Woman of Her Word

Kat Radley Head Shot

What do you call a woman who keeps her word? A stand-up gal. (sorry, I couldn’t resist)

I am fortunate to have met many people from all walks of life over the years. I like to interview them and share their stories with you in hopes that you will be inspired and entertained by their distinct journeys. If you haven’t heard of her, take note, Kat Radley is a smart, sassy comedian and staff writer for The Daily Show on Comedy Central.

I met Kat for the first time when she was in town with fellow comics David Angelo, Matt Koff and Joseph Opio for The Daily Show Writers Stand-Up Tour, sharing their behind-the-jokes of the late-night program. I went with a group of friends and we had a blast! Kat is the only female stand-up comic in the group of four, and she crushed it. I talked with her after the show, shared my admiration for her as a comedian, and asked if she would grant me an interview for my blog. She agreed!

Kat has been busy on a whirlwind tour, picking up an NAACP writing award along the way, and I am very grateful that she carved out some time for a candid interview with me…

Q: At what point in your life did you have the defining moment that comedy was your passion?
A: It was in college. I found a really strong group of girlfriends in college and finally felt comfortable being myself, unlike high school which was a self-conscious, popularity-contest nightmare. I had always been funny, but now other people recognized it — a lot of my friends would often comment on how funny I was, and I realized how much I loved making people laugh. A few friends even asked me if I considered going into comedy, and once that seed was planted as a possibility, I couldn’t shake it.

Q: Who was your biggest comedic influence growing up?
A: I always loved Conan O’Brien and Saturday Night Live. I found that comedy is very accessible and fun, and I looked forward to watching every weekend. I always waited for the Spartan Cheerleader sketches and quickly fell in love with Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. I also watched a lot of I Love Lucy growing up, and I think that sunk into my subconscious without me even realizing it.

Q: Who or what made you take the brave plunge from teacher to a writer for The Daily Show?
A: I quit teaching full time three years before I even got The Daily Show. My boyfriend (and now fiancé) encouraged me to take the leap to quit teaching so I could devote more time to comedy. I, of course, had to keep paying my bills, so I tutored, substitute taught, drove Lyft and Uber, and did various odd jobs to make ends meet until I finally got the writing gig.

Q: What has been the best moment for you so far as part of The Daily Show?
A: The best was hearing a joke I wrote told on television for the first time. I just happened to get three jokes on the show my very first day. I watched the live taping from the studio, and hearing Trevor tell the jokes, and then the audience actually laughing at them was a dream come true.

Q: Do you feel like you have had to work harder to earn your place in a field that is still male dominated?
A: Yes, I do. I started out, and still do stand up. I think it is definitely harder for a woman doing stand up to earn the respect of an audience, especially when I started back in 2008. Our society automatically accepts a male comic could be funny when he gets on the stage, but when a woman gets on the stage, the automatic response is, “Let’s see IF she’ll be funny.” Whether people are aware of it or not, we’ve all been programmed to associate being funny as a male trait rather than a female trait, but I think that is finally changing. There have been countless stand-up shows where I’ve been the only woman on a lineup of six to 10 comics, so just fitting in and getting along with other comics can be a challenge. They are more likely to accept you if you are funny… which I am.

Q: What do you do to keep your comedic writing skills sharp?
A: Write every day! It can be hard to make time, but you have to.

Q: What is your ultimate career goal?
A: To be able to keep making a living off of writing jokes forever and ever is all I can ask for.

Q: What is one piece of advice that you would give to a young girl aspiring to get in the comedy field and/or become a writer for a show?
A: I would say to keep going. The majority of people who don’t make it in comedy don’t make it… because they stop trying! I have friends, men and women, who quit for various reasons, and I wonder where they’d be now if they had stuck it out. I was told during my first year of comedy that it takes an average of 10 years to “make it.” I got my writing job nine years in. I’m not sure if that is “making it,” but it sure feels better than taking naps in my car in between tutoring kids and doing open mics.