Comedian Jill Bourque is aiming for nostalgia with the Tuesday night showcase she hosts at Tommy T’s in San Francisco.
“Jillarious: Stories & Stand-up” features yarn spinners, improvisers and traditional stand-uppers taking on theme nights. Here’s the rest of this month: May 15, Alter-Ego; May 22, Childhood; and May 29, Vacation.
With Childhood and Vacation as two upcoming topics couple with the fact that Jill is currently visiting Disneyland with her brood and I was in Disneyland with my family last month, we decided to riff on Southern California’s Happiest Place.
Corey Andrew: How is Disney treated you today?
Jill Bourque: Great; it’s like 70 degrees. Wonderful. You were here 10 days ago?
Corey: Yes, and it was the least crowded I’ve ever been to any Disney park ever. We were able to do a lot in a day. Is this a big, family vacation?
Jill: It’s a quickie. My husband is on business and we have annual passes. My boys are almost 7 and 9, which is a fine Disney age. So, when my husband has business down here, we tag along and stay in the hotel and go to Disney. We were her a month ago. Last weekend I taught an improv class at the Disney Family Museum. I like Disney. There’s some people here, though, that really like Disney. They’ve got the hats and the autograph books. They’re like paparazzi with the characters. It’s crazy.
Corey: I was in the Florida parks doing a story for Walt Disney’s 100th birthday and this guy was covered head to toe in Disney character tattoos.
Jill: Ooh, that’s a commitment. Wow. There’s a fascinating culture. People have really strong feelings about all this stuff.
Corey: Are your sons of the age where they don’t care about meeting Mickey and the gang?
Jill: They’re a little freaked out about a giant mouse. There’s pictures of us pushing them into the photos. ‘Get in there with Goofy!’ The look on their faces is, ‘This is not normal.’ They like the rides. I remember coming here and loving it. And I really like coming here for that nostalgia.
Corey: Were you freaked out about meeting the characters?
Jill: I don’t think I was really into that, either. Must be genetic. Not normal to be with a giant rat.
Corey: It is a rat in a tuxedo, so that makes it a little classier.
Jill: OK, there you go, rat in a tuxedo. I totally misjudged him.
Corey: Is it a challenge keeping up with two boys?
Jill: I sent you a photo where both boys are trying to get away from me, which is pretty much going on all day. They’re going in two different directions.
Corey: I would imagine one of the biggest challenges for everyone is getting kids to pose and smile like they mean it.
Jill: Kids are really honest. ‘No, I don’t really want to fake smile.’ Unless you happen to catch them in a moment, you’re out of luck. And getting two children to smile at the same time, you kind of have to fake it. One’s always pushing the other one.
Corey: Do you have any tips or tricks to share about how to occupy time waiting in line?
Jill: I’m a big advocate of this app called RideMax where you plan out what rides you wanna go on. They engineered this whole system so you waste the least amount of time. It really works. If you want to do a lot of rides in a short amount of time, you have to get here 20-30 minutes before opening and then head to the older, slow-loading rides. All of Fantasyland you have to do first. You can do that in 20 minutes if you go right there at the beginning of the day. There’s this whole Fast Pass system where you send a runner to get Fast Passes. I love it. I’m kind of a nerd about stuff like that.
Corey: That sounds right up my alley. Seems like everyone I want to take is like, ‘We’d like to sleep in.’ I pull them out of bed at 6 a.m., pour coffee down their throats. I wanna be there! I didn’t know about that app.
Jill: I won’t even bother coming if we have to wait more than 15 minutes in a line. It’s not worth it.
Corey: I totally agree. We did wait in a very long line to meet the princesses. I imagine you don’t have to worry about that.
Jill: No, we didn’t have to do that. The princesses are huge here. A friend of mine will not expose her daughter to any princess memorabilia, but they find it anyway. It’s on the street.
Corey: They’ll get it underground. They’ll find black market princess stuff. There’s no stopping it.
Jill: She finds a way to be a princess. Just like in our house, we don’t have guns. They will take any stick and make it a gun. Guns and princesses—it’s in their biology!
Corey: Do you have a way of finding each other? Are you wearing matches shirts?
Jill: They know to stick with me. My husband is on a text leash. Did you wear those matching shirts?
Corey: No, but we could have used them. The last time, we did three days in a row and on the last day, my sister went to get souvenirs and I somehow had my cell phone and her cell phone—and my 2-year-old sleeping niece.
Jill: Oh, no!
Corey: Disneyland at noon trying to find someone is a challenge. My sister had to find the one bank of pay phones and use her credit card to call me.
Jill: The T-shirts, it used to be they just wore matching ones. Now they explain why they’re here. ‘It’s Andrew’s 10th birthday and we’re here to celebrate!’ or ‘Grandma’s 85!’ They advertise why they’re here; that’s the next level.
Corey: I think I could only wear one of those shirts if I wasn’t with that group; finagle my way into getting one.
Jill: That would be awesome! You get a flash mob and go in, take a picture. Get 50 people to join in on their birthday celebration.
Corey: What was the highlight of the day?
Jill: Have you seen the Jedi training? I’ve never seen it before. One of the parents said, ‘Check this out.’ There was a Jedi Knight trainer. He’s got these jokes that work for the parents, too. Best of all, they have Darth Maul. He was great, the makeup and the horns coming out of his head. To become a knight-in-training you have to line up and jump around. Some kids had signs and attire; they had a whole thing. My son wanted to be cool. He didn’t want to look like an idiot. I was like a ‘Toddlers and Tiaras’ mom. ‘Jump! Jump! Smile!’ He didn’t get picked, but we went back and he made his own sign: ‘Master, the Force is strong with me,’ with a picture of a light saber.
Corey: The series that you are performing now, is this the type of experience that creates the fodder?
Jill: Yes, definitely, the storytelling aspect of it. I started this new format earlier this month. Until then it was a stand-up showcase. It was fine, but there are a million stand-up showcases. Stand-up, improv can become impersonal. I wanted to challenge everyone by giving them a theme. The other performers and the audience are really loving it. Let’s make it personal.
Corey: I think the challenging thing for the Vacation theme is to tell a really amusing story that isn’t an awful vacation.
Jill: I know, something that’s not vacation from hell. We should name it Vacation from Hell because there seems to be a lot of that.
Corey: There’s got to be some funny stories about great vacations, not just, ‘That’s the vacation where I developed my limp.’ There’s a reason why we go on vacation and it’s not to have a horrible time. I moved away from my family, so the majority of my vacations are them visiting here or me going home. It’s always a whirlwind where I feel like I’m telling a war story when someone asks me about it after.
Jill: Like ’nam. Is it really a vacation when you go visit your family? It’s not. It needs to be renamed. We go to visit my husband’s family in Louisiana. We use vacation time, but it’s really this other thing that I don’t know what the term is. And these are good in-laws. I’m pretty lucky.
For more information about “Jillarious: Stories & Stand-up,” visit www.jillarious.com
Corey Andrew has been interviewing comedians and writing about comedy for the last decade and a half. In 2011, he published the book, “Laugh Lines: Conversations with Comedians.” Corey was a writer and performer with Midwest sketch troupe, The NonProphets, before moving to the Bay Area with his family a few years ago. If you have ideas for future columns about comedy, you can send them to email@example.com and follow him at twitter.com/coreywrites.