50-for-50 interview: Annie Sertich, exquisite clown

anne sertich

I met Annie Sertich the very first night that I saw her work, at a little “blogging-standup” fundraiser organized by a mutual friend. I’d shown up nervous about following the headliner, a very funny and fairly famous name in the nerd-blogging world; by the end of the evening, every single one of us—headliner included—was grateful that Shane had made Annie go last. I became a devoted reader of her blog, where I savored the “serious” pieces at least as much as the funny ones. Whatever Annie wrote about, she did it with her all of her not inconsiderable might, breathing life into every story she told, and fearlessly illuminating the darkest corners of her past without ever crossing the line into maudlin. She is breathtaking to behold in action; I can only hope that the world keeps giving her good opportunities to do so, and that she will make her own when it is foolish enough not to.

Why did you decide to become a writer?

I think we are all writers.  Just some of us actually sit and write it down.

Who was your fav teacher? 

Dr. Dean Birch. College, Political Science Professor.

Why?

Lights up on a hot muggy August classroom smelling like hormones and Code-Red Mountain Dew. Welcome to Poly Sci 101. In walks a tall, stoic man in a full grey tweed suit with a thin silver coffee thermos. Black coffee, I’m sure. His presence immediately quieted even the most horniest of students as he proceeded to write on the board ‘Whirl is King having disposed Zeus.’ “You figure this out by the end of the course, you’ll get an A” his voice echoed over the jinky a/c. Rumored to never give A’s or really laugh, I was hooked.  And inspired, like Robin Williams without the poetry cave and the ‘standing on desk’ thing, Poly Sci became my major, Philosophy my minor and with his help, prepped for law school. Now, instead I went to ‘HA HA school’ BUT, I got one out of the three A’s given in that class and never looked back. He made me scared, smart, and learn the value of pulling all-nighters to get A’s. Dr. Birch challenged my thinking in ways Facebook never will, and he always had an extra minute (or 80) to chat about government, Zeus, or life. He even shared his coffee…once. Brilliant teacher.  Brilliant man.

What do you love to write about?

Characters. Specifics. Life. I love to write and perform sketches about weird people I see wearing ill-fitting capri pants, buying candles in Big Lots. I also love to write about shitty shit. Recently I attended a dinner party with Elmore Leonard who insisted I sit next to him.  I was stoked!!!!!!! He taught me never to use more than one exclamation mark. (He smokes Virginia Slims by the way. Kinda awesome).

What has writing taught you?

That good writing is really re-writing. Which is why this questionnaire won’t really be good because I’m not going to rewrite it.

How has writing made you strong?

I made a bet with Wil Wheaton and Shane Nickerson,two uber-funny, tragically poetic, and Starwars-tech-nerds and lost. So the punishment was I had to start a blog.  What started as a joke (although I did burn their nerd asses) led me to an entry about the death of my stepmother. Which further let me to a voice that I never shared publicly before. Later I buried my hero father unexpectedly and again, writing taught me that I could express the shit storms of life and people would respond. That writing wasn’t just for pay, for laughs, or for A’s on philosophy papers. So, those nerds and writing made ME stronger. The ME that’s beyond the actor that gets critiqued by directors, casting directors, audiences, and youtube trolls. But don’t tell Shane and Wil they helped.  They’re already cocky enough.

The go-back in time question:

You’re not as ugly as you thought.

5 favorite books/blogs/things:

The Year of Magical Thinking – Joan Didion

—@Humblebrag on twitter

Lord of the Rings shit

—My friend Johnny’s poetry

—Anything with my deceased beloved father’s handwriting on it

Annie Sertich is a main company member of the famed Groundlings theater where she performs, teaches, writes and directs. She’s appeared in shows such as CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM, BUCKET AND SKINNER’S EPIC ADVENTURES, HUNG, THE OFFICE, FRANK TV, A YOUNG PERSON’S GUIDE, VH-1 TV SECRETS, and numerous national commercials and web projects like Season 5 of THE GUILD, FOX’s SINGLE DAD and COMMUNITY POOL.  She also lent her voice to ABC FAMILY, AMERICAN IDOL, and has written for DISNEY animated show THE REPLACEMENTS and KATBOT, ROB DYRDEK’S FANTASY FACTORY on MTV, THE GAME SHOW NETWORK, IFC, ABC Family (web), THE ADVENTURES OF JOLLY BLAST, and HOWARD STERN RADIO and a ton of commercial copy and jokes for a website during the ‘we have a ton of money and we’re gonna make a website’ craze. She’s currently writing a book. She also has a website and a blog.

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