Interview with Jessica Brodkin
I got the chance sit down with comedian and Reiki healer, Jessica Brodkin. I met her in her beautiful soothing office and we discussed her beginnings, inspirations and personal aspirations for her career, while we both munched on organic carrots.
When she was 27 years old she had an epiphany that she, not necessarily wanted to be a writer, but that she had to be a writer. At the time she was working for the CIA and had received her masters in applied economics. Impressed? Well, she listened to this epiphany and went to the DC improv, where she was living at the time, and started taking sketch writing classes. Soon enough she was invited to take an intensive class in NY. From DC she came to NY for writing and she learned she didn’t really like it all that much, however this lead her to find her love for the stage. At the end of the course the class took their scripts to the stage and she was cast in almost every sketch. From here she began taking improv classes, joined a troupe and for the next year or so she focused on improv. She then hits me with another epiphany. She said “I thought If I’m in my fifties and I look back on my life, what will I regret not doing? And I said stand up. I felt like I had to do it.” Again she listened to her epiphany and signed up for a class at the American Comedy Institute and then popped her stand up cherry at Gotham Comedy Club. I asked how her first set went and she said she didn’t open her eyes and kept banging the mic on her head. Luckily this didn’t stick as a habit and she has since continued on with stand up, hence this article.
I asked who her biggest comedic inspirations were and she said “ I know this is so cliché but Joan Rivers and Robin Williams”. They are both highly respected and missed in the comedy world, I was curious to know why they had such an impact on her comedy. She said she admired Joans brutal honesty and Robins improvisation. I agreed with Jessica that honesty and improvisation are key points to comedy and in Jessica’s stand up she has the perfect mix of brutal honesty, in both her own life and life in general, while also adding in the fun natural improv. Jessica grew up in the 80s when stand up was in its prime, so as a young kid she was always watching snip bits of stand up TV. One of her favorite comedy specials she remembers watching is Chris Rocks “Bigger and Blacker”. She stated, “He showed what comedy could do just by talking about simple stuff like men and women. He would speak this truth that just connected to everybody. I don’t know. Bigger and Blacker just opened up something in me” as she munched on her carrots..
On that note, I dived into asking her about her career as a Reiki healer and how it coincides with her comedy career. On stage she does a lot of crowd work so we discussed how this natural ability stems from her improv days but also that she works very closely with people, mostly strangers, on a daily basis. I was lucky enough to be healed by Jessica and it was just as amazing of an experience as it is watching her perform. She has the ability to somehow feel out your emotions, and truly pin-point the stresses in your life and then is able to release these stresses. After my session I was truly amazed at the process but also realized the similarities between reiki and stand up. In both of her professions she finds a way to connect with strangers, relate to their lives and have them relate to hers, while relieving the stresses of life, whether she’s doing it spiritually or through laughter. Most people can’t fathom doing either of these things, yet she has found a way to balance both, and leave her clients and audience in awe.
Although Jessica may not be leave her patients off feeling as though something “bigger and blacker” opened up something inside them, she definitely leaves them feeling healed from the stresses of life and ready to enjoy a good laugh.