Club Baby Seal comedian Alicia Hughes-Skandijs dabbled in everything from acting to existentialist French clown camps before finding her passion in stand-up comedy.
“I had secretly always wanted to do it,” she said, recounting how it felt to open up a “Girls’ Life” magazine and to see an article on a kid doing comedy. “I was like, ‘Oh she’s doing standup, I could do standup.’ I was jealous reading this profile.”
It took some open mic nights performances, a determined comedian friend, and the realization that she looked forward to office staff meetings because she could make a room full of people laugh for her to give stand-up a try.
The first time she performed was on a whim. One of her friends, Brady Ingeldue, was the opening act for a touring comedian and she told him, half in jest, to ask if the venue needed an opener for their opener. He took her seriously and called back to say yes, they did, and that he had already accepted for her. Despite her nerves and feeling like her life was already crazy, Alicia told herself she’d do it. It might be a disaster, but she was going to make it a public disaster. It was a less than ideal situation; the backstage area consisted of a bucket to sit on and a mop. But when she stepped up to the mic, she said it felt natural. She loved it and she knew she had to keep doing it.
It’s been two years since Alicia first stepped on the comedy stage. She’s now a regular with Club Baby Seal at the group’s Goldtown Nickelodeon shows and has toured with them to Petersburg, Skagway, and Gustavus. Despite her growing experience with a variety of audiences, she still gets nervous before a show.
“It’s like a bunch of werewolves, the day of (a show),” Alicia said about herself and her comedy partners. “I’m an easily flustered person. I’m tightly wound when I’m on stage. The hardest part for me is… when I walk on stage, it’s getting the mic out of the stand and then moving it to the side.” Once she gets that out of the way, she said, she’s fine. In fact, she doesn’t even mind when the audience isn’t listening; she likes the challenge. She admits that she’s probably the only Club Baby Seal member who feels that way.
What has helped Alicia in recent performances is something Ingeldue once told her: comedians aren’t going out there to be funny, they’re going out there to communicate ideas. “Some other famous comedian said that. For me, that is true. It’s oddly relaxing. If they don’t laugh, that’s fine; I just have to convey these ideas!” she said, chuckling.
Alicia tries to find the funny side of everyday life. When she’s on the lookout for comedy material, she describes it as “turning on the muscle in her head that’s listening for something weird or something that makes her laugh.” She tries to avoid being too “desperate” for material, though, constantly thinking about whether or not something would make a good joke. This can be a challenge when trying to churn out enough new material for a show every other month.
“Juneau is such a unique, weird situation,” Alicia said. “If I was doing comedy anywhere else, I would be honing those first few jokes until I threw them away, but here? To keep generating material is a whole other thing.”
When asked whether she wants to do stand-up as more than a hobby, Alicia eventually admitted that, yes, she does have plans in the quasi-near future to move out of Alaska and to pursue comedy more full-time. She said that she is always reluctant to tell people that she wants to move to New York, or Chicago, or Los Angeles, because she is afraid they’ll think, “Aww, she thinks she’s gonna go break into Hollywood…” But, she said, why wouldn’t she want to put herself in the middle of all the action?
“I enjoy stand-up so much,” Alicia said. “Why not see where it can go?”
• Jack Scholz is the Capital City Weekly’s UAS Spring 2018 intern.