Jennie McNulty got into comedy to ward off a future midlife crisis.
"I was working in a research lab, and I really liked my job, and I liked everybody there," McNulty said. However, a co-worker at the lab who was a few years older was going through a minor midlife crisis.
"I thought, 'Oh god, that's me in 20 years,'" McNulty said.
She decided working in a research lab wasn't her calling, so McNulty thought about getting into the entertainment business, something she had dreamed of but had not pursued.
"I watched a few open-mic nights, and there were some people there who really bombed, and I thought, 'Well I can at least do that well,'" McNulty said.
McNulty has been working as an actress and comedian ever since. One of her more recent endeavors--the stand-up comedy and improv group Queer on Their Feet--will be in Tucson for a show this Friday.
Queer on Their Feet is a three-person LGBT comedy group composed of McNulty and fellow comedians Diana Yanez and Jason Dudey.
The group was formed a few years ago, after McNulty and Dudey saw each other perform at Outlaugh, an annual gay and lesbian comedy festival. McNulty, Dudey and another comedian started performing as Queer on Their Feet. About six months ago, Yanez took the third position in the group.
The group's shows begin with each member doing a 15-minute set of stand-up. The three then play improvisation games with interaction from the audience; think Whose Line Is It Anyway?
While some of the comedy focuses on LGBT issues, a lot of it is centered on current events and family, said Dudey, who describes himself as "The Gay Next Door."
"There are certainly gay issues. I talk about gay relationships and gay issues, but it's not like you even need to be gay to get the jokes or anything," McNulty said. "Our stuff goes over just as well for straight audiences as it does for gay ones."
Much of Yanez's comedy is about her experiences growing up as the daughter of quirky Cuban parents in Miami.
"I think they watched one of my videos on YouTube, and instead of going, 'That's really funny,' the first thing they thought of is, 'You're making yourself a target, and you might get a stalker,'" Yanez laughed. "I was like, 'Gee, thanks, Mom and Dad.'"
Anyone who is Latino or the child of immigrants will be able to relate to her, she said. Yanez has opened for comedian Margaret Cho in the past; Cho talks about similar experiences.
"She was a child of Korean immigrants; they went through the same experience," Yanez said. "When you're the first American in the family, there's that clash of the culture of your parents versus the culture of growing up watching Star Trek and The Brady Bunch."
Dudey's comedy also focuses a lot on his family, he said--though his mother, unlike Yanez's, found his jokes about her funny. McNulty's comedy is inspired by what's going on in the world and in her life.
"Of course, with the elections and everything, I'll talk about what's going on with that. I play on a women's football team, so ... I'll talk about sports," McNulty said. "I like to play with the crowd ... so sometimes, we'll go off on a tangent for little bit based on something someone in the audience said."
The improv portion of the show is fun, Dudey said, because nobody has any idea what's going to happen. McNulty and Yanez also have a knack for giving Dudey a girls' name in those skits, Dudey laughed.
The timing of the show's arrival in Tucson is intriguing, considering the passage of Proposition 102 in Arizona and Proposition 8 in California, both of which banned gay marriage.
"I think a lot of times, people think that they really don't know gay people, and I think each one of us is kind of a boy-next-door, girl-next-door sort of person," McNulty said. "We have a voice; we have a chance to really say things that matter, to try to change people's minds, especially about gay issues."
Queer on Their Feet will be performing at 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 14, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson, 4831 E. 22nd St. Though the show is performed in a church, this is not a religious show. Tickets are $15 and are available at the church, online at brownpapertickets.com, or by calling (877) 278-4842. For more information, visit their MySpace page.