Comedian arises from unlikely place




Emma Willmann does not come from the most likely of communities to generate a stand-up comedian.

Willmann, who appears Comix at Mohegan Sun from July 12 to 14, came from Blue Hills, Maine—a town with a population of about 2,600 that lies about halfway up the coastline of the Pine Tree State. Her comedy, which has brought her onto television show like “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “Crashing” and performances on “Late Show,” often evokes the foibles of small town life.

In a phone interview, Willmann said standup comic wasn’t necessarily on her list of career goals growing up.


When she was younger, Willmann said she did know she liked to entertain people.

She was outgoing. She was a member of student government.

“I was the fat, funny kid,” Willmann said.

But that was it. No one, including herself, painted her as someone who would headline at Mohegan Sun.

The stand-up comedy ball began to roll slowly when her parents got divorced, said Willmann.

In order to encourage Willmann to visit, she said her father got cable television.

With this conduit of entertainment, Willmann said she watched hip-hop videos and she became fascinated with word play.

But still, standup comedy was foreign to Willmann in Blue Hills, Maine.

Willmann’s first visit to a comedy club—to see stand-up in a live setting—didn’t come until after college. But still, there was no spark saying, “Hey, that’s the job for me.”

The chord for stand-up comedy finally was struck when Willmann went to a party. A woman at the party went into the corner and started doing an impromptu stand-up routine. It was a bad routine. But all the same, Willmann said she was fascinated by it.

Eventually, Emma started going to open mikes to try her hand at stand-up. She went to comedy classes to sharpen her skills.

Although she still had no firm thoughts of following stand-up as a career, Willmann said she was open to the possibility. As someone with dyslexia, she thought it was a good back-up plan for a career.

Now, firmly entrenched into the world of comedy—either on television or at clubs, Willmann said she wouldn’t know what to do if she didn’t entertain crowds.

With her dyslexia, Willmann said, “My only other (career) option is a greeter at Walmart.”

Willmann’s comedy focuses on her personal life. She talks about her dyslexia. She also speaks about being a gay woman from a small town.

“I try to keep it pretty personal,” said Emma. “That’s part of my life”—albeit exaggerated for comic effect.

“I’m just as problematic as the person next to me.”

Audiences like this approach because they can relate her jokes to their own lives, said Willmann.

Keeping it personal also is not just about relating to an audience, said Willmann. She finds it therapeutic for herself.

“I personally like doing self-deprecating stuff… that’s what I find funny.”

When audiences come to Comix, Willmann said, “It’s just a good time… It’s not too heavy… I’m not going to lecture you… It’s high energy… There will be a few moments where you say, ‘I can’t believe she said that.”

But, Willmann said, “It’s just fun.”

Emma Willmann will appear at Comix at Mohegan Sun, Uncasville July 12 to 14. Performances are Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 7:30 and 10:30 p.m.

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Emma Willmann will perform at Comix at the Mohegan Sun starting next Thursday for four performances.