LA Comic Alison Stevenson Discusses Her Debut Album 'Eat Me'
Feminist writer, dope comedienne, and KINDLAND contributor Alison Stevenson spoke with us about her album 'Eat Me.'
I met Alison Stevenson just before the summer of my second year living in Los Angeles. I was, at the time, on the brink of what would become a years-long descent into depression that I’m just now climbing out from. Back then, and with Alison's help, I was only just beginning to learn how to pitch magazine editors and what it really meant to live and work as a writer in L.A.
That summer Alison kept me sane. We were lightning bugs and night owls: Staying up late into the early morning hours, smoking cigarettes, and drifting drunk and high in and out of Eastside bars and dirty strip clubs on Santa Monica Boulevard. Alison took me to Tokyo Music on Ventura, Jewish bakeries in the Valley where we'd eat rugelach, and to Hooters in Burbank in the middle of the afternoon. She sent me long text messages, probably called me a "fuckboy" at least twice, made me hummus with way too much garlic in it, and taught me how to find, live, and own a “personal brand.” Alison helped me book my first real photography jobs, introduced me to other young creatives, told jokes about me at Echo Park Rising, and answered my phone calls when virtually nobody else would.
Alison is a real friend in a city of fiends and people I don’t know. And she’s one hell of a comic.
Fast forward to the here and now: Alison has made a real name for herself as a writer and comedian. Her work, which you can find on VICE, Uproxx, XOJane, Broadly, Munchies, and Glamour, among other media sites and publications, continues to inspire me and many others. She recently dropped her first comedy album, "Eat Me," which is why it’s only natural that I asked Alison to teach me a few more things.
KINDLAND: So what's up, Alison? What's the deal with this new album?
Alison Stevenson: Nothing much at all, other than this album I guess. It’s a stand up album, I don’t know. It’s the material I’ve been doing for the past few years, an accumulation of the bits I’m most passionate about. I thought it’d be a good idea to record them and let them exist on the Internet. You know, so it can be more accessible.
KINDLAND: What are some of the topics you explore on it?
Alison Stevenson: It’s mostly about my love life. The bullshit I’ve dealt with and some other stuff mixed in. Body image, etc. I included a little story about the time I had a sex slave. Fun stuff like that. It’s an album that’s not afraid to touch on the “cliché” topics women often get shit for talking about. I don’t give a shit, frankly. I want to talk about sex, dating, even my goddamn period.
Alison Stevenson and Megan Koester on stage at the Hollywood Improv. Photo: Ben Parker Karris
KINDLAND: What is the message behind the comedy in “Eat Me”?
Alison Stevenson: A lot of my stand up is centered around the things I write about. I want this album to be cathartic for women who have the same frustrations I do when it comes to this current age of sex and dating. Casual sex is dope, as is no-strings-attached dating—if it’s done right. I think the biggest problem in this modern age of Tinder is miscommunication. If men and women can be more honest about their intentions and what they want out of one another, all of this sex stuff can be done a lot more easily, with a lot less hurt feelings. That means no more ghosting, no more lying, and no more gaslighting.
KINDLAND: Wait, what is gaslighting?
Alison Stevenson: It’s when you manipulate someone into questioning their sanity. That’s the more legit definition. My personal interpretation of it, when it comes to heterosexual dating, has to do with the pressure women feel to subdue emotions and to self-blame for shitty behavior we experience by men. It’s subtle, but it’s basically when we get told shit like, “I’m sorry you feel that way,” “chill out,” “you’re overreacting,” when we express any sort of sadness or hurt because of something our partner said or did. We’re made to feel like we’re being “crazy” if we stand up for ourselves, basically.
KINDLAND: Ok, continue...
Alison Stevenson: Well, stand up for me is very therapeutic in the sense that I feel I have this space I can freely talk about these things and, of course, see the humor in all of it. It helps so much to look at things from that perspective. Like, “Okay this sucks, but how do I make it funny?”
KINDLAND: What advice would you give to young and aspiring comediennes hoping to break into the game?
Power through. Go with your gut instincts and don’t let others' criticisms affect you. Comedy is a boys club, and I have seen so many women give up after being made to feel unfunny by men. We tend to feel like the material we dive into is “silly” or somehow less important. We’re taken less seriously, and that’s a huge hurdle to have to power through. But do it. Keep going, and struggle at those open mics. It sucks for a while but then it gets better. Surround yourself with other women in your local comedy community and truly support one another.
KINDLAND: How high are you right now?
Alison Stevenson: Umm, on a scale of one to ten, maybe like four? I’m too much of a neurotic Jew to go past that.
KINDLAND: How has the scene for women comics in L.A., or I guess in general, evolved since you first became involved in comedy?
Alison Stevenson: I’ve noticed in more recent years how much more supportive women are of one another. We’re here for each other in a way I did not really experience my first few years of stand up. A lot more of us are realizing how important it is to help one another in an industry that easily tries to pit us against each other.
KINDLAND: Who are some of your influences, or other dope comediennes to be on the lookout for?
Alison Stevenson: Women I see doing big things soon: Megan Koester, Clare O’Kane, Anna Seregina, Caitlin Gill, Danielle Radford, and Danielle Perez. Lady to Lady is an amazing podcast hosted by three of my favorite comedians in the scene: Barbara Gray, Brandie Posey, and Tess Barker. God there are so many. I feel bad because I know I am leaving so many people out. I look up to Emily Heller and Eliza Skinner. Kate Berlant is another favorite. Debra Digiovanni is another one. I could go on forever.
KINDLAND: What's your next move?
Alison Stevenson: I have no clue! I’m definitely going to keep performing and writing. I want a book deal. Someone give me that.
See more of Alison's work, and buy "Eat Me," here.