Veronica Porras's comedy career started in October 2006, a year after getting into recovery for being affected by the addictions and problem drinking of friends and family. She knew she had a problem because when other people drank and used, SHE was the one that got crazy, obsessive, controlling. At the same time, she expected these people in her life to take care of ALL her emotional, spiritual, needs.
The Relationship was the Higher Power and it lead her into some not so nice places. However, her continuous practice of going to meetings, sponsoring others, and 12 step service has helped to stay out of other people's drinking/using.
Veronica’s comedy is an exaggerated extension of her recovery persona. She has lead various workshops to help others in recovery on finding the funny through the inventory process. She hopes that her comedy can teach the non-drinker/user friends or family that there is comedy from being affected and though the disease of addiction and alcoholism is devastating, cunning, baffling and powerful, there is freedom and hope.
Recovery Comedy: What made you decide to become a stand-up comedian and how long have you been performing?
Veronica Porras: My early comedian heroes were Gallagher and my schizophrenic aunt. Though I didn't know that my aunt suffered mental illness I always knew her as someone who loved to sing and laugh. I just thought she was having a good time. The seeds of becoming a stand-up myself took place a couple of years after I graduated from college. I started going to a lot of open mics. MySpace was big back then and through the platform I started connecting with local comics and going to their shows. I began helping promote the Bay Area shows of one of the comedians I met on MySpace, Justin McClure. We meet up for lunch one day and I started to pick his brain on how he got started and he told me about San Francisco Comedy College run by Kurtis Mathews. So, I started taking classes and doing the open mics. I studied there for 3 years from 2006-2009. Honestly, if it weren't for the SF Comedy College, I wouldn't be doing stand-up.
Recovery Comedy: Were you performing stand-up comedy before you got into recovery?
Veronica Porras: No, The Stand-up came after I got into Recovery. I got into Recovery in 2005, started stand up in 2006. The recovery step work gave me the courage to take other steps to live my own life and do what I love to do.
Recovery Comedy: Where does your inspiration for material come from?
Veronica Porras: Recovery comedy is my passion, so it's based on my recovery experiences. There's a difference when I do impressions of personas vs. doing an impression of actual person from my recovery fellowship. I base jokes from my own personal experience. Other people are part of my experience, but I just do it as personas or characters. On the friends and family side of recovery in general, it's mostly "talk" about humor, but when it comes to the action of "humor" things can get dicey. The natural tendency to control, manage, fix, give unsolicited advice rears its ugly head. I have experienced unsolicited advice from my 12 step fellows on how I should do my comedy when they have never set foot on stage. To me, I think that's funny and I'll do a joke, bit, or impression based on that experience. I will never please everyone with my type of comedy, but my goal is to get the majority of the audience laughing.
Recovery Comedy: What is your joke writing process?
Veronica Porras: I write on stage. I'll jot down a couple of ideas and work them out on stage. I'll call up my best friend Dee and tell her a story of what happened to me. The funny also reveals itself in inventory and step work. I'll go over my old journals and set what's in there. One time I went over some inventory from like 5 years about finances and I wrote "I save money every week" and 5 years later I was going through a personal financial crisis and re-read that financial inventory from 5 years ago and I was like "Who wrote this!? I don't save at ALL!"
Recovery Comedy: Is your family supportive of your comedy career?
Veronica Porras: How funny. A part of my recovery is refraining from getting outside approval. LOL. They sometimes are and sometimes not. When I start pushing the envelope or cross the line my mom worries, but I don't know if that's a mom thing or if she's being co-dependent. That my comedy style is somewhat a reflection of how she raised me. In any case, being raised in alcoholic home groomed me to be a comedian. So, I'm OK if they support me and I'm OK if they don't. My dad sends me texts messages that I MUST get a stage name like Lady Gaga or something. That whole Adult Child of an Alcoholic is a gnarly beast when it comes to getting support from family or maybe I'm reading into this question too much?? #shrug.
Recovery Comedy: Is comedy part of your healing process?
Veronica Porras: Absolutely, I started my recovery comedy path by doing jokes about my recovery experience at 12 step events and conventions. I knew I was on the right path when the Area Delegate at the time called me to inform me that my jokes were pissing people off! A joke I told 4 years ago by the way. There were plenty of other fellows that were appreciative about my joke on how serious our friends and family take themselves and the notion that you can't make fun of the recovery program. Though, yes, I agree my 12-step program saved and continues to save my life, for me, poking fun at the ridiculousness of the disease and recovery helps keep Fundamentalism at bay. Recovery comedy from the perspective of being affected by addiction and alcoholism has given me insights on truths that most don't want to look at especially from the friends and family perspective. We’re the "good guys". We paid the bills. We took the kids to school. We did all the covering up and made all sorts of excuses for our alcoholic/addict loves ones. I didn't know that I too had a part in the family disease of addiction/alcoholism as well. Thought it was ALL my dad and mom's fault.
Recovery Comedy: What was your worst experience performing comedy?
Veronica Porras: I got removed as a youth mentor in my 12-step program for a joke I did on self-harm at a convention. My personal recovery was deeply affected in ways that I could not even imagine. Being removed was horrible enough, then my sponsor at the time, who was present at the show, discontinued being my sponsor and I had to get a new sponsor. About a month after being removed, another mentor called me up and just started screaming at me for doing such a joke. One recovery friend ended up betraying my trust when I confided to her about being removed and this person sent an email to our district, WSO, and my mother that I was banned from going to the 12-step meeting that this person started. To be friends one day and not friends because of my comedy was hard to accept. Throughout all this, it was an opportunity to practice my program of "principals over personalities". I say this as a fact that this did happen. To those who are reading this, understand that the disease of alcoholism doesn't stop just because it's in a recovery structure. We're all sick people getting better or at least trying. Everyone in recovery has their own path and context is everything in stand-up comedy. The audience and environment at that particular convention was not set up for my type of comedy. I was dealing with individuals who probably were not ready to laugh at such subject matter. Self-harm was too real to find the funny and I completely misread the audience.
Recovery Comedy: What was your best experience performing comedy?
Veronica Porras: I got removed as a youth mentor in my 12-step program for a joke I did on self-harm at a convention. It was the worst/best experience in my comedy/recovery path. I'm currently banned from performing at the Saturday Talent Show. (OK I just laughed out loud when I typed that sentence! LOL) At this same conference where I was banned, I was booked to do the 7am Sunday Morning Variety show. The booker liked my comedy and wanted me to do his show. It all worked out, I got to perform. My Higher Power was taking care of me throughout this whole experience. I was free to be me and did a similar set to the one that got me removed in the first place, except this time it came from my heart. The previous comedy set that got me removed came from a place of anger. The experience of being removed/reinstated gave me the courage to stand up for myself and my right to process my recovery in a way that works for me. My recovery approach may not be the "traditional" 12 step approach, but like many things in recovery, "You take what you like and leave the rest". Within the context of the steps, traditions, concepts, and warranties, MY disease needs a non-traditional approach. In the aftermath of this removal/reinstatement, the mentors and teens came around and reached out to me to lead a workshop on finding the funny by applying the inventory process. That workshop was a game changer in my personal recovery. I discovered that it's probably a good idea to do a workshop on finding the funny and afterward do a comedy show. It was the first time some of the teens in recovery did an inventory. Two new comer teens came to that event and they had such a good time they want to come back. I know in my heart that this approach works. This approach may not be for everyone, but for those who would like to try this approach of finding the funny in their inventory/pain I'm available.
Recovery Comedy: What is your comedy dream?
Veronica Porras: Connect and perform with other stand-up comics recovering from being affected from the family disease of addiction and alcoholism. I can't be the only one.
To find out more information about Veronica Porras or to book her for your next Recovery Event just click here!