For most people, the mere notion of joblessness is an anxiety ridden nightmare. For comedian Claudia Oshry, it was an opportunity that evolved into a very lucrative business.
“I went to college in NYU,” begins the 24-year-old native New Yorker, who will be headlining three shows at Houston Improv on March 10and 11. “I grew up in the city and went to a really rigorous high school, and I was in school ALL THE TIME. By the time I got to NYU, I had so much free time. I only had class a few times a week - it was just weird. For the first couple months, I loved it. Then after a while it got kind of boring doing nothing. Everyone at NYU is very career oriented, they have their jobs lined up the second they get there and it was kind of intimidating.”
“So I applied to a bunch of internships, and got one in fashion, which is just not fun, you know? It was unpaid, obviously, but it was just mean girls and no air-conditioning, menial stupid tasks. So I started this blog – it was called Girl With A Job. It was on Tumblr and it was really just like a diary for me, a form of self expression to talk shit about everyone at work. No one read it, it was really unpopular and it was really just for me. But [then] I got fired from the internship not long after starting. So I changed the name of blog to Girl With No Job, just because I didn’t have a job and I thought it would be more accurate. I made Instagram pages, and Facebook pages and Twitter pages, just for the blog to drive traffic to my website.”
Little did Oshry know at the time that Instagram would be the platform to catapult her to near the top of her genre, as a 'creator' of original humorous content and as a ‘curator’ of selected images and captions from other separate accounts. “Instagram was a really poppin’ off,” Oshry quips. “I got on there early and really just started playing around. Weirdly enough, I kind of moved my whole brand over to Instagram, but not knowing at the time. I grew @GirlWithNoJob all throughout college [and] by the time I graduated I had a little over a million followers. It was like a full time job, but nobody could wrap their heads around the fact that I was not going to get a job after graduation, even thought I had worked all throughout college. I was making money! It was a lot of work, and doing it as a full time job seemed natural to me.”
Now with over 3 MILLION followers on the handle, Oshry is expanding her empire. “I did everything with Girl with No Job, we did podcasts and live events and brand partnerships and about a year ago: we started a daily morning show (that’s also a podcast) called The Morning Toast. My sister Jackie and I host, and its so great to be working with family. I find corporate relationships and that office jargon to be so uncomfortable, and with my sister – its so much easier to communicate with someone you’re comfortable with. [My sister] started a popular Twitter account when she was in college called @JackieOProblems, which was just collegiate funny feminine humor. She’s hysterical too, and she’s been online for just as long as I have so it seemed like a really natural fit for us to do it together.”
Oshry credits the success of The Morning Toast to her decision to pursue her next challenge, the Dirty Jeans comedy tour that brings her to Houston. “That really took everything to the next level,” she reflects. “It’s really fun, it is self-deprecating humor and a lot of pop culture references, so if you’re a Housewives fan, a Bravo fan, a Bachelor fan, you’ll get a lot what’s going on, you know?”
While most performers cut their teeth in nightclubs, Oshry admits that she found a different path to the same bright lights. “I love the way I got to this place. For a long time, everyone was telling me I was so funny and that I should do stand-up, but the idea of doing stand-up is horrifying, and just the thought of me saying something and nobody laughing makes me want to die! So I pushed it off for so long. I had always been, you know – class clown funny, conversationally funny. I’m a great dinner part guest! But comics write jokes and it's almost more scripted, and you work on the same material for so long. That felt so unnatural to me, so when I decided to do the show, that’s what I struggled with the most - not just winging it.”
In the end, Oshry seems to be breaking ground for what a traditional night at the Improv even looks like. “I do a morning show five days a week where I just sit down and talk, that’s really my style of comedy – very improv. So to commit to a 90-minute show with material I had to write was the biggest challenge for me. And I still struggle with it, but I’m definitely getting better.
Performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m on Sunday, March 10, and 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Monday, March at Houston Improv on 7620 Katy Freeway. For information, call 713-333-8800 or visit improvhouston.com. $35-85.
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