Head-driven female comedians to take Witching Hour stage

Liza Treyger and Janelle James take the Englert stage as part of The Witching Hour Festival, bringing their own unique stories and jokes

Adrian Enzastiga, Arts Reporter

Lights illuminate a hazy, practically empty stage. There is a single microphone, a lame wooden stool with a bottle of water sitting on top, and maybe some drums for only display. The stage is probably backed by a rundown brick wall or an excessively bright red curtain. This stage is one perfectly set for a standup comedian. Or better yet, two standup comedians.

Standup comedians Liza Treyger and Janelle James will be performing at Englert Theater on Saturday as part of this year’s Witching Hour Festival. Tickets are $15 if bought in advance and will be $20 at the door. Day passes to the whole Witching Hour weekend are also available at $20 for students.

From jokes to punchlines, Treyger and James both said that they enjoy the freedom that comedian work offers.

“I can do and say whatever I want, and that’s been my life goal forever,” James said. “I’ve always wanted to have a job where no one tells you want to do. I work little, or in whatever way I want to, all the time.”

Treyger said she addresses her audiences directly.

“It’s like when you have a one-sided phone conversation,” she said. “You’re gonna feel like I’m talking directly to you because I am.”

As a comedian, Treyger said she is never finished working on her show.

“I’m always trying to be doing something new and fun. I just kind of mix and match as it goes on in the show, I don’t really plan it.” Treyger said. “I don’t wanna have a pinpointed plan. I wanna see how things work and how they glide. I just like to go up and be in the moment.”

A comedian’s job is to have strong opinions on almost anything, according to Treyger, and she reflects this judgement in her comedy.

“If you are not angered by the patriarchy and white supremacy of this country, you’re a f*cking idiot, and I’m gonna make you realize it through my jokes,” she said. “I also just talk about myself and doing drugs and having sex, so it’s not a total lecture.”

While her team member is very passionate about the specific jokes, James seems to take it more lowkey.

“I’m not really trying to change the world or anything. I’m just trying to be funny,” she said. “It’s a job. It’s less fantastical than people think it is.”

James has been doing comedy for nine years and has a permanent foot in standup.

“Comedy is cool in that you can do so many other things as well,” she said. “You can do standup, you can write. But standup is my sh*t.”

Treyger said she was once reprimanded for her “man-hating material” but has dealt with hate from men throughout her almost ten years as a comedian.

“I sat with these dudes every day in a comedy club for years, and you realize they’re disgusting, awful people, a lot of them, so that’s where the opinions come from,” Treyger said. “I wouldn’t think that white male comics are babies, but I’ve seen them complain and b*tch and moan constantly. It all comes from experience.”

Treyger shares her opinions, but does not wish to discuss politics while performing standup.

“I don’t think what’s happening in our government is funny at all. I would not write jokes about it. It’s not where I find my joy,” Treyger said. “I refuse to spend my time on stage that I worked hard to get to talk about f*cking maniacs.”

Instead, Treyger has a different motivation for doing comedy.

“I just never wanted to have a job working not for me, that’s not really what I like to do. It’s really cool that I figured out a way to do it. Everything that everyone told me as a kid was wrong,” Treyger said. “I do standup because it’s fun and it’s my dream and it’s what I like doing.”