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TRACI SKENE has appeared on VH-1's Standup Spotlight, A&E's Comedy On The Road and Lifetime's Girls Night Out, all of which has done her absolutely no good.

Traci Skene


Traci Skene

SHECKYmagazine Chief


When I first became an unpaid columnist for, I decided to pay closer attention to paid columnists from other publications in the hopes of learning some tricks of the trade. I quickly discovered that there are a few techniques a columnist can use to make his life just a little easier. Lists work. As does plagarism. Perhaps the best way to fill up space is to re-run a holiday column from a past issue. This last suggestion has a dual purpose: For one, it fools the reader into thinking that there is actually pent up demand for previous work and secondly it gives the columnist a lame excuse to take the month off. With this in mind, I have decided to run my Father's Day column that appeared in this publication two years ago. I figure that if I can just write a holiday column every month, a year from now I will never have to write again. Now please enjoy this most requested Best Of edition of Keep It Tight and excuse me while I go work on my Independence Day piece for next month...and every July in the future.

--Traci Skene

A few months ago, after reserving the smallest, cheapest rental car in stock, I showed up at the Enterprise rental desk at the agreed upon time to pick up the little pile of junk that would be my car for the following week. I've done this drill more times than I care to admit. I know how to get the cheapest rates, I know just where to sign to deny coverage and I know to always check under the seat for any change or, in one case, a camera left behind by the previous renting party. In other words, I am a pro when it comes to renting a car. Unfortunately, the evil man behind the desk was not aware of my reputation before we had our encounter.

In a tone which was both chipper and condescending, the evil rental agent informed me that my car was not available. But, he added in his chipper yet condescending way, he would be happy to rent me a larger car for $15 more per day. I took a deep breath, stared straight into his evil eyes and asked, "Now, why would I want to do that? " Needless to say, I got what I wanted.

Later that day, I bragged extensively to my husband about my showdown. Upon hearing my bold and effective statement to the evil rental agent, my hubby simply replied, "You are your father's daughter."

I am my father's daughter? That was the first time my husband, or anyone else for that matter, had ever said that I was just like my dad. Even my father regularly says, "You are your mother's daughter."

But, I began to wonder, after 33 years of careening around this planet, which parent had I become? My mother passed away 13 years ago. It is quite possible that, in the intervening decade plus, I've picked up more paternal traits in her absence. In retrospect, however, I think I've always been more like my dad. I no doubt took a deep breath and stared straight into the evil eyes of an evil elementary school teacher and asked, "Now, why would I want to do that?"

There is no question that I have my mother's caustic yet endearing sense of humor. Anyone who knew my mother (and anyone who knows me), would never dream of arguing that point. I even did one of her jokes my very first time on stage...and it got a laugh! But, as you quickly learn in this business, it takes more than just a sense of humor to be a standup comic. All the other stuff, I definitely got from my dad. Here are just a few of the necessary traits I inherited from the patriarch of my family:

Foulmouthedness: While neither my dad nor I are known for using filthy words, he did teach me to spend the profane word wisely and only use it when it will do me the most good. This has helped me greatly when dealing with drunken hecklers or trying to extract money from unscrupulous bookers.

Adaptability: Standup comics are highly adaptable people. Not only do we have to adjust to different performing situations, we also must adjust to working with, and for, different people on a weekly (and sometimes daily) basis.

Tenacity: No one ever makes it quickly in this business. And if they do, they usually wind up dead from a drug overdose. Showbusiness is primarily based on rejection. If you're not tough, you don't stand a chance.

Hardheadedness: I am nothing if not stubborn and willful. Fortunately, in comedy, a hard head is an absolute necessity. Everyone has advice and it's often difficult to stick with what passes for your own vision. If I hadn't been hardheaded, I would have listened to my dad and become a lawyer.

Earnestness: Comedy isn't all fun and games. More often than not, it's serious business;. It is, afterall, how so many of us make a living. Ironically, if you're not a serious person, you'll never make it as a comedian.

Resilience: The ability to bounce back from a bad show, cope with last minute cancellations or just get out of bed when an exciting deal falls apart, is what separates the professional standup comic from the guy who is merely the life of the party.

Since June 17 is Father's Day, I thought I would take this opportunity to dedicate my column to my dad and point out to him that if, deep down, he is disappointed that I dropped out of college to become a standup comic, he has no one to blame but himself. Thanks for the genes, Dad! And I promise to someday pay you back all the money I owe you! But, then again, why would I want to do that? HOME Back to the Top