Comediean Emma Holder has been on the Austin scene since for the last eight years, performing improv and sketch comedy for a ton of different projects.
Currently, she can be seen doing improv with Reverb, Three on a Match and Kings and performing sketch with Pendulum. Kennedy Women is her first solo sketch show, in which Emma explores the inner lives and biggest secrets of America’s greatest family via the lens of historically inaccuracy.
Hey! Is this your first Sketch Fest actually performing? Or am I completely getting that wrong. I did no research!
Emma Holder: Nope! Rattlesnake, my sketch team with Katie Sicking and Kate Bojanek performed in the second sketch fest. It’s been a while though, I’m excited to be back in Austin, Texas! (I live here).
Kennedy Women a pretty esoteric topic, as far as topics go. Where did the inspiration for the show come from?
Emma: I have always been weirdly obsessed with the Kennedys. I grew up in a Catholic, Democratic family from New England, so the Kennedys were sort of revered. I think I was drawn to the drama of their family, all the tragedy and mystery, and Jackie’s fashion. I was really obsessed with Jackie. when she died. I remember buying every magazine that was out about her and just pouring over them. When I decided to do a solo show, I didn’t want it to be about me, and I really liked the idea of taking historical figures and taking them to out of context places. I also wanted to focus on the women in the family because well, I’m a woman, but there is also a little more mystery around them because they were often in the background.
What’s the process for you like writing a solo show? Is it hard to write on your own?
Emma: I wrote two sketches first and then booked a show for myself to push me to finish it, which worked. I need deadlines, and when other people aren’t depending on me, I have trouble finding time to write. I don’t mind writing on my own, but I definitely need and appreciate other people’s feedback and notes, so I had a couple of smart, funny people give me notes and help stage it. (Courtney Hopkin, Eric Rutherford, Adam Oestrich and Lance Gilstrap, to be precise.) Their feedback and help was essential to this show coming together.
Why do a solo show?
Emma: At the time, I wasn’t in a sketch group and was sort of using that as an excuse to not write sketch. I missed writing and wanted to push myself to do something new. Now I am in Pendulum (also performing in ASF!), so I’m getting to write regularly, but I am still really glad I pushed myself to do this show and am happy with how it turned out.
Who are your influences? Who are some of your favorite sketch comedy acts performing today? Who has blown your mind?
Emma: I love Stella so much. I rewatch the show every year or so, and then write a couple of really weird sketches that are never as good as theirs. I think Amy Schumer is awesome too. I love old Nichols and May stuff. I grew up watching old SNL reruns, Kids in the Hall, and The State. I think Maya Rudolph is the funniest performer ever and would like to marry her and Paul Thomas Anderson or at least be their friend or nanny. Vanessa Gonzalez is soo soo great and I feel really lucky to know her. I have really liked all the sketch I’ve seen in years past at ASF. Girls with Brown Hair, Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting and Your Terrific Neighbors are always so great to see. I want to list about 100 other people/troupes but will chill.
What should people interested in comedy know that you didn’t know when you started?
Emma: It’s not a competition. I spent a lot of time being stuck in my head, comparing myself to others and feeling inadequate and/or guilty. It’s way more fun when you just cheer everyone on and trust that if you keep doing the work, good things will happen.
What else – comedy wise – are you looking forward to this year? What do you have cookin?
Emma: I’m very excited to be helping produce BettyFest this year (details will be coming soon, but it’s gonna be rad). I love doing improv with my troupes, Three on a Match, Kingz, and Reverb. I’m acting in a web-series called Sinergy. My sketch team, Pendulum, is adapting Our Town into a sketch show called Narrators n’ Ghosts (they have all said no to this idea 100 times but maybe if I put it in print they will agree to do it?)
We need to increase the visibility of this article. Any suggestions for a click-bait headline?
Emma: Who Dat on that Grassy Knoll? The Truth Behind the Kennedy Assassination Revealed!
You can catch Emma’s one-person show Kennedy Women, Tuesday May 24th at 8:30pm at ColdTowne Theater (
) and then stick around for the 10pm show where Emma will be performing with Pendulum (