Mo Welch’s comedic genius is limitless. As Chicago comedy scene’s ex-best kept secret, her blend of improv, stand-up and sketch comedy can only be described as an experience. A raucous, knee-slapping hilarious, one-woman experience comparable to have just having attended the Cirque Du Soleil comedy, assuming it was held in a dimly lit bar with a stage and not much more than a microphone. Her sense of humor is what’s theatrical, and her wit can fill a room.
Her diverse talent is most naturally summarized in her childhood favorites; Roseanne, The Mighty Boosh, SNL and Amy Sedaris. She is a rarity, deftly able to jump in and out of character and hold an audience with pure and unadulterated absurdity. She is what you many times wish you could be watching on Saturday nights as watching Mo perform is what gives the phrase, “I knew her when” so much weight. It’s like watching one of the sketch greats before they’re famous.
Obviously, a comic like this would come from a hilarious background, and that she did.
“I actually came to realize that I wanted to be a comedian, weirdly enough, while living in Laramie, Wyoming — gay pride city — where I was slowly dropping out of college, Mo said. “I woke up one day and decided I wanted to try comedy and signed up for improv classes that day in Denver. I started stand up shortly after, simply because I wanted to be on stage more and it seemed like you could get more stage time doing stand up. So I started making that long drive to and from Denver around three times a week, sometimes getting up at an open mic for four to five minutes and then driving back up at one in the morning. That was five years ago. “
In those five years, Mo has carved her own niche within the industry. Siphoning all of her genius into one place, she started The Mo Show in 2009 as a place to let her creativity evolve instead of performing the same routine night after night. The Mo Show is a personal sort of variety show that allows her the freedom to be exactly who she was meant to, namely characters like Larry Bird, while inviting her equally talented peers to perform alongside her.
And while most line-ups include far fewer women than men, she continues to trail blaze a way for female comics without even realizing it. In the comedy scene boys club, Mo has surrounded herself with funny ladies.
“I realize I’m living in an enormous bubble,” Mo said. “I’m surrounded by lesbians in comedy so it’s hard for me to see the lack of lesbians. Also, most men in comedy dress like lesbians so I basically think everyone in comedy is a lesbian.
That’s not to say that being a woman in the scene has proven equal. Not yet, anyway. Comics like Mo are quickly changing the faces and presumed gender roles of comedy.
“There are a couple difficulties regarding being a female in a male-dominated comedy field,” Mo said. “The first is on any given show, a lot of comedy producers only leave one spot for females on a show which is ridiculous, because the amount of females in comedy is growing every day and there are more than enough females to have 50/50 lineups on shows in big comedy cities. A lot of producers just figure a comedy show should have as many females on the show as there are microphones.”
She has mastered the art of being comfortable in her own skin which is what allows her to blur the preconceived ideas about female comics and what makes her so able to quickly jump into characters and retell stories. They are very much a part of her.
“I’m just happy I’m comfortable enough to talk about my gay life on stage and really that’s enough for me at this moment. I was afraid to do it before because I was afraid I would lose the male audience members and to be completely honest, the attention of male comics,”Mo said. “When I stopped caring about that I started writing more gay jokes. They really aren’t that stereotypical as they are from my own personal experience, but it’s not like my entire set is filled with jokes about The Abbey and softball. Gayterial (new fun word) is only a certain percentage of my set, I have more grocery store and fart material than I have gay material, but talk about what you know best, right?”
Changing minds seems to be another dimension to Mo’s talent.
“I feel like females are judged on their comedy way more than men and that’s hard to get over, maybe that’s because there is only one to two a show,” Mo said. “Women are judged on their looks more as well, I can’t tell you how many audience members comment on a female comic’s looks before they talk about how their set was.”
The best part about what I do is being able to get on the stage and change minds while making people laugh. Gay people come in all shapes and sizes just like everyone else, so when audience members tell me they don’t believe I’m gay because I look like some straight person they know or because that’s their way of hitting on me, that offends me. I admire comedians who help lessen the ignorance in people and so I try to do the same.
As with most funny ladies headed for greatness, Mo has made the big move to Los Angeles as talent like hers needs to be experienced and the inspiration that follows her needs to be felt. Coming at the end of this month, March 23rd at NerdMelt Theater, she is reviving The Mo Show, LA Style.
“I’m excited about the new LA show because, for one, it’s in the back of a comic book store which excites me beyond words and also because it’s now a live chat show which is what I wanted to do from the very beginning,” Mo said. “I’ll be wearing a lady tuxedo every show which should alone pack the house, but if you need more, I am also interviewing some very talented people like Adult Swim’s Metalocolypse director Jon Schnepp along with great comedians such as Kyle Kinane and Alana Johnston mixed with videos, games and cookies. I put a lot into The Mo Show. I genuinely want to blow people’s minds and show them something they have never seen before.
She had me at NerdMelt and lady tuxedo. Don’t miss out.