AUSTIN AMESTOY for the Missoulian
Comedian Andy Ivancio’s first attempt at humor on stage came when he was 9 or 10 years old in Baltimore, Maryland, winning third place in a school talent contest. A tie for third place, with a kid doing what he calls an “Irish jig.”
The Seattle-based comedian still thinks the judges got it wrong.
“There are Irish dancers all over the East Coast,” Ivancio said. “And I can say I’m Irish. I think it was my hatred of Irish jig dancing that really got me into comedy.”
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It’s a far cry from Ivancio Urkel’s impressions of elementary school talent shows. Since then, she’s performed as a transgender woman, brought her comedy to venues across the country, and recently recorded her debut EP, hard*trans, due out later this year.
His next stop: the Roxy Theater, where he’ll join Missoula comedians Charley Macorn and Rochelle Cote in a two-hour comedy showcase designed to kick off the Halloween season.
Macorn — who calls herself a “tragic badass” and uses pronouns — is the specialty programming coordinator at the Roxy Theater, where she produces monthly programs celebrating LGBTQ creators and media. He said he first recognized Ivancio’s talent when he saw him perform at the 2017 Portland Queer Comedy Festival.
“Even then it was like, ‘Holy sh… This girl is legit,'” Macorn said.
Traveling to Missoula to meet comedians is not in Macor’s job description. But when he heard Ivancio was performing in Bozeman earlier this year, Macorn said it was wrong for Garden City to miss out.
For Macorn, bringing Ivancio to the Roxy isn’t just about comedy. It’s also part of her ongoing mission to elevate voices that have been marginalized for years.
Macorn said Missoula’s comedy scene looked a lot different when she first got into the business eight years ago, which is that it’s male-dominated. Missoula comedy was still in its “infancy,” he said, with stand-up shows opening twice a month at the Union Club. But as the city’s hunger for comedians grew, so did the variety of voices delivering the jokes.
Today, comedy fans in Missoula can attend four or five shows a week, Macorn said. And he’s no longer one of the only trans comedians in town.
“I think Andy, one of the best comedians I’ve ever seen, is really, really relatable,” Macorn said.
Andy sat down with the Missulian to chat about his comedic inspiration, his upcoming EP, and what it means to “have a seat at the table.” (This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity).
How would you describe your comedy style?
I think I was labeled as “sardonic”. Being super nerdy about it. But that’s vulgar — I use a lot of four-letter words to describe 18-word sentences. I try to distill what I experience with my Pacific-Northwest brain and my East-Coast mouth—I try to combine the two.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I would say part of it is being openly transgender. In the past, I would have been the only trans person in line. Now there are more trans comedians and non-binary comedians and gender-nonconforming comedians and all these wonderful different narrative voices.
Must have to do with the fact that I’m 40 now and also trans, as opposed to “trans”, me too .” As a comedian, you try to think of what’s unique to you; talk about your personal experiences. What is strangely “unusual” about me is that I have been in a healthy relationship for 20 years.
Tell me about your upcoming EP – it’s called “hard*trance”, right?
Yes, it’s a joke that I’m also a DJ. There is a genre of dance music called “hard trance”, so “hard*trance” is a pun. It’s terrible — the EP is good, but the front pun is terrible.
The idea of recording all the trans jokes on the EP is that there isn’t a trans bar like a gay bar. So the internet is our gay bar. The idea of sharing something digitally—an album of trans jokes—is for trans people to see it online rather than meeting me in person.
How do you feel about comedians making jokes at the expense of trans people?
People say trans people can’t take a joke, but we don’t have a seat at the table to join in on the jokes some of these people make. My concern is mostly with these huge comedians who feel like they’ve been “cancelled”. I feel like they are still in business and have millions of dollars. I don’t think there are enough great trans comedians to be like, “Okay, these are great trans comedians, and they’re going to be able to roast them in a Netflix special.”
Are you on a trajectory to sit at the desk?
I’m 40 years old, taking a lunch break to talk to a newspaper in Missoula, Montana about a show I’m doing there in a week. I will never be at that table, but I hope someone will. I’m not doing this for a big Netflix thing. It would be bad if that happened.
I think it will be other people, young people, and they will be more understanding. I’m sure it will look different from anything I’ve done, and I’m sure they’ll have a TikTok account. I did not. TikTok is when I sit on the social media bench and wave at the kids for fun. That’s when I raised my voice.