Sobriety and shitty dates have never been so funny.
The midpandemic world of Zoom shows hasn’t been kind to every comic. But during the past year, Greater Boston native Cher Lynn has kept working toward success, becoming a fan favorite with the crowd at Flappers Comedy Club in Burbank, California, and performing at the Boston Comedy Festival, as she did the two years prior as well. And at last year’s festival in December, she was selected by audience members as a finalist.
Lynn has performed standup for about five years and said her transition to virtual performance felt awkward at first.
“On Zoom, you can look at the gallery view and see people, but it isn’t the same intimate setting as a bar with people right in front of you,” she says. Like other comics, the pandemic led Lynn to seek other opportunities in the comedy realm, but after deciding there were already “too many podcasts,” she grew more determined to persist through the initial discomfort. Despite the frustrating aspects—a distracting chat box, inaudible laughter, and staring into a tiny camera ring—she has mostly enjoyed the opportunity to do what she does best, even during the current complicated state of things.
Growing up in the ’90s, Lynn found the funny in popular culture. She loved Saturday Night Live and imagined herself as an entertainer. “I remember my parents would laugh so hard at Chris Farley, and I remember thinking, I want people to laugh like that at me some day,” Lynn recalls. She moved to the Los Angeles area for college and studied theater, initially believing she wanted to be an acting teacher. After college, she worked in finance and took improv classes, a passion that eventually led her to find stand-up comedy in her mid-20s.
Perhaps due to confusion around her career path, Lynn drank heavily in her post-college years, a time that she addresses with candor in her jokes.
“I was so distracted by the party scene that I don’t think I would have found comedy if I’d kept going,” she says. “Once I got sober, I realized I didn’t have much in common with my old friends, so I had to find new interests.” Her openness about her own sobriety led her to book comedy shows with a sober outreach program, where she developed connections with both fellow comics and audience members who connected to her material.
“Any time you can do something meaningful and have people come up to you after is really special,” she says. “I made jokes about being sober, and about bad relationships, and people were like, I totally get that.”
Most of Lynn’s material is personal and relatable, dealing with topics like sex and relationships throughout her sobriety.
“All of my material is the truth,” she says. “I don’t make jokes about stuff that didn’t happen.” She recalled a drug-addicted ex-boyfriend who stole her hubcaps, and another man who left one night to get a bottle of wine but never came back.
“That’s why I’m still sober,” she jokes. “I’m waiting on that bottle of wine.”
She tells another joke about a man who asked her to send a sexy photo, but she forgot to crop her snacks out of the background.
“A lot of my jokes are about trying to care about finding love at this age, but also being so completely over it,” she says.
Lynn tells jokes that are dark and self-deprecating, but never tastelessly offensive. One of her favorites? “The first and only time I’ve ever been choked during sex, I wasn’t scared or nervous,” it goes. “I was actually super excited … because the sex was so bad I was hoping he would just kill me!”
Lynn says that it took her about a year to develop a solid five-minute set before she began booking gigs at larger local venues like Nick’s Comedy Stop and the Comedy Studio. After that, she started booking festivals and out-of-state shows about two years in. Even in the virtual sphere, Lynn is continuing to perform at Flappers, at the upcoming Writers of Conan show, and at the Bottomless Mimosas & One Night Stands Virtual Brunch on Sunday, Feb 21.
“I miss live shows, but this has really made me get into writing and want to try all different things,” Lynn says. She has spent her months in quarantine taking screenwriting classes and acting classes, and self-taping auditions for commercials and performance opportunities. She has also performed several outdoor, socially distanced shows at Headliners Comedy Club in New Hampshire, with hopes that she can stay sharp when indoor clubs begin to open.
“I’m trying to stay busy writing, and trying to continue to do Zoom shows,” she says. “I’ll get rusty if I don’t.”
Maya Friedrich is Boston-based journalist and Simmons University student from Seattle. She has written a variety of pieces for The Simmons Voice, ranging from news to opinion to satire, and runs a blog on mental health discourse in entertainment media. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @mayasfriedrich.