Alumni Comics: Alexis Gay ’09 Finds Motivation from Her Fans 
Alexis Gay was just born hilarious

Alexis Gay finds motivation from the very people she is trying to entertain as a stand up comedian.

By Daniel Lippman ’08

When Alexis Gay ’09 first started making humorous videos as a budding comedian, her fan base consisted of just two people: her then-boyfriend and her best friend. Now she gets recognized on the streets of Manhattan by fans who want to take a selfie with her.

Gay’s videos poking fun at Silicon Valley and San Francisco have struck a chord with people who pay attention to the tech world. Her top video, about how every party in San Francisco has the same conversational themes, has racked up three million views. She was recently profiled on ABC News’s “Nightline” and has garnered more than 100,000 followers for her Twitter account, which she started in 2009 in the Hotchkiss Library computer lab.

In fact, she began her career in the field she now roasts. After graduating from New York University, she worked at a startup that built technology for live entertainment ticketing. She later worked in business development at the cloud company Twilio.

But living and breathing tech 24/7 took its toll on Gay, leading her to take improv classes as a hobby and as a way to follow her passion for drama and acting.

“The first time I got a laugh onstage from doing improv it was like a bolt through the heart. Oh, I’m addicted,” she says. “When I make you laugh, you didn’t choose to laugh. And with people in an audience, it’s just this raw moment where I get to feel deeply connected to strangers. Because in that one moment, I shared something about my human experience.”

Gay realized she could make a living as a comedian after running the creator partnerships team at Patreon, a platform that lets artists and entertainers sell subscriptions to fans. Once the pandemic hit and live entertainment evaporated, she threw herself into writing jokes and challenged herself to make a one-minute video every week to post on Twitter and Instagram. That led to a steadily increasing social media following, which now includes many top journalists, CEOs, and other influential figures in tech and business.

At the end of 2020, she quit her job to focus full-time on comedy, both online and in-person stand-up shows. In a return to her radio roots as co-president of WKIS during her senior year at Hotchkiss, she also started a podcast called “Non-Technical,” in which she interviewed business leaders, she said, “about everything except their résumés.”

“Maybe I sound like a Pollyanna, but I am motivated by bringing as much joy to people as possible,” she says, adding that reading people’s comments on her videos—such as, “This is so accurate, this is me!”—makes the hours of preparation worth it. “It just feels so good to know that for that little moment in time, whether it’s the laugh or the like or the share, people got to have a nice moment.”

Follow Alexis on Twitter @yayalexisgay, and view our other alumni profiles for Chloe LaBranche and Tom Allen.

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