Comedy writer highlight: Carmiya Weinraub
Updated: Jan 17
Carmiya Weinraub (Facebook page here) is a Maryland-based comic, singer/songwriter, and homeschooling mom. Below, we made her answer five short questions.
What is the first thing people notice about you in real life? On the stage?
I wear a scarf to cover my hair for religious reasons. I’m not sure people would notice that the first time - it just looks like a fashion choice - but since I wear one all the time, it becomes something people are aware of. When I walk on stage, I usually have some props with me for my act, so that’s noticeable too.
What is your favorite topic(s) for jokes?
My children. As a stay-at-home, and homeschooling, mom, we spend most of our time together. So they are invariably the premise of most of my jokes. I have a couple of children with chronic illnesses too, and I use that in my material too. Crafting jokes about it (even if I never even use them on stage) is a way of lightening my load. Sharing them with an audience helps me connect about painful things, and especially if someone in the audience is going through this, I might lighten their load too - or offend them. I guess you never know!
How did your education prepare you for your life as a comedian?
I took a number of creative writing courses in high school and college, acting classes in college, and was in choirs from elementary school through high school. None of these were things I specialized in professionally, but the focus on writing/editing and performance have carried through to comedy.
How did you come up with your best joke?
My best joke is about my midwife suggesting I eat my placenta to prevent another bout of post-partum depression. I don’t want to give away the story line on that joke, but I cover recipes, placenta storage, and my children’s reactions. A comedian I love, Carmen Lynch, does a joke about placenta eating, and when I heard it, I realized I also have plenty to say on this topic.
As a comedian, I’ve learned that premises, e.g. placenta-eating, are open to everyone, but how you craft the joke and where you go with it are comedian-specific, and you can’t steal that stuff.
Describe your comedy writing process.
An idea comes to me and I jot it down in messy handwriting or on my phone. Then I try it out on one close friend, and if she says, “Yes, there’s something there,” I start writing more. If I’m stuck, I take it to my beloved weekly writer’s group and hear their comments. Then I add and subtract more. Then, I take it to a feedback group where comedians perform mostly-crafted jokes and receive feedback. Then I add and subtract more. Next, I try it at an open mic. If it gets laughs, I might leave it alone and try it next at a show, but if it doesn’t, I’ll add/subtract, and try again at an open mic. I am constantly tweaking.
Photography: Michael Weinraub