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The Recovery Stand-up Comedy of Kara Buller
Recovery Comedians, Comics Anonymous, Recovery Comedy, Recovery Comic, Clean and Sober Comedy
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Kara Buller's biting comedy has snatched up prizes from Chicago to New York and been seen as far west as Maui and as far sad as a Midwestern memorial service. She has been deemed "very smart, very funny" by David Letterman's chief talent booker, as well as "very funny" by the Chicago Reader. Kara is a graduate of Chicago's legendary Second City. There Kara performed her one-woman show "Cowboy Crushes, Prank Calls and the Biblette," which, according to the Chicago Reader, was "full of hilarious insights." Kara is equipped with an attitude of gratitude and is raring to go.

Recovery Comedy: What were you like as a kid?

Kara Buller: Slutty? Can a kid be slutty? I think so. I was provocative at a young age. Como se dice "trying to get attention"? At the age of four, I would take my shirt off whenever I saw a water tower, I got so excited. That was my "thing." (I recognized pretty young that you had to have a thing.) In high school I was insecure, status and accomplishment-obsessed. I was like the 1990s lady Bill Wilson for my high school--and for my junior college.

Recovery Comedy: What made you decide to become a stand-up comedian and how long have you been performing?

Kara Buller: I went into stand-up in Spring 2003. My comedy career is as old as the Iraq war--and they've been about equally effective. I kid. I got into stand-up because I was having a heckuva time trying to control my sketch comedy troupe. I'm also really tom-boyish, and I like battle metaphors. Stand-up provides that--in legions.

Recovery Comedy: Were you performing stand-up comedy before you got into recovery?

Kara Buller: Yes. I got into recovery (I like this phrase "got into recovery"--like one "got into comic books"--like it's a hobby I dabble in. ha. More like a water I need to drink to live.), but I got into recovery in 2006 so I had three years acting out in the comedy scene - I mean three years in the comedy scene before entering recovery.

Recovery Comedy: How has your comedy changed since you got into recovery?

Kara Buller: I'm way more reality-based and self-care-oriented with my work habits. I had really bad habits before. Never recording myself. Each night trying new stuff because I was afraid the guys at the back of the room would be like "she tried that lame joke last night." Turns out: a) the jokes weren't lame b) fellow comedians expect us to be playing around with the same bits and C) who cares what they think. I am also more customer-service oriented now. The emphasis is more on "What makes the audience laugh," not "what do I need to talk to a therapist about, if I had one"?

Recovery Comedy: Does your comedy have a message and if so what is it?

Kara Buller: "The world is slightly messed up and let's have fun with that." I have a character I do, JT Munson and the message there is "there's a super-charming mullet-wearing Oklahoma lesbian inside of me." Seriously, her message is that love and a God of our understanding can make miracles happen. JT kinda chokes me up sometimes. She's a very powerful lady.

Recovery Comedy: Who are your comedy idols?

Kara Buller:  Maria Bamford - so playful. Joan Rivers - such stamina. Pete Holmes - so smiley. John Mulaney - so polished. Chris Rock - so alive. Louis CK - so brave.

Recovery Comedy: What is the difference between a recovery show and a normie show?

Kara Buller: I received a standing ovation at a recovery show. That has not happened at a normie show--not saying it couldn't it just hasn't happened yet. There's something getting transacted at a recovery show that's not getting transacted at a normie show. Maybe my goal is to get that special bond cooking even at the normie shows - to the point where they feel they have to get on their feet (not in a Gloria Estefan way). We are all humans, with struggles, losses and feelings. But for now: special bond at recovery shows. Common problem and common solution.

Recovery Comedy: Where does your inspiration for material come from?

Kara Buller: Things that scare me and things that anger me. I think Judy Carter has that in her great book The Comedy Bible. I learned that in 2003 I think and it's rarely let me down. Also: Skymall.

Recovery Comedy: What was your worst experience in stand-up?

Kara Buller: I was hosting at Zanies in Chicago for a weekend. It's a long, skinny room. So as the host, to get ready to take the stage between comics, you have to either hide behind a curtain, run like a sprinter from the back of the room OR do what I did which was sit in empty chairs nearer the stage as the guy gets ready to dismount. Well. Weird idea and bad idea. I sat in the empty seat of a woman who had run to the bathroom. Her husband was next to me when her cellphone goes off and he yells GODDAMNIT YOU ALWAYS MESS EVERYTHING UP!! which was confusing because that's how the voice in my head sounds. He goes on: I TOLD YOU TO TURN THAT DAMN THING OFF!! ARGH ARGH RAGE RAGE RAGE. So now I'm getting pulled into some domestic abuse situation that's not even mine. So I'm now terrified, confused, worried about the real woman and needing to get on stage in two seconds. I'm pretty sure I made a comment onstage about men and anger and then wanted to run out the front door.

Recovery Comedy: What was your best experience performing stand-up?

Kara Buller: I love performing for fellow recovering people. Great audiences. I'm always like "are they all just people-pleasing or what?" but they laugh. I did stand-up at a recovery retreat in Stockholm once. My mom was with me and I invited her and she was like "you guys do your thing, I won't intrude; I'm going to nap." That's right! She used a semi-colon! Anyway, I was a little hurt she wasn't going to watch me. But I'm a soldier and I do my thing. I was up onstage, pretty steadily killing it, and at one point I looked up and there was my mom, standing in the doorway, smiling at me. I don't think she got a single one of my jokes but that's okay. This story chokes me up every time. You gotta show up for the people in your life, even if you don't understand what the heck is going on.

Recovery Comedy: What is your joke writing process?

Kara Buller: I take a subject and ask "What is true? What is true? What is true?" then I go "What would be ridiculous? What would be ridiculous? What would be ridiculous?" Yes, I use the rule of threes even in my process!

Recovery Comedy: What is your kryptonite?

Kara Buller: I think I have to say...Superman references.

Recovery Comedy: Is comedy part of your healing process?

Kara Buller: It may be. It can be part of my "defend and attack" process, aka my "opposite of healing" process. But now I can see that when we are laughing at ourselves and our outrageous behavior and assumptions--that is togetherness and that feels good. So yeah! Part of the healing process.

Recovery Comedy: What is your comedy dream?

Kara Buller: I'm at a show, onstage, but my mouth won't move. Everyone from my high school track team is there but they are also the same people I worked with at a law firm. Oh, you mean my comedy dream dream? To make people cry and laugh. To laugh and cry. To cry a little and then go back to laughing, then later cry a little more. Seriously, to just keep giving people a good time.

Recovery Comedy: Thanks so much for talking to us Kara.  You did a great job at the last show and I know we’ll be seeing much more of you in the future.

To find out more information about Kara Buller or to book her for your next Recovery Show, just click here!

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