Turning Unwanted Dick Pics Into Art With Jo Anna Van Thuyne

Each week in Give A Little Bit, we talk to funny people — comics, writers, cartoonists, senators — about the first time they got a laugh and a bunch of other things about their life. 

This week, writer and performer Jo Anna Van Thuyne discusses unwanted dick pics, losing her writing journal and making it “her year.” 

Your first bit…

Of course, the first bit that got me a substantial laugh was about unwanted dick pics. A few years ago, I had to create a Facebook Page because I kept getting anonymous dick pics through Facebook messenger. Instead of publicly shaming the assailants, or sending a feminist laced rebuttal to their balls– I took it to the stage.

My main problem with dick pics is their purpose. What are they for? What do guys hope to get out of them? I explore these questions with my audience, and I’m still tweaking the routine to this day. You’re always tweaking your material. You have to in order to get it right. The dick pic bit still isn’t quite right–but I use it as a closer anyway!

Your writing process is…

I don’t designate a time of day to write my stand up. Something usually happens to me that gives me a reaction and I need to write it down. Exercise helps me get my thoughts going, and ideas just bombard me. I can never predict when the jokes will come. I even keep a waterproof pad of paper and pencil in the shower for when I have ideas. When I had a roommate it was pretty awkward. I guess seeing the phrase, “How do you make friends?” scrawled onto a soaking wet notepad brings a relaxing hot shower down a bit.
I can’t sit and write “jokes” at a computer, but when it’s time to write a script or pen a memoir I have to force myself to sit and get it out of me. That’s when my office comes in handy, but I’m perfectly happy outside in a quiet spot. I have to admit– I have terrible habits when it comes to writing longer pieces. I’m hoping to change those vices and write even more in 2017!

Your influences are…

I grew up watching a lot of Mel Brooks, and as I got older I started watching stand up by George Carlin and Robin Williams, and my first childhood crush was Jim Carrey. I looked up to people like Whoopi Goldberg, Ellen Degeneres, and Carol Burnett–and I loved the adorable edge Sarah Silverman brought to her work. I moved to NY after reading Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, and I was inspired to take classes at UCB.

In college, I produced and hosted a satire news show called Lampoonery News for my college’s cable channel. It was a mix of The Daily Show and Weekend Update. For years, I religiously watched Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert during the week, and saw Tina Fey sling truth bombs regularly on SNL. It was a golden time.

As a filmmaker, I’ve always been drawn to the horror genre, and I’ve always believed comedy and horror were cousins. Tim Burton’s dark humor molded me in my youth, and Young Frankenstein will always be a benchmark in my life. Sam Raimi, Edgar Wright, and J.J. Abrams also know how to mesh my favorite genres together–but I think it’s about time a woman stepped into the mix. *wink wink*

How you keep it all together…

Weed….

also,  I have a small leather bound book I carry with me, and I’ve piled various jokes and ideas into it. There’s something about actually writing something down that makes it feel like a worthwhile idea. Even though I’ve had it for a few years I’ve had my fair share of scares. I have left it in the rain, and I accidentally left it at UCB East once. (Thank YOU lost and found) My chest would explode if I ever lost it.

You wish you wrote…

Nick Kroll and John Mulaney’s Oh Hello on Broadway was like watching da Vinci paint the Sistine Chapel after a night of heavy drinking and questionable decisions. It was beautiful, and I laughed the entire time.

You can tell that Nick Kroll and John Mulaney worked on these characters for years, and it just shows that time gives comedy power. The more you work on something–the stronger it gets. The show had me laughing from curtain up to curtain down. It also looked like a ton of fun to perform–which is awesome.

A new bit…

Just like everyone at the start of a new year –I’m determined to make it “my year”! That means being as creative and held accountable as possible. I have a number of characters that I would love to bring to life, and I’ve written a few shorts and a web series. I’m just waiting for the right money moment to come along.

Jo Anna Van Thuyne is an actor, comedian, and producer residing in New York. Her column, Why Can’t We Be Friends?, posts every Thursday. Check her Snapchat/Twitter/Insta @JoPincushion.

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