At mediabistro.com’s Dessert and Discourse event for women’s magazine editors earlier this month, moderator Sara Benincasa guided the conversation about digital content creation with humor and an expert command of the issues at hand.
At one point she warned all of the women in attendance that “the cattiness” was about to come out as she asked panelists to talk about specific Web sites that were doing things wrong.
Benincasa, a stand up comedienne known for her side-splitting impressions of Sarah Palin during the election last year, has more moderating duties on tap. This week, she’ll lead a panel at Mediabistro’s UGCX conference in New York on entertainment media on the Web, featuring blip.tv’s co-founder Justin Day and director of content development Eric Mortensen.
Benincasa took time out of her busy work schedule to talk to FishbowlNY about her career, her life as a media panel moderator and where you can find her beyond the mediabistro.com stage.
FishbowlNY: How did you get into stand up comedy?
Sara Benincasa: I was doing my masters degree in education at Teachers College at Columbia, and I felt confused and scared because I didn’t have the passion for teaching that my classmates and professors displayed. I remember crying in a seminar one day and admitting, “I just don’t know if I belong here.” It’s a wonderful community, but I knew I couldn’t live up to its legacy and to the aptitude of my peers. One of my peers happened to have just quit her job at Comedy Central, and she pulled me aside after class one day and suggested I try stand-up comedy. I guess she thought I had funny comments about No Child Left Behind and lesson plan design. Which I did, because both of those things are inherently HILARIOUS. So my first gig was opening for two professional comics at an event sponsored by the United Nations and the Rockefeller Foundation during International Women’s Week 2006. I got paid $40 and thought that meant you got paid for every set you did in stand-up. Oh, how wrong I was.
I did jokes about the differences between Hindi, Urdu and Farsi, and I killed with the Middle Eastern and subcontinental Asian grad students in the crowd. And when you’ve got that crowd on your side, you can take over the world.