We all move through life enduring our own unending, internal monologues, but is yours about a fictional whirlwind romance with Jack Nicholson? No? That’s why they let other people do the comedy.
One of the first big-name female comedians to come through Missoula, Mary Houlihan, will take the stage of the Roxy Theater on Feb. 9 with her one-woman show, “Me and Jack.” Houlihan, 29, is a comedian based out of New York City. Her comedy career began in 2012 with stand-up, and now she works as a successful alt-comedian with a unique style, perhaps best known for her appearances on “Billy on the Street with Billy Eichner.” Most comedians talk about their personal lives, but Houlihan creates her own characters with monologues about their fictional lives.
Her one-woman show, “Me and Jack,” is a parody of the movies “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and “New York, New York,” both of which feature themes of romance and roads to stardom. Houlihan’s show explores her climb to Hollywood fame and, yes, her romance with now 82-year-old Jack Nicholson’s whirlwind romance and her climb into Hollywood fame.
Houlihan mostly performs in New York and Philadelphia, but “Me and Jack” has opened up opportunities for travel.
“I was a little bit scared to do that because I thought, ‘Oh don’t you need to have a million fans in the city you’re visiting?,’” Houlihan said. “But, it turns out you don’t, and people will come.”
In addition to NYC and Philly, Houlihan has brought “Me and Jack” to stages in New Jersey, Buffalo and Rochester. This summer, she plans to go international with the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland.
Houlihan’s decision to come to the Zoo was made easy when local comedian Sarah Aswell’s comedic colleague, Nick Ryan, responded to a tweet Houlihan put out asking for people to bring her to their towns. This will be her first time in Missoula.
“Making people laugh is just the best feeling,” Sarah Aswell, 37, said. “The reason people laugh is because they feel a connection with the person who is making them laugh.”
Ever since her husband dared her to try stand-up comedy a few years ago, Aswell hasn’t stopped. Now she hosts an open women and nonbinary comedy workshop on the last Wednesday of every month at the Badlander. Along with fellow comedians Ryan Cole and Nick Ryan, Aswell just started Revival, the comedy promotion company hosting Houlihan.
“Mary is a perfect first person for us to have,” Aswell said. “Mary’s really weird, she’s a real oddball, and her comedy is innovative and different.”
Aswell hopes that by bringing Houlihan to Missoula and hosting workshops, she will encourage the local female and nonbinary communities to be more open, to speak up and to “inject humor back into their lives.”
Houlihan said she loves comedy because she loves being creative and making things, and the most fun way to do that is with humor.
“I think maybe my message would be there’s an audience for everything, so just make what you want to make and don’t feel like you have to conform to a particular style that already exists,” Houlihan said.
Aswell’s mission is to bring more diversity to the comedy scene in Missoula. “The human experience isn’t just the straight white male experience,” she said. “It’s people of different ages and races and orientations, and the sooner we can have all those stories on stage, the better.”
Houlihan will perform at The Roxy on Saturday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m. and at 9 p.m. Additionally, there will be a free comedy workshop for women and nonbinary folks on the same afternoon, details to be announced. Tickets cost $13 in advance and $16 the day of, and there will be merchandise for sale. Burns Street Bistro is sponsoring.