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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

Next Big Starlet

As someone who has completely given up on the idea of ever being "the next big star," I was quite surprised, if not slightly embarrassed, when I was chosen to be a contestant on Ed McMahon's latest talent competition, To give you a quick history of how I came to be a part of this Superbowl of Comedy (Yes, you can detect some sarcasm in my keystrokes and yes, I realize that the word Superbowl is a registered trademark of the NFL, but since I'm a comic just like Dennis Miller I figure I can use it without written permission) , I was one of nearly two dozen standup comics who participated in a casting call of sorts at the Punchline in Atlanta, Georgia. Quite frankly, I thought I didn't have a chance. My set do you say?...sucky. Keeping in mind that I am almost cruelly hard on myself, you must account for the margin of error and determine that it probably wasn't as bad as I imagined, but it certainly wasn't the type of set I'm used to having at one of my favorite clubs.

True to form, the producers had a slightly higher opinion of my little dick jokes and a few months later I found myself locked in a comedy Smackdown with five of my comedy brethren. Four would go on to the next round, while the other two would be left to tell anyone who would listen that they didn't want to be on the cyber show in the first place. When my competition week arrived, I decided not to ask anyone to log on and vote for little old me. Not because I was ashamed of my set --as many of you most likely assume-- but rather I decided I wanted to lose without the help of my friends. You see, a few weeks ago we alerted everyone in our database that Brian was a contestant on the very same site and he wound up losing in the first round. By the way, he thanks you from the bottom of his broken heart.

Of course, I voted for myself. I may have low self-esteem, but I'm not stupid. I didn't bother watching my set (I was there, I know how it went), I made sure I looked good (I'm not vain, I'm just female) and then I read my profile. I was quite surprised, if not slightly embarrassed, when my favorite comedian was listed as "Jeanene Garofalo." Now, before you rabid Jeanene Garofalo fans start picketing outside our modest apartment, I must tell you that I'm not planning to say anything negative about the first lady of American alternative comedy. I could, but I won't. I should, but I won't. What I will say, however, is that I would pick London Lee as my favorite comedian over Janeane Garafalo any day (and I only chose London Lee because it's just the sort of obscure reference that Ms. G would use with alarming frequency).

When Brian was a nextbigstar contestant, he found himself in the equally awkward position of having to explain that Adam Sandler was not his favorite comic. We were forced to notifiy everyone in our database (who obviously didn't vote for Brian) that a mistake had been made. Now, before you Adam Sandler fans join the Garofalo fans in the march against SHECKY!, we will admit that Sandler is wildy successful, but Brian, as editor of the WWW's most beloved online magazine about standup comedy, has a reputation to look after. With the choice of both Adam Sandler and Jeanene Garofalo as "favorite comedians", it is obvious that Ed McMahon has neglected to hire anyone over the age of 21. Either that or the folks at nextbigstar are squarer than a Rubick's cube.

It is also fair to say that as editors of an online magazine about standup comedy, who have been in this business since the mid-eighties, we would never pick a contemporary comic as our absolute favorite. We have too much respect for the folks who made us laugh as kids. But, what I found even more interesting in their choice of Jeanene Garofalo as my favorite comedian, is that it was automatically assumed my favorite comic would be another woman.

Don't get me wrong, I like female comics. In fact, the last time I checked, I was one of them. But, I must admit, I've never had a female comedian as one of my heroes. Growing up, I loved Gary Mule Deer, Steve Martin, The Smothers Brothers and Martin Mull. Those were the folks who made me want to do comedy, not Joan Rivers, Totie Fields or Phyllis Diller. That, of course, does not mean that I don't think other women are funny. There are plenty of funny women out there in Comedyland and I try to help them out just as often as I try to help out the funny men. I'm just not one of those Lilith Fair, WNBA, Lifetime Original Movie kind of gals. I don't need to see other women to make me feel better about being female. I'd rather watch The Man Show than Oprah any day.

But I did wonder who I would have listed as my favorite comedian if I had been given the chance to make up my own mind. Brian insisted they change Adam Sandler's name to mine. If I had noticed the error sooner, I would have changed Jeanene Garofalo's name to his. Of course, now everyone thinks I'm married to Jeanene Garofalo. Not that there's anything wrong with it.

Sadly, I did not make it into the next round and I won't even bother trying to convince anyone that I couldn't care less. You wouldn't believe me anyway and I wouldn't respect you if you did. In some ways it's a good thing that Brian and I both lost in our opening rounds. Now we can lick each other's wounds. And you wonder why we're each others favorite comedians? HOME Back to the Top