Junior challenges herself with stand-up

Clare Sullivan studies opera performance, says comedy is difficult, fun



Clare Sullivan, a junior music performance major, talks about her routine before she attends Etsi Bravo’s Monday Night Comedy: Women Comics of the Palouse. Sullivan says she doesn’t write in a diary but uses stand-up as an emotional outlet.

RACHEL KOCH, Evergreen reporter

Hours away from a solo performance in front of a live audience, junior vocal performance major Clare Sullivan had enough reason to appear nervous or tense. However, she was all smiles Monday before her stand-up comedy routine for Women Comics of the Palouse at Etsi Bravo in Pullman.

Sullivan, 21, is studying to be an opera performer.

“I always joked that my actual dream job is to be a stand-up comic because it’s the one thing that’s less attainable than an opera singer,” she said.

Sullivan said that she had always admired stand-up comics, but never actually tried it until her friend, who is involved in WSU’s improv group Nuthouse, told her about weekly open-mic nights at Etsi Bravo last year.

Since then, Sullivan has participated in these open-mic nights whenever she can.


Clare Sullivan performs her stand-up routine at Etsi Bravo Monday Comedy Night: Women Comics of the Palouse.

She said that she sees herself doing stand-up for the rest of her life, partially for personal growth, but also as an emotional outlet.

“I don’t keep a diary, but I sort of think of stand-up as the equivalent of keeping a diary because you’re just telling a bunch of strangers stuff,” she said. “You can be really honest with them because they’re strangers.”

Sullivan also draws influence from other stand-up comics, her favorite being John Mulaney. She said even though she doesn’t copy other comics, she does share a similar sense of humor with Mulaney because of their similar backgrounds. She said one may draw comparisons between her stand-up and his.

“He grew up in the same town, he has conservative Catholic parents like me, so I relate to all of his comedy,” she said. “He has this Midwestern accent that I also have, and sometimes I just inadvertently speak like him because I hear his stuff all the time.”

Sullivan advises aspiring stand-up comics to go for it. She recommended starting out with open-mic nights the way she has, explaining that the experience can be really humbling or help to build the confidence of a newbie.

“Even if you’re on the fence, do it,” she said. “It’s really fun.”