Maggie Faris Is “Tougher Than a Honeybee”

Photos by St Paul Photo Co
Photos by St Paul Photo Co

“To me being gay is a lot like being left-handed…It’s similar in the fact that there’s not as many of us, we’re just like everyone else, we just scissors different.” Laughter rings out in the background as local comedian Maggie Faris delivers a line from her latest comedy album “Tougher Than a Honeybee”.

Born and raised in the Twin Cities, Maggie has been doing stand-up comedy for more than 20 years. Named “one of the funniest lesbians in America” by Curve Magazine and winner of The Advocate’s national search for the “next funniest queer comedian,” Maggie’s star has been on the rise.

She attributes her start to her “quick-witted family” and considered herself funny long before she ever got up on stage.

“My family really brought that out; I grew up with very boisterous and loud [family] and you had to be loud and obnoxious and witty to be heard,” she said. “And at school, too, it was a lot easier to make friends if you’re jokey and have fun.”

The first standup act she ever performed was at a comedy club her sister worked at.

“I did the open mic there and I died a horrible death, I was awful, terrible,” Maggie said. “Like not only did I not get any laughs, I got groans, it was ugly.”

Determined not to let a rough start keep her from the stage, she spent six months writing and rewriting her bit.  She tried again at a different venue and this time drummed up a couple of laughs.

Fast forward to her third and newest album, which was recorded in front of a sold-out crowd at Sisyphus Brewing, and you’ll find Maggie comfortable and at ease during her act.

An out lesbian, much of her current set intersects with her sexual orientation. At that very first open mic, however, she pitched gay jokes that she said had such a “horrible response” that she put that material back in the closet (pun intended) for nearly a decade. More than 20 years later she feels comfortable joking about her life, her sexuality and all the fair-use fodder that can be gleaned from the land of lesbians.

“I would say I’m a comic before I’m a gay comic,” she says. “I could still do this if I wasn’t able to talk about gay stuff, but I like talking about gay stuff and I’m glad that we all can talk about it.”

Speaking of “gay stuff,” Maggie touts what she calls a stereotypical coming out story. She went to St. Kate’s women’s college and when she met “lots of dykes there” she immediately wanted to hang out with them, and the rest is history.

Things would’ve been different, she thinks, if she were coming out in 2023. “I think I would’ve come out earlier because there is so much representation. There was none when I was coming out.”

Quintessential lesbian media (within the last 20 years) such as “The L Word” has undoubtedly helped many a questioning queer view relate to something on screen that makes them feel seen. Which begged the question for Maggie ‘who did you love (from the show) and who do you hate?’

“I liked Bette and Tina, who didn’t I like… Everybody had such a big crush on Shane, but I thought she was such a dick. Oh and that crazy one I can’t remember her name,” Maggie said referencing the ultimately doomed and outspoken Jenny Schecter. “I feel like it’s just so much more mainstream now you get gay characters everywhere, which is nice.”

Digging into a little content from “Tougher Than a Honeybee” illuminates more than a few classic LGBTQ stereotypes, but Maggie adds a couple more of her favorites.

“All lesbians love softball; lots of dykes play softball, or WNBA,” Maggie says. “We used to go to WNBA games and we called it ‘lesbian town hall,’ because you would just see everyone you knew.”

She draws from all kinds of life experiences to create her act. That said, many artists prefer either one or the other when it comes to creating versus performing. Maggie enjoys it all and if 20-plus years of performing means anything then she’s certainly meant to be on stage.

“I love it and if I didn’t love it, I would quit, because the business is ugly you know and it’s hard and it doesn’t pay enough” she says. “I think what’s shocking to me is that I like it year after year and it’s been this long.”

Maggie recounts some of the ways she’s grown as a comedian since she first started in 1999.

“I really feel more comfortable talking about myself, my relationships and letting people in more. They say in comedy you have to be a character and be different than everyone else. A lot of times people will write the same jokes and people will steal jokes and things like that and when it’s your personal story there’s no worry about someone lifting it. I’ve grown as a comic doing that and I enjoy it because people get to know you better.”

Her success has not come without challenges and she’s constantly working toward cultivating a larger fan base, selling more tickets and ultimately making more money.

“I’ve always wanted to be creative as a career; to make enough money to sustain myself and not live in poverty, but I mean I still have to have a day job for the benefits and stuff like that,” she adds.

As for what’s next, she’s already working on fresh material with her fans on standby. In the meantime, you can come to a live act, purchase “Tougher Than a Honeybee” and follow her @extrememaggie on social media.

“I love having queer people come out to shows and challenging me on things,” Maggie adds. “Sometimes I cross the line and say things I shouldn’t say and I love that and I love discussing it and I love being part of the community. So, I think that there’s a ton of people out there that enjoy comedy but don’t necessarily come out so I would love for those people to come out and watch a show.”

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