Comedian Emma Willmann is Bound for World Domination
Sunday, December 28, 2014 at 12:00 AM | Sammy Ayyagari
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Hailing from a very small town in Maine (just 800 people), Emma Willmann moved to Boston to begin her stand-up journey, briging along her say-it-like-it-is comedic style, warm persona and an unmistakable edge. After establishing herself on the scene in New England, the roads led to New York City and here she's now with an impressive amount of feathers in her funny hat: headlining her own show at Carolines on Broadway, a familiar name in NYC's stand-up scene, appearing on national TV with AxisTV's Live at GothamDeadly Affairs and True Crime, being placed on the cover of TimeOutNY as one of the top 10 female comics in NYC and finally, (phew!), bringing in the New Year with fellow comics at AMC 34th Street at the Best NYE Comedy Festival. 

Coming from a small town in Maine and graduating up to New York City must've been a total whirlwind. Tell us about the transition.

Honestly, I was ready to leave my hometown. When I moved from my tiny town to Boston, I thought Boston was huge. Had I directly moved to NYC first, my head would've exploded! I remember there was this local bar that I used to go to. I knew the bartender and getting a drink was obviously easy. Getting a drink in New York, on the other hand, is like a sport. It's so crowded and I was too polite to shove people to order a drink.
You began your stand-up journey in Boston and eventually moved to NYC. Was there a stark difference between the New England crowd and NYC's? Did you find yourself tweaking your content?
Absolutely. In New york the bar's set so much higher; we have access to the best entertainment here. I remember someone telling me that one-third of Manhattan is trying the entertain the rest of the two-thirds. I quickly realized what I was up against and I had to be aware of every part of the business. I needed to get better at hustling, at writing, presenting, talking - everything. Coming to New York, I needed to get the best agent, the best manager to even consider getting ahead. New York City is the Olympics! I still love doing Boston and the New England region though, there's great comedy there.
 Your webseries with Robyn Schall, Dumbbelles, is absolutely genius! How did that come about?

The idea came up when Robyn and I were driving to a show in Buffalo. We realized that we're pretty good at bullshitting about things we didn't know anything about and maybe, we should to try and learn some stuff. That's it! We did get a lot of great feedback and weirdly, I've noticed smart, funny women really like our show and, for some reason, nerdy feminists hate it. We did a test run for a live show at Long Beach and it was sold out. But, when Robyn and I did a pilot and that didn't really work out so we're right now focusing on turning it into a real show. You know, get the package together. We're keen on touring with colleges across America.
If you could summarize your comedic goals in one sentence, what would it be?
World Domination.

Congrats on making it on AxisTV's Gotham Comedy Live and the shows Deadly Affairs & True Crimes. What's the most bizarre off-camera thing you've witnessed that might give us a taste of what the glamorous world of national TV is like?

I can think of the two: the most bizarre and the most humiliating experiences on a set.I did a role in Deadly Affairs where I was dying and there was blood all over me. The make-up artist ended up putting blood at the back of my head to make it look like I got struck there. So, the shoot was done, I walked back to the hotel I was staying at and the guy at the concierge just kind of yelped, "Oh my God!" I even turned and looked at him and he said nothing so I went up to my room and then realized that I still had the fake blood on me. Of course, I called him and told him what happened but what struck me as weird was, why didn't he stop me? You'd think if it looked like someone had blood on the back of their heads, someone who say something, right?

The other funnier, but more humiliating instance was when I was doing a bit for T-Mobile. At the end of the shoot we were asked to listen to some music and dance around, looking happy. We weren't informed that dancing would be involved and so they threw on Game Over by Li'l Flip and the ending to that was quite humiliating! Every time the song comes on, I'm reminded of this moment.


If you could ride one animal, fictional or not, to war - which one would it be?

A fire breathing dragon that shoots out kittens out of its eyes as a decoy.

 You're headlining at AMC 34th Street Best NYE Comedy Festival this year, let's just pause for a moment. Tell us how you're feeling after all the years of hustling to make it here.

I feel great! I'm excited to do comedy into the new year and I really look forward to it! Though, it does have a five hour open bar...
 A new year is supposed to call for new projects and, in general, new things. What's going to be new on your already full plate next year?

As of now, I'm focusing on the Glasgow Comedy Festival in Glasgow, UK. I'm very excited to do comedy in another country! I'm also working on writing a sitcom for TV and doing what I can to take it forward. My goal is that this time

 When it comes to openly addressing personal battles, like your dyslexia, we'd expect it to invite a lot of insensitive and possibly ignorant statements, right? Or do you find that people are surprisingly more accommodating?

Oh, they're extremely accommodating. The toughest thing in comedy is that you're sharing funny things from your personal and private life. I've had people come up to me after a show saying, "your dyslexic? That's cool my cousins retarded!" But I've never had anyone come up to me and say weird or stupid things.
You're given three finger snaps that summon three comics from any part of the world and any generation, who would they be?

Richard Jeni, Katt Williams and Joan Rivers.
 You can see Emma at this year's AMC 34th Street on NYE. Get your tickets here! 
Tags: deadly affairs, In The Spotlight, emma willmann, robyn schall, dumbbelles, axistv, live at gotham, true crime