To be totally honest, I feel a little insecure introducing this week’s awesomepreneur we love. Diana De Luna is a comedian, writer, performer (and you’re not) so funny that I can do little more than giggle and drool while trying to sum up her heartwork. Diana’s used to that, though: before she made the move to Los Angeles to focus on stand-up comedy, Diana paid the bills (see the video following her interview for specifics) as a nanny. Though she swears those days are over, fans like me wonder what we’ll do without the (classy) poop jokes and stuff like this:
I’m going to go ahead and stop talking/peeing myself with laughter now and let Diana do her thang. Isn’t she lovely?
1. Who are you?
Give us a quick heartography of yourself.
I’m a Stand-up comedian, writer, performer and retired nanny. I bounced around Chicago and New York involved in theatre, writing, directing, producing and acting, eventually discovering Stand-Up and never looking back. I’ve been on The Lifetime Network and TruTV. If you missed it, my Mom has the tape. I’ve recently moved back to my native L.A to pursue stand-up and writing full-time.
2. What do you do?
Describe your heartwork.
I think about what I think is the funniest part of something, then I write. Then fail. Then I write some more and the cycle continues until the monsters are quiet, or The Biggest Loser is on (then, it’s like, “comedy whaaa?? My stories are on!”) I like to think of failing as an equal component to any artistic work (jokes about Raven Simone ARE, subjectively, considered art. So there.) because you makes the biggest discoveries and adjustments after failure. I’m not saying that my heartwork is sucking, but I do think a defining aspect of stand-up comedy is opening yourself up and making yourself available to the possibility of failure. Every night that a comic goes to a show or an open mic, and tries some new joke they’ve been thinking about all day for the first time, they are risking bombing. I think that’s the rush…the “Russian Roulette,” failure being the bullet. You say something out loud, that you think is important, and people agree, and everyone shares a thought or emotion with each other and it’s great. Or they don’t like you. They don’t think you’re funny. They never want to see your face again. You have to show up to find out. It’s storytelling, but with the risk of a child abuse joke being terribly misunderstood.
3. How did you get started as an awesomepreneur?
I started as an Actress at DePaul University, which had a classical theatre training conservatory. I had a lot of authority problems, and didn’t really enjoy the “system” of theatre and didn’t find it interesting or thriving. I also probably/definitely had anger and stubbornness issues, so that program didn’t work out. I transferred to Columbia College where I didn’t attend too many classes, but did plays, and produced DIY productions with my friends. I got really into physical theatre, improv, and sketch writing–had started to write some solo performance stuff. I moved to New York and continued to work with avant-garde theatre companies and self producing, mostly funny stuff. I was taking some improv classes and dating a real asshole who wanted to try stand-up. He was toward the end, and we were both getting a little drunk. As I watched it, I thought “That’s all a joke is? That’s all you need to get up?! I’ve got that much.” Then the asshole really bombed, so I asked if I could get up. I did well. Better than the asshole. I think I was drunker than him too. After that, I started getting up every night, and an obsession was born. Beautiful story, right?
4. Do you have a day job?
How do you fund your heartwork?
Last month, I left New York. I had 5 nanny jobs and was trying to do stand-up every night. I felt like a crazy person. I have the luxury of being from Los Angeles, where there is also a lot of stand-up and comedy industry. I decided that if I was really going to focus on comedy, I had to make some sacrifices. As much as I love NYC and the comedy scene there (which is fantastic and I am so grateful to have learned so much) I decided to move, not only back to L.A., but into my parents garage. My ill-thought out plan is to keep my over-head as low as possible and be available to take shows and follow opportunities without being tied down to a Starbucks schedule or whatever. Plus, my folk are cool. Whatever, my room is effing huge!
5. What is your biggest work challenge?
When does your heartwork feel like hard work?
It’s always hard. It’s hard to go do it. Everything is about showing up, and comedy is not always the most welcoming place to show up to every day. Sometimes I’m really tired, or I haven’t written, or the weather is shitty, and I’m like, “What’s the point in getting up and doing a set?” But I have to, because that’s how it works. It’s also challenging to not really know how it works. It’s a lot of playing life by ear, and that’s tough. It’s a lot of being broke and nervous and tired and confused.
6. What is the best thing about being an awesomepreneur?
Why do you love what you do?
I love stand-up because I can get up and perform every night of the week if I want to. And I control the content. I love the rapid expansion of a joke after telling it all week. I love re-writes, phrasing, construction 10, 15, or 20 minutes out of my notes. To perform something that you have created is enormously exciting, satisfying, and weirdly therapeutic. I like the culture and community of comedy and the direct communication of ideas. Plus, comics get laid a ton.
7. What is your #1 tip for working with heart?
What do you want to share with other awesomepreneurs?
If you’re uncomfortable, you’re probably doing the right thing. Don’t be too timid to say what you want or let fear deter you from what you’re after (I’m such an effin Capricorn). Surround yourself with people who inspire you to work harder (I think my friends are some of the funniest comedians I’ve ever seen). Listen to advice, but don’t feel like you have to follow it. Keep your personal sanity a priority…nothing is more annoying than a drunk, miserable stereotype of an artist.
Keep things like money and notoriety off your mind and revel in growth and new experiences.
Also, say “Please” and “Thank You” to your bus driver.
And that’s how it’s done, folks.
For a laughter-induced pee fest of your own, check out Diana’s stand-up below (or subscribe to her YouTube channel) and make sure to follow her on Twitter, too! Oh, and if you’re ever in L.A. and have the honor of pee/laughing in Diana’s hilarious presence, tell her you knew her way back when she was on Awesomepreneur. If she makes fun of us, I’ll consider it our big break.
We love Diana De Luna!