‘Let me just embarrass myself’

Local comedian talks about sorority life, sex and privilege



Ella Tudor, WSU alumna and stand-up comedian, performs at Etsi Bravo for their Monday Night Comedy Local Spotlight on May 6.

MAGGIE QUINLAN, Evergreen reporter

A few years ago Ella Tudor lay in bed shivering, communally sleeping at her sorority at WSU with open windows in January.

In her stand-up set at Etsi Bravo earlier this month, she painted a picture of her sorority experiences: not masturbating for a year, trying to organize “bitches hanging from the rafters,” at 9 p.m. and literally shattering her liver.

“When I die and inevitably go to hell I’m gonna walk straight back to that sorority house,” Tudor said to the crowd.

Tudor isn’t afraid to talk about things other people would never say out loud, her mom Elizabeth Peila said. Tudor said she works not to alienate her audience with insulting jokes but she has to walk a fine line. Her set at Etsi covered the challenges of being short, teens drinking in public parks and her dog’s ability to kill the mood.

“My dog’s a little bit of a c— but she’s a great judge of character,” Tudor said during her performance.

Tudor graduated from WSU in May 2018 with a degree in economics. Now she’s an office manager in Pullman and planning to switch tracks to pursue comedy.

“I don’t want to crunch numbers for 50 weeks a year,” she said.

Tudor plans to move back to the west side of the state to expand her comedy’s reach, but she said Pullman’s small community gave her the unique opportunity to perform long sets. Her headlining show at Etsi earlier this month was sold out and her set was 45 minutes long.

She said in Seattle a newcomer could never get that much time on stage, but she was nervous to do stand-up in Pullman. She first tried stand-up at an open mic in Seattle as a New Year’s resolution four months before she graduated. She didn’t start performing in Pullman until this February.

By April, Tudor won the second annual Palouse Comedy Cup, competing against 17 local acts. Peila said Tudor was a comedian from birth. Her daughter, as a woman of color and with a smaller stature, had to find ways to assert herself subtly, she said.

“[She] doesn’t put up with much guff and she found a way to speak back to people in a way that was comical and yet was very clear that she wasn’t messing around,” Peila said. “That’s a fine art, especially to learn at a young age.”

Tudor’s act made sly commentary on privilege, gender and race relations. She told the audience she enjoyed the idea of becoming a serial killer who only targets attractive white college-age men. She said it would cause a stir.

“You’d get on social media and it would be like, ‘if you are a young attractive white man make sure you don’t walk alone, travel in groups,’ ” she said. “We have a crazed killer on the loose, the police have deemed her The Privilege Taker.”

Tudor also made a point to make fun of herself. She admitted to skills in Facebook stalking. She said it can be awkward to keep her knowledge about a man under wraps on the first date.

“Usually people don’t put if they’re serial killers on their Facebook, but you can kind of just tell,” Tudor said.

Tudor delved into every personal part of her life, including her new vegan diet. She also told the story of how she lost her virginity.

She told the audience that people ask about her parents’ approval. Tudor said she has a unique family and jokes with her parents too. Her mother Peila said she’s waiting to go to a show. She said a young comedian should be able to tell any story without worrying about family in the audience.

She said she’s proud of her daughter. There aren’t enough women of color in comedy, she said.

Tudor’s ready for her act to get bigger, but before she moves to the west side in the next year, she’ll be performing more in Pullman.

“I can’t believe that there’s so many people here,” she said to Etsi’s crowd. “So let me just embarrass myself for a little bit.”