Jenn Snyder is nothing if not honest. The Columbia comedian says she started doing stand-up in middle school for a talent show and enjoyed it immensely because it got her out of class.
“I wound up winning the talent show, and so that meant that the next day, I didn't have to go to class because I got to perform for the three assemblies,” she recalls. “And that was pretty much what made me decide I wanted to be a comedian.”
She’s also upfront about how badly she sucks at being anything but a comedian.
“I worked at a place called Big Red Box in Columbia,” she says, “and I was terrible at it because I didn't want to do anything but be funny. My boss graciously laid me off so that I could have unemployment, and that was the year I started doing comedy full-time. I've been doing it full-time for the last three years.”
And she’s certainly honest about what she talks about on stage.
“I try to find the commonality in things, even though I talk about my life,” she offers. “Like, clearly, I’m a big butch lesbian, and that doesn't resonate with a lot of people, but I find other ways to do that. And I’ve had straight white Trump supporters who own gun shops give me $20 and say, ‘Keep doing what you're doing, because it matters.’”
So it’s probably best to believe Snyder when she says that not only is comedy her life’s mission, but that Columbia is, perhaps unexpectedly, the perfect place for her to do it.
“It’s the absolute joy of my life,” she says. “That’s what I was put on Earth to do, is make people laugh. I won't be good at anything else, and even if I am good at it. It won't satisfy me the way this does. That's what God wants me to do. And so that's what I'm out here doing.”
Snyder tried a few years back to take that mission to the Big Apple, spending a few months hitting the comedy circuit in New York City. She found a vibrant scene, but also lot of loneliness, and eventually she had to come back home.
“Actually, I wound up running out of money,” she laughs, “That’s why I had to come home. But it was a lonely place. It’s great for comedy, but it was just the hardest time of my life. I didn’t make a single friend while I was there. I went two weeks without a hug, and I didn't realize that was a big deal until I saw a girl I knew from high school on the subway and she gave me a hug and I burst into tears.”
Snyder doesn’t regret the experience, though. As any comedian worth their salt will tell you, you’ve got to bomb to get better.
“Honestly, going to New York and coming back really lit a fire under my ass,” she says. “I've worked so much harder since then, and I’ve headlined festivals all over the country. ... I’ve traveled coast to coast. And I’ve really made some strides. I'm not famous, nowhere close, but I'm working hard to get where I want to be.”
Indeed, Snyder is dong well, appearing prominently at such comed events as the Midwest Queer Comedy Festival in Ohio and the Lookout Comedy Festival in Tennessee. But where she wants to be right now is Columbia. She says the comedy scene here in town has a familial, encouraging vibe that she hasn’t seen elsewhere.
“We’re blessed with the best comedy family out there,” she proclaims. “Even other scenes will tell you that ours is a family. We’re tight-knit and we look out for each other, but the thing I’m most proud of about Columbia’s comedy is that we don’t have sexual predators. We don’t have dudes that are punching down all the time on women and minorities and LGBTQ people. We have a very progressive scene in Columbia, and I’m proud of that.”
Snyder has a show in West Columbia on Dec. 13, and she says she looks forward to giving back to the people who have supported her.
“I’ve been working on a new 45 minutes,” she says. “Some of it might be a little rough, but I really want to bring new material to the people who are coming to see me. I'm really blessed and lucky that there are people that support me, and in my heart, I hate giving them the same thing over and over again. So I've been working on a whole new set, and I'm going to talk about a little bit of everything."
What: Jenn Snyder
Where: The Comedy Closet, 735 Meeting St.
When: Friday, Dec. 13, 6 and 8 p.m.
Price: $10 (late show sold out)
More: 803-834-4598, thecomedycloset.com