Julia Wiedeman Talks Body Image, Onstage Nudity and “NAKED PEOPLE” at the Upright Citizens Brigade

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A woman who dares to get onstage, naked and unapologetically confident, to talk about her life, her feelings and her body?

Sign me up.

Julia Wiedeman isn’t shy. And thank goodness she’s not, because her confidence has resulted in her comedy show “NAKED PEOPLE.” Wiedeman, who has performed on stage and screen, is back onstage at the Upright Citizens Brigade on Wednesday night, performing her one-woman show show “NAKED PEOPLE,” which she describes as “an uncensored, full frontal look at naked. T❋ts, ❋ss, no sh❋me.”

Written and performed by Wiedeman, “NAKED PEOPLE” examines both physical and emotional nudity through sketches, video interviews, and on-stage exposures. The show premiered in December 2011 and has received positive critical attention in New York as well as acceptance in the Women in Comedy Festival in Boston, MA. Before departing to Beantown, Wiedeman discussed her show, her work, her body and much more.

How do you decide on material for your routines? Where do you draw your inspiration?

I draw my inspiration from nothing more complicated than my life. The people and things that make me feel funny or uncomfortable or buoyant or strong, however bizarre or self involved or idiotic it is, I use myself as a spring board. It took me years to realize that it is as simple as putting a mirror up to yourself to find the stuff that I was excited to write about, and once I did NAKED PEOPLE came out. And once it was out of me, I was inspired by the dedication of my director, Angela Dee, who is responsible for nurturing my work as though it was her own.

How do you find audiences respond to your materials?

People have been inordinately supportive and dare I say inspired! I love each and every person that has approached me, beaming, so happy to tell me that they were there, they saw it, they told their friends, they want to do it too! Within the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and beyond the comedy community, we were able to find a supportive and caring home for the work. Before writing NAKED PEOPLE, I was going to other people’s shows and telling them how they inspired me and I feel very lucky to have created something that makes people feel the way I felt.

Plus, people are always surprised to see tits that belong to a woman at a comedy show.

Have you seen disparities in how audiences respond to female comedians compared to male comedians?

I have not experienced any blatantly negative responses (save for the comments section when I was photographed filming a promo at Fashion Week last year and that was only normal nastiness about the way I look).

NAKED PEOPLE is a live comedic show that people don’t expect to be what it is, but I can imagine that if the show reached a larger audience like Lena Dunham on HBO, the show would be attacked for all sorts of dum dum reasons. Women in comedy have to contend with idiots that only want to talk about the shape of our tits and bottoms because they are threatened by the fact that we are more than tits and bottoms. I love my tits and all the rest of my bits, but there is more to talk about. I’ve never watched “Workaholics” on Comedy Central but I have a feeling that three dudes working in an office received zero backlash.

Please share your thoughts on the idea that “women aren’t funny” and how that idea has perpetuated throughout our culture.

The idea has perpetuated throughout our culture for the same reason that my sister and I drive each other crazy sometimes: People like to press each other’s buttons.

Barf on this question and me answering it.

Please share your thoughts on body image and insecurity in current culture.

We have been taught to dislike the goods we have been born with. Big or small, every man, woman, and even child can tell you something that they “hate” and want to change about their appearance. It’s wrapped up in shame: the shit your Mom said to you once when you first put on a bathing suit or the rules the magazines are filled with for being a woman or the way the commercials tell you you’re not truly happy until you get smaller, thinner, faster, younger, and the TV shows and news reinforces it all with product placement and cooking segments. We are creatures of habit and it’s simply easier to keep on being hateful to ourselves, dissatisfied and embarrassed and ashamed of our hippy hips or thunder thighs or wobbly chin or chipped tooth than to look in the mirror and say, “Hey, I love you.” We waste so much time on shaming ourselves for what, more often than not, cannot be helped. Let’s be healthy and strong, sure, but not through shame and self hate.

Following Seth MacFarlane’s routine at the Oscars, please share your thoughts on objectifying women for the sake of comedy.

I just think that it’s sad that the night’s routine was the best that the team that produced the Oscars could come up with. I liked the “We saw your boobs” song, but by the end of the show it all seemed a little desperate.

I am not all up in arms about the Oscars because I am not threatened by anybody who jokes about tits as though that is all women are good for. As though our power could be taken away by the mention of our naked bodies! As though! We give them the power if we play into the shame. They cannot take it from us if we embrace ourselves.
Women in the arts might do well to remember that the bullies are usually more frightened than we are. Misogyny just proves that they are scared. Very very scared.

Do you ever experience pre or during performance jitters? If so, how do you deal with them?

If ever I get nervous before a show it usually manifests itself in a quick sob and then I buck up, kick the air, and remember that I have nothing to worry about because I am right where I love to be. For me, getting nervous is usually the result of not getting enough sleep, so I try to be good about getting to bed however impossible it might be with late night comedy shows to see and do!

One Response to Julia Wiedeman Talks Body Image, Onstage Nudity and “NAKED PEOPLE” at the Upright Citizens Brigade

  1. Jan Christensen says:

    “We give them the power if we play into the shame” is a statement with universal resonance. It should be hung above every bathroom mirror in the land so that any woman, man, or child who needs it can have their self-worth and courage bucked up before heading out into the world each day.