By Daniel Lippman ’08
“I was just born hilarious,” jokes Chloe LaBranche ’07, a stand-up comedian and host of the “News 4 Women” YouTube show.
But before she could make a living doing stand-up in New York City and across the country, she did lots of odd jobs—babysitting, teaching in a spin studio, and even mastered ax-throwing. In fact, when LaBranche was starting out in comedy, she would sometimes only get paid with drink tickets.
Even though she was scared at first of performing in front of a live audience, LaBranche promised herself that she would get on stage by the time she was 25. In her waning months of being 24, she went to an open mic night and was immediately hooked.
“There’s nothing more fun than making people laugh. If you’re at a dinner party and you crack a joke, and it kills, you just feel like you’re awesome. Imagine getting to do that every night.”
She particularly likes that she can make people feel less alone in the world by talking about difficult issues, like mental health. “There are a lot of things that people are afraid to say. Humor can be used to say these things,” she says. “In order to open up people’s darkness with things, it’s sometimes easier to shed light on it [with comedy].” She cherishes the many messages she’s received from fans, who thank her for helping them laugh when they were in a bad place.
LaBranche, who studied film at Marymount Manhattan College, started doing two-minute comedy routines at comedy clubs. This often involved sitting in basements with 30 other aspiring comedians and waiting for two or three hours until her name was called. After a couple of years, she started building a fan base and getting booked on more shows as a headliner.
Like many comics, she often uses her own life experiences as material for her stand-up routine. Recently, in a performance at Caroline’s on Broadway, she jokes: “I just got out of a relationship. So I’m like, ‘Oh, I feel like I’m Neo in the Matrix. I’ve just been dodging bullets.’”
She’s also had to navigate the ways that changing political mores affect even the famously no-holds-barred comedy scene. “In Brooklyn, everyone’s super-woke. So you have to be a lot more PC, or people get offended,” she said. “Whereas at certain clubs in Manhattan, you can kind of do whatever you want.”
LaBranche would also like to have a TV or talk show one day and is working on a film script to pitch to networks. More recently, she’s started touring as the opening act for famous comedians and podcasters in places like Austin and Chicago.
Her travel schedule doesn’t make her social life easy. “Unless you date [another] comedian, which is just a recipe for disaster,” she jokes.
Follow Chloe on Twitter @ChloeLaBranche, and view our other alumni comics profiles for Tom Allen and Alexis Gay.