San Jose Mercury News Article

R-rated Humorist Enhances Standing of Female Stand-ups

By Nora Villagrán
Mercury News

As a toddler, Jeremy Beth Michaels mooned her neighbors and giggled as cars sped by.

Later, she kept her parents in stitches with her antics. So,what else could she grow up to be but a stand-up comic?

At 4 feet 11, San Francisco comic Jeremy Beth Michaels is still a little devil with a potty mouth and the face of a rakish angel.

That is, 4 feet, 11 inches and three-quarters. She insists on the three-quarters, asking, “Wouldn’t you?” Only now, the former San Jose resident is making audiences laugh with her R-rated humor.

“I love it, but there are a lot of bad gigs,” says Michaels, 30. “I had a gig in Oregon this past weekend. The hotel room was so bad, I wouldn’t put someone I hated there. I think the last guest smoked 500 cartons of cigarettes. And I did comedy at places like Marie Callender’s.”

She has another complaint: “You have to go pee constantly.” Between the hecklers and the nervousness, you end up with the bladder control of a high-strung Chihuahua.

Despite the challenges, Michaels is not only making her own breaks onstage in Bay Area clubs, but also she’s producing comedy shows.

On Tuesday night, Audible Candy presents “Good and Plenty: Ladies Night,” a showcase of comedy and music. Presented by Michaels’ ABottomLessCup Productions, the lineup features headliner Carla Clayy, Lesli Chollarr, Yayne Abeba, Gretchen Rootes, Bridget Schwartz, Becki Pedigo and Michaels. The host is Gary Cannon.

Women with funny bones have it tougher than male comics, says Clayy, 35. “Men tend to get more stage time than women. And a lot people don’t think females are funny. But women are funny.”

Michaels writes in an essay about her comedy: Women will “get introduced as ‘goodlooking,’ as if that has some clout on being able to tell a joke. You never hear women introducing men by saying, ‘Hey, did you see how handsome that last guy was? Well, this next guy .. .’ “

There’s also an assumption, says Michaels, “that female comics are men-haters. I don’t hate men.” Even though, she adds, “right now, comedy is my boyfriend – not too great in the sack, but otherwise it’s perfect. I’ve had bad dating luck. I attract guys that look like Meat Loaf.”

Fellow comic Jeff Kreisler concedes, “When a person first walks onstage, people do make an instant judgment. But they get over their judgments if you’re funny.”

Michaels has always been funny, while brother Joshua – a San Francisco deejay – was the good one, says Mom Jane Michaels, a real estate agent.

Even during her early childhood deafness caused by a milk allergy that cleared up, “Jeremy was always naughty and funny. She was no bigger than a minute, with a mouth the size of Texas. She didn’t care if she wet her pants; she was too busy having fun. When she’d have an accident, she’d say the witch did it.”

Dad Howard Michaels, an emergency room doctor, worked his way through medical school as a comic. “My wife says it’s all my fault, because Jeremy would do things, and rather than discipline her, I’d just crack up.”

They’ve learned to take Michaels’ gritty, raunchy humor in stride. “She sees things in a quirky way,” her mom says. “Her jokes range from extraordinarily clever to sixthgrade bathroom humor.”

Michaels says, “My brother calls me a cross between Bart Simpson and Bette Midler.” Her goal is to join the cast of “Saturday Night Live.” Meanwhile, she’s keeping her administrative day job.

“Comics are living prophets,” she says. “We say the things people are too afraid to say or don’t know how to say. That’s why you laugh at our jokes, because you can relate to it.”

She writes: “My dad taught me that humor is a tool, a medicine, a broken-heart mender. .. . When you laugh yourself on stage, it represents a truth and a freedom that is unexplainable.”

Contact Nora Villagran at or
(408) 920-5909. Fax (408) 271-3786.

Be Sociable, Share!