Valerie Lopez, the executive producer, podcast host and an interviewer with Comedy Wham, became a super fan of the Austin comedy scene about 10 years ago.
“I got divorced, and I needed therapy – and I needed cheap therapy. And I started going to comedy shows all the time,” she said. “I started becoming curious about the lives of comics offstage just as much as what they were sharing with us on stage. And that’s how the podcast was born.”
Comedy Wham started off as a blog to promote Austin comedy shows, then in 2016 grew into a podcast that has now interviewed over 200 guests. It’s also an events page for comedy shows in Austin, Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth.
“It’s really a conversation. I’m curious, and I want to know what has it been like for comics and their career, how they started out, achieving milestones and how that’s affected them,” Lopez said. “It’s always a very positive conversation. And I want the comics to feel like, you know, they’re just talking to a good friend.”
Lopez said some of the conversations have been very serious, and she holds those close to her heart.
“I got an opportunity to talk to Scott Thompson of Kids in the Hall; been a big fan of Kids in the Hall,” she said. “I couldn’t believe that I got to talk to him, and he shared some pretty heavy, emotional things about his experience as a queer comic in the comedy industry.”
The pandemic was really painful for comics because they typically work in the service industry when they’re starting out, and so their sources of income completely dried up, Lopez said.
“And then you saw the the cropping up of Zoom shows everywhere. Some comics latched onto that as a way to perform, and others just couldn’t do it,” she said. “It’s a very divisive topic to talk about, the Zoom comedy shows. Some people were all for it; some were very against it.”
During the pandemic, Comedy Wham came up with the idea of doing an online comedy show to ask for donations and put a little bit of money back into the comics’ pockets, Lopez said.
“We were working with a great host, Colton Dowling, and he had a huge national network of comedy fans,” she said. “So we were able to get comics not just from Austin but across the country to participate.”