AUSTIN AMESTOY for the Missoulians
Comedian Andy Iwancio’s first attempt at stage humor won her third place in a school talent show when she was 9 or 10 years old in Baltimore, Maryland. A tie for third place, that is, with a kid who performed what she called “an Irish jig.”
The Seattle-based comedian still thinks the judges got it wrong.
“The East Coast has Irish jig dancers everywhere,” Iwancio said. “And, I can say that – I’m Irish. I think what really got me into acting was my hatred of the Irish jig.”
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Iwancio has come a long way since Urkel’s impressions in elementary school talent shows. In the nearly 30 years since, she’s come out as a transgender woman, performed her comedy in theaters across the country, and recently recorded her first-ever EP, “hard*trans,” which is slated for release later this year. .
Her next stop: The Roxy Theater, where she’ll star alongside Missoula comedians Charley Macorn and Rochelle Côté in a two-hour comedy showcase designed to kick off the Halloween season.
Macorn — a self-proclaimed “tragically butch woman” who uses she/they pronouns — is Specialty Programming Coordinator at the Roxy Theater, where she produces monthly programs celebrating creators and LGBTQ media. She said she recognized Iwancio’s talent when she first saw her perform at the Portland Queer Comedy Festival in 2017.
“Even then, it was like, ‘Holy shit–. This girl is legit,'” Macorn said.
Courting comedians in Missoula is not part of Macorn’s job description. But when she learned that Iwancio had played Bozeman earlier this year, Macorn said it didn’t seem right for the Garden City to be missing.
For Macorn, bringing Iwancio to the Roxy isn’t just about comedy. It’s also part of his ongoing mission to elevate voices that had been relegated to the sidelines for years.
Macorn said Missoula’s comedy scene was very different when she first dove into the business eight years ago — namely, male-dominated. At the time, she said, Missoula comedy was still in its “infancy,” with stand-up shows appearing once or twice a month at the Union Club. But, as the city’s hunger for comedians grew, so did the diversity of voices doling out the jokes.
Today, comedy fans in Missoula can catch four or five shows a week, Macorn said. And she’s no longer one of the only trans actresses in town.
“I think Andy, who is one of the best comedic minds I’ve ever seen, is able to really, really connect,” Macorn said.
Andy sat down with the Missoulian to discuss his comedic inspiration, his upcoming EP and what it means to have “a seat at the table.” (This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity).
How would you describe your comedic style?
I think I was quoted as “sardonic”. That’s being super corny about it. But that’s vulgar – I use a lot of four-letter words to describe 18-word sentences. It’s a lot of me trying to distill things that I’m going through with my Pacific Northwest brain and my East Coast mouth – trying to merge the two.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I would say part of that is obviously being transgender. In the past, it would be that I was the only trans person on a list. Now there are a lot more trans comedians, non-binary comedians, and fluid comedians and all these great different storytelling voices.
Now I have to be 40 and also trans, as opposed to “trans, and I’m also .” You try to think about what is unique to you as an actor; to talk about your personal experiences. What’s weirdly “pissed off” about me is that I’ve been in a healthy relationship for 20 years.
Tell me about your next EP — it’s called “hard*trans”, right?
Yeah, it’s a joke that I’m also a DJ. There is a genre of dance music called “hard trance”, so “hard*trans” is a pun on that. It’s terrible – the EP is good, but that pun on the front is terrible.
The idea of recording all the trans jokes in the EP is because there is no trans bar like there is a gay bar. So the internet is our gay bar. The idea of sharing something digitally – an album with trans jokes – is for trans people seeing it online rather than seeing me in person.
What do you think of comedians who make jokes at the expense of trans people?
People say trans people can’t take a joke, but we don’t have a seat at the table to hear about the jokes some of these people make. My qualms are mostly with these huge comedians who feel like they’re “cancelled”, or whatever. I feel like they are still working and have millions of dollars. I don’t think there are enough great trans comedians out there for you to be like, “Well, these are the great trans comedians, and they can roast them on a Netflix special.”
Are you on the right track to get a seat at the table?
I’m 40, taking my lunch break to talk to a Missoula, Montana newspaper about a show I’m doing there in a week. I won’t be at this table at any time, but I hope someone will. I’m not doing this for a big Netflix thing. If that happened, that would be awesome.
I think it will be the others, the younger ones, and they will be more understanding. I’m sure it will be different from what I do, and I’m sure they’ll have a TikTok account. No. TikTok is when I sat down on the social media bench and waved the kids over to have fun. That’s when I tapped.
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