Hi Geneva, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
I’m from the San Francisco Bay Area. I grew up in the East Bay in Oakland and I still live there.
Performance is clearly in your blood – when did you gain the first inkling of this?
I started doing theater classes and summer camps when I was 12-years-old. When I was 15 I joined the high school drama club and that became everything to me. I ended up moving to the UK to study contemporary Theatre at York St. John University and that’s when it became a lot more than just something I do for fun.
When did you decide to do stand-up?
I decided to do stand up in the summer of 2015. It was the summer before third-year of university when our course assigned an independent practice as research project in any field of performance. I decided to research the role of Jewish humour in stand-up comedy. I started reading about Jewish humourists and watching a lot of Joan Rivers and Sarah Silverman. After doing a lot of research to begin, in October 2015 I started going up on stage with my own stuff.
What is the comedy scene like in San Francisco?
It’s very vibrant. There are open mics every night of the week. We are spoiled for stage time. However, there are a lot of comics going after that stage time which means the nights can be very long and tedious waiting for your turn. San Francisco comics are generally talented and very hard-working. It’s inspiring to be around so many driven people and also a lot of diversity.
What does Geneva Rust Orta like to do when she’s not being funny?
I like to plan the next time I will be funny. I like the solitary and silent side of life. I’m exceptionally introverted so a few hours in a quiet room reading or drawing is my version of doing something fun. I also sometimes cry, (which can be funny at first) but isn’t that funny after a while.
What makes you laugh personally?
I think sex, death, and stupidity are all hilarious. Especially sex. It’s pretty easy to make me laugh. I like underdogs making fun of authority. I laugh the most at sarcastic women. Sarcastic women never cease to comfort me.
Upon which life-experiences do you draw your own comedy?
My moms. I have lesbian parents who divorced when I was young and married two new women, so I have four mothers to talk about. I also talk about my grandmother. The values and feelings I talk about are all things that I’ve learned from the women who raised me. I like to talk about the eccentric lessons they’ve taught me.
This is your second time at the Fringe. Can you explain in one sentence what it is like to perform at the mega-mash-up that is the Edinburgh Fringe?
It is humbling but also uplifting to be around so many intelligent people asking me about what I bring to the table.
Can you tell us about this year’s show?
This year’s show is further developed from last year’s show to be sure. I’ve tried to move on from dark bitter humour to dark playful humour. There are still holocaust references and a lot of sexual frustration in my material but I also think I’ve loosened up. My show is about feminism, sex, and Jews and how I have known them in my life.
What is it about performing live you love the most?
I like being around other people with good intentions. Comedy communities remind me of what religion felt like when I was younger. I’ve stopped attending religious services for the most part but I’m constantly hungry for the feeling of unity and humanity that I had growing up as a Jewish kid with a Temple to go to. Now I get that feeling almost exclusively from live comedy.
What does the rest of 2017 hold in store for Geneva Rust Orta ?
I’m in a bit of an in-between place. I hope to attend Central School of Speech and Drama in the Fall of 2018, but I need to save a million dollars to afford it. Hopefully I find a rich family who will pay me to watch their hilarious and well-behaved child for a couple hours per day. I’d also like to rally behind a social cause that really inspires me. I’ve been taking a teaching course geared towards equitable education for underrepresented student demographics. But to be honest I will probably just continue to waste money on beer and pizza and wonder why I’m single.
You can catch Geneva & her comedy at the Fringe