When Seattle comedian Danielle Radford got the opportunity to open for Dave Chappelle at the Moore Theatre last month, the only thing on her mind was to avoid falling flat on her face. Radford, who’s been performing stand up for six years, not only managed to stay on her feet, but was able to get some big laughs — especially when she told an anecdotal story about attending a butterfly-themed wedding with a pastor who was dressed more like a pimp.
Radford is among 32 comedians entered in the Seattle International Comedy Competition, which runs Nov. 6 through Dec. 31. A full schedule with complete bios for all competitors is available here. Radford will perform on Nov. 6 at the Columbia City Theater in the preliminary week of the competition and was gracious enough to answer a few questions via email.
Name: Danielle Radford
Base of Operations: Seattle
Age: Same as Beyoncè
How did you get the chance to open for Dave Chappelle?
Radford: Live Nation contacted talent agent Ron Reid. He’s the go-to guy up here, and he recommended me. I got the call from him while I was walking up hill on the way home from work. We’ll just pretend the phone call was the only reason I was breathless.
What was it like to get laughs from that large of a crowd?
Radford: Making people laugh is the best feeling in the world, no matter the size of the crowd. Getting a giggle from one person is enough to make me light-headed and giddy, let alone thousands at once. All I could think when I left the stage was “don’t trip over your shoes, don’t trip over your shoes.”
How old were you when you decided you’d try comedy and what spawned that?
Radford: I was in my mid 20s. One of my roommates had been doing open mics, and he encouraged me to start. I’d just gone through a break up and hadn’t experienced enough rejection, I guess.
What was that first time on stage like?
Radford: I went onstage expecting to have to bribe the people in my life to never speak of it again, but I got a lot of laughs. The Sandman didn’t sweep me off the stage, so I went back the next night and every night after that.
Is comedy a full-time job and if not what do you do to pay the rent?
Radford: I used to be a paralegal full time, but it was really demanding work so I quit to focus on comedy. Now I work a part time job at a call center, which is the most boring sentence anyone has ever written.
Do you have a favorite spot or a certain night you prefer for performances and why?
Radford: I love any spot on any night if the people there are expecting comedy. A lot of times I’ll do a show somewhere and the crowd has NO idea it was going to happen. They all came out to get drunk, talk to their friends and watch the game and then, SURPRISE! STAND UP!
I love performing literally anywhere at anytime, so long as I don’t feel like I’m assaulting polite strangers with sudden spoken word.
What’s the best way to handle a heckler? Do you have a go-to response?
Radford: Hecklers aren’t that mean in Seattle; they just want to make it all about them. It’s best to shut them down quickly and move on.
Every dateless man who’s ever heckled me bought me a drink immediately following the show, which is a terrible plan. You can just buy me booze, dudes. No need to make me embarrass you in public first. Unless that’s what you’re into. In which case, there are websites for that, stop interrupting when mama’s talking.
Can you share a one liner?
Radford: My credit score is so low that it isn’t made of numbers, it’s just some dude who hits you in the face for asking.
Jeff Albertson: firstname.lastname@example.org