Scrappy Olive Lynch
The comic balances glib humor with grace
Comedian Olive Lynch may not be super versed in the Star Wars franchise but she certainly knows how to call out weirdo social media nuances and wax poetic on the excrement of woodland creatures. In addition to stages all over the city, Lynch is a show-runner of Smith's Olde Bar's legendary 1AM Secret Show. CL got with the sharp-tongued comic to chat about procrastination, dickheads, and Rosario Dawson's great taste in perfume.
Your comedy calls out chauvinism with eloquence. How do you decide what politics make it into your work?
It's pretty simple: First, I look at what politics are in my butt, and then I pull it out in the form of jokes.
But for reals, thank you! I have more than one joke about squirrel poop, so being called eloquent is a pleasant surprise. I wouldn’t consider capital P "Politics" to be the bulk of my material. My only agenda is to be funny. But my writing pulls from my life, and like most women, my well of experience runs deep with dickheads.
Tell me about your writing process.
If I’m writing a sketch or essay, I like to do this thing where I wait until the last possible moment then cry on a piece of paper until it looks like jokes. Blind panic as fuel has been positively reinforced my whole life, so why stop now?
As far as stand-up, it’s a constant process. If I get an idea for a premise I write it down in one of my 7,000 scrap notebooks, then go to an open mic and see if it works. If something seems to have traction then I’ll move it into the yellow notebook and try to flesh it out. Usually that means yelling it out at my roommate while she’s trying to study. Sometimes I’ll put on a hat and do the whole coffee shop mysterious-writer-in-the-corner-who-is-definitely-too-charming-to-be-writing-about-squirrel-poop thing. Then I’ll take the new stuff to a different open mic and repeat the process. Pretty standard, I think.
A lot of times I don’t figure out my punch lines until I’m actually on stage. There’s just a different energy that working a crowd gives you. It opens up doors you might not be able to get to staring at a blank page trying to force it. Plus I am — and I can’t emphasize this enough — extremely lazy.
How does Atlanta's comedy scene foster its talent?
Stand-up is weird. It’s not a team sport. At the end of the day you’re on your own up there. Which is why, counterintuitively, I think it breeds strong communities. It’s not new information that stand-up attracts a bunch of weirdos. When dorks find their tribe, they hold the eff on. Kinda like a bunch of drowning rats clinging to each other in a giant writhing ball. At the end of the day, they aren’t all gonna make it. But if they just keep lifting each other up and being lifted in turn, they’re going to get really strong. A ball of super strong, giant beefed-up rats. The ocean is the entertainment industry. Comics are the rats.
What makes Atlanta great is that ocean isn’t so big (yet). Atlanta gives comics time to really grow without being tainted by the industry too fast. If you’re funny, ready to put work in, and not a jerk, people wanna help. The more funny people in Atlanta, the better it is for all of us.
But my writing pulls from my life, and like most women, my well of experience runs deep with dickheads.
The 1AM Secret Show at Smith's keeps seemingly getting better. How did you get involved with the series? Any ~saucy stories~ to share?
Aw, shucks! The 1AM is kinda the traveling pants of Atlanta comedy. It’s been through a few different venues and show-runners. Before us, a comic named John-Michael Bond ran it. He lives in L.A. now, but for three years he basically killed himself building up the show every week. When he moved he asked me, David Perdue, and Anthony Driver to come on and co-produce it. We’ve all put in a lot of work to continue that momentum — but it’s also an easier gig now there are three of us.
As far as why he asked me specifically to be involved, I’d like to think its because I'm a funny little squirt. But also, kids, remember to always bring pens and paper and don’t do too many drugs and people will remember and let you run shit.
The majority of my saucy stories about the 1AM, besides the fact that it’s always rad as hell and you should come, are probably too NSFW to print. I gave Rosario Dawson directions to the bathroom once and she smelled very nice. It was probably some perfume poor people aren’t allowed to know about but hey, Rosario, if you see this what was it cause it’s driving me nuts?
I also got to see Craig Robinson play a set of improvised jazz songs on a toy keyboard, which sounds like a dream you’d have after eating too much spicy food but it was real, dammit!
What else has been in the works for you?
I’m going to be the resident comic at the Laughing Skull Comedy Lounge all November, which is pretty tight. I'm also co-producing a show called 50 First Jokes for January 6 at the Highland Ballroom. Basically we get 50 of the best comics in Atlanta to come on stage and tell the first joke they’ve written in the new year. The concept was created by John F O’Donnell ... and it’s kinda like the big "kick-off show" of the comedy year. They do one in New York and Los Angeles and I think Denver now, too. Anyway, I’m really excited about it and if you miss it, you’re dead to me.