
G:When and how did you get started in stand-up?
K: When I was a kid, the HA network (now Comedy Central) would play stand-up all the time. I couldn’t get enough, and if I thought something was funny I would write it down, I would write it on a loose piece of paper, a napkin, a piece of trash, whatever. My mom was cleaning the house one day and she said, “Do you want all this stuff, “ and I said, “Don’t touch that!” That’s when I realized I needed to put them together, and I ended up filling an entire notebook. I was so anal about it; I used to write the comedians name, the day I heard. I had a very serious filing system.
But I never wished on a star, and thought, that’s where I need to be, I need to be on stage. I liked to watch, I like the feeling and experience of watching and not knowing what’s going to happen, you don’t get that same experience when you’re performing. Everyone kept telling me I needed to get on-stage. I just kept thinking, based on what? That I made you laugh here at this table? There are 100 assholes that are funny, but not everybody needs to be on-stage. And they kept on me, and kept on me. And then people started to yell at me. My friend Tanner yelled at me, “WHY AREN’T YOU ON STAGE?” That’s when I thought it might be dangerous for me to NOT be on stage, so eventually I got familiar with Relapse and then just did it.
G: I’ve seen different last names associated with you online, who is the real Karen?
K: Laughs I was wary of putting my real name on Facebook. I just don’t like putting my real name out there, but I guess I’ll have to when this comes out.
G: So did you ever figure out the difference between a blow-job and a Caesar salad?
K: Laughs Well they both taste like sardines, and they’re both good starters.
G: Who’s been your favorite headliner to work with?
K: The Beards of Comedy are terrific. Jarrod Harris and Debra Cole. Oh Kyle Kinane as well.
G: What’s next for you in stand-up?
K: It’s kind of a roll of a dice kind of thing. It’s like if you’re really good at making pottery, and you don’t really know why and everyone makes a big deal out of it like, Look at those pots? And you’re just like, I don’t know, I’m just making pots! And everyone thinks you need to sell these pots, and you don’t think the pots are even that serious.
I’m having fun, and what happens after that, I will accept. I’m just really flattered right now by the people coming to shows and approaching me to perform. I’m kind of still in adventure mode. But I have a few shows coming up. I’m performing at Revenge of the Funny, March 10th at the Highland Ballroom Lounge. Also, February 6th at Comedy Gold in Buckhead, I will be headlining. This is the big deal for me. If I fail on February 6th I’m moving back in with my parents, developing a pill habit maybe. There’s not a lot of pressure. If I don’t succeed my whole life will crumble, so please come and watch me do or die.
Gabriella Giarrano is a freelance writer and stand-up enthusiast with an addiction to used books that borders on clinical.
She is currently working within the Atlanta comedy community to promote and support local talent and events. Follow her on twitter at http://twitter.com/pantsoff.