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Vulnerability, Honesty, and Strength: Bri Pruett Finds Her Voice Through Stand-up Comedy
In 2010, Bri Pruett stepped up to a grimy microphone in old town Portland to perform stand-up comedy for the first time. She had been a theater, improv and sketch comedy performer all her life, but on March 8th, she tried stand-up for the first time.
Spoiler alert: she killed.
Soon she was knocking out open mic nights and small showcases at bars, theaters and one Applebee’s, throughout the Pacific Northwest. Stand-up comedy wouldn’t always be an easy path for the chubby, feminine, theater major, but it quickly became her passion.
Her first creative obstacle presented itself in the form of a groan. Groans are of course, sometimes a part of stand-up comedy, but never a goal. Quickly, Bri noticed that audiences found certain subjects taboo, but just for her. She would watch male comedians, crush while showcasing their vulnerability; referring to bad dates, their out of shape body, their low IQ, and sad, studio apartments. Audiences were not as generous with their laughter when Bri went for the same low-hanging fruit.
“Can you blame them?” Bri commented on this creative hurtle, “The mainstream media hasn’t depicted a single, fat, sexually-confident woman as anything but a tragedy; of an incomplete rosebud, waiting for man to come and fix her so she may bloom…”
Vulnerability was at the heart of her stand-up, and now Bri’s commitment to honesty was being challenged. She couldn’t lie to placate the audience, but she did begin to… exaggerate. Her jokes were still true to life, but written to a triumphant, positive narrative. Her big thighs weren’t depicted as a detriment, but rather two powerful sentries standing guard. Being catcalled was not a sign of victimhood, but a careful and cheerful deconstruction of male entitlement and ego.
“I realized that the messages reaching the audience became my reality. My jokes were almost like a mantra, and the sentiments were working their way into my subconscious. I found my confidence and strength on stage and off stage, growing.” Bri stated, on her developing voice.
That message has reached audiences in comedy clubs, televisions, and recently via her one-person performance, Stellar, a show of true stories and jokes, synthesizing her romantic life and relationship to her body and femininity.
“I’m here to express a narrative that I do not see represented… of women being happy with themselves even when they’re single, happy with their bodies even if their bodies are not represented in the mass media in a positive way, ever, people who are not trying to necessarily change themselves based on outside opinions,” she told OPB’s Think Out Loud.
Now in Los Angeles, Bri delivers her overtly feminist message to audiences at a time when folks are hungry for positive ideas that deconstruct dominant ideologies, Bri is hitting the ground running with no plans to stop.
We are beyond thrilled to have Bri humorously share her idea worth spreading about being loud and proud about what makes you unique on the TEDxMtHood stage October 7th. You won’t want to miss it – get your ticket, here.