Studio Visit: Charlie Charlyn Hester
Studio Visit is a Q&A with an area artist. Here, a chat with Charlie Charlyn Hester, 36, of Danville, a comedienne, singer, visual artist and mother of three children.
Q: I didn't know you made visual art too.
A: I do altered art or found objects — I make record purses from old albums. I paint appliances. I like doing things that make people say, "I didn't know that could be painted."
Q: When did you start singing and doing comedy?
A: I started performing by the time I was 5. I would do plays at church. I did children's theater at Red Mask, and I started doing standup about a year and a half ago.
I started that because I had blogged through a 100-pound weight loss. I found that I really had a strong voice for humor and people found my humor relatable because I don't pretend to be perfect.
Q: Do you draw from your family life for jokes?
A: Sometimes. Sometimes my jokes are about trying to raise three teenagers — my kids are 14, 13 and 12. Sometimes they're just about finding the bright spots in life because that's what I try to focus on.
Every last person in this house is hilarious, but my goal is whatever I do for standup I can let my kids see. It doesn't always happen because every once in a while I get a little mouthy. But I want them to be proud of me because I'm out chasing my dreams. It's important that they join my on my journey.
Q: What about motherhood as a source?
A: Honestly, for me, it's more relearning my body after such a big weight loss and reaching middle age. I always say middle age is when you get pimples and wrinkles at the same time.
Q: Haven't you entered comedy competitions?
A: I haven't competed. I did perform at the 2014 Gilda's LaughFest in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in March. It was really cool because I met so many interesting people and we were all there to do our comedy and have people walk away laughing.
I love, love doing festivals, and it allowed me to sneak away for a mini-vacation. It was just three days of alone time. The last 18 hours of my trip I didn't speak to anyone. I'm an extroverted introvert. People think I'm outgoing and I am on stage, but I really love alone time. That's why I love painting and gardening.
Q: What kind of singing do you do?
A: I do a lot of it during my comedy act, singing songs I've written and playing my ukulele. At my next two shows I'll premiere "The Loser Song," which talks about the fact we're all adult losers and we're making it up as we go.
Writing songs is my favorite outlet because there's something about putting how you feel into lyrics and then putting a melody to those. It takes on a life of its own.
And, yes, I sing in the shower, bath and in the car.
Q: Don't you write your material in the bathroom?
A: Yes. There's something very cathartic for me about taking a bath and washing away the day.
I sit in there and just let my mind wander, and with three kids, two dogs, a cat and a husband — the bathroom has a door that locks.
I take my iPhone in there and put it in a plastic baggie. I kind of tap out a couple of key words on it to remember my thoughts. I practice my standup routine in our bathroom.
Q: When do you find time to write songs and comedy?
A: I sneak it in. When I go to pick up the kids from school, I'll sit in the line of cars practice on my ukulele.
Every Wednesday during the day I meet with my comedy writing partner, Jake Aurelian, and we sit and talk and go over things. It's really interesting because he's one of the most brilliant people I know. He catches all the little things.
With comedy, I strive for it to be clever and smart. I don't want everybody to get my jokes because I feel my comedy isn't for everybody — it's for everybody else. That's a Jonathan Katz joke. He's a comedian from Boston and my comedy hero.
Editor's note: Hester performs at 9 p.m. Thursday at the Clark Bar, 207 W. Clark St., C; around 10 p.m. Thursday at Cafeteria & Co., 208 W. Main St., U; and 9 p.m. May 20 as part of Campus Comedy Open Mic at The Canopy Club, 708 S. Goodwin Ave., U.