Today we’d like to introduce you to Charlotte Wilson Langley.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I was born in England to a Jamaican mom and a British Dad. I’ve never really felt like I truly fit in anywhere until I started doing comedy.
I grew up wanting to be a writer/actor, but my parents were like, not today, Satan. They might have been immigrants who knew very little about America, but they knew plenty about Hollywood and didn’t want me anywhere near it. So I found a side route and I copied my fairy Godmother Oprah’s path. She went to school for broadcasting, so did I. She worked in radio, so did I. She worked in news, so did I. She was also an actor, so was I.
I started doing stand up with my Dad eight years ago. I come from a very funny family and I grew up watching Def Comedy Jam. During my days as a college intern for NBC in NYC, I dreamed about doing stand up constantly. I carried a pen and notepad and wrote everywhere I went, but I was too scared to actually get on stage and do it. One of my favorite memories was of sitting in the control room at studio 8H. The late and hilarious Greg Giraldo was about to go and perform on Last Call with Carson Daly. He was sitting next to me punching up a joke out loud. So I took a risk and threw him a joke that I thought was a pretty good punch up. He stopped what he was doing, looked at me and said, “That’s really funny.” I’ll never forget that and it’s probably what pushed me to go ahead and give comedy a shot. After several years of talking about stand up and performing at local gas pumps and bathroom mirrors, it was my Dad who eventually pushed me to take a class with him. Taking that class was one of the best decisions that I ever made and it helped to pull me out of a long depression.
Luckily, I started doing stand up comedy in Florida where there’s loads of material to pull from and not so many comedians. It was always easy to get on stage and work on my bits. There were no lotteries, random or fixed buckets, just show up and go up. Florida was a great place to learn stand up. There were loads of seasoned comedians who settled in Florida after years of working on the road. A couple of these road comics really took me under their wing and gave me feedback that not only helped my comedy but also motivated me to keep going.
Stand up has always been an adventure for me. The very first night that I performed in a show, I was at McCurdy’s Comedy Club and my sister’s water broke in the audience! We had to leave the show early because she went into labor and gave birth to my nephew, Tyler. The second time I did stand up, I performed at a nudist colony. Talk about low hanging fruit.
Before I knew it, I was doing guest sets all over, and after a year I had the pleasure of doing a guest set at McCurdy’s right before Gina Yashere headlined. She was and still is one of the funniest, most honest comedians that I’ve ever seen.
I continued to work on my comedy for three years before moving to Los Angeles, and I’m so glad that I did. I moved to LA five years ago with the dream of becoming a television writer, stand up comedian, actor and voice actor. Something like a Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler or Whitney Cummings.
Because stand up is so intense and vulnerable, I like to spread my love for comedy into a few other art forms, like screenwriting. Currently, I’m working on a pilot about my real life experience of growing up mixed/black in an all-white town. I moved from Miami, Fla to a tiny town in North Carolina when I was 11. North Carolina was beautiful but it was as if time stood still there, and that was something that my immigrant family and I weren’t ready for. I think living in North Carolina may actually be where I first started to hone my comedy chops.
Life was so stressful when I was in middle school, and as the only non-white person in the entire school, I stood out. It was unavoidable. After about a year I realized that I’d rather own being different than trying to blend in. Being called weird back then was just a Wednesday. I can vividly remember saying things to my peers that I thought were funny and just getting awkward stares that felt like forever. So I first experienced bombing in high school way before I had ever set foot on a stage.
It was an awkward and uncomfortable time and defintely my incubation period for developing an interest in comedy. Sure I had friends, but a lot of people were just ignorant. Girls would pull my hair and ask if it was real, people asked if my black British mother was an Aboriginee, we had our property set on fire, and people would drive past my family’s house and yell the N word.
But when I talk to old friends about what I was like back then, they all tell me that I was funny. Funny? How the hell could I have been funny in the midst of that? Now that I’m looking back, I now know that’s how I got through.
My experience of being a complete fish out of the water as a teen in North Carolina birthed a lot of my comedy. I love making up silly songs, and when I think back, I’d make up songs in high school that all my friends would memorize and they’d become kind of like anthems. Now I’m a voice-over artist working to break into the world of cartoons, and in North Carolina I would study people’s accents and then prank call my Mom and Dad. I used to fool my Dad into thinking that I was a farmer he knew called Tom and I used to trick my mom into thinking that a teller at the local bank had called her. I recently booked a VO job as the voice of the Louisiana lottery, and that’s defintely because my southern accent is straight from the source! Not bad for a British Jamaican girl, eh?
Now I’m in LA, and I run a monthly stand up show at the Blue Goose Lounge called the OMG show (previously called Double Dutch + Friends) where we feature insanely talented up and comers in the stand-up comedy scene. Last year I was in a film called ‘Hey Fibi’ where I played an evil smart device that was an official selection in the LA film shorts festival and this year I played a British scientist in the Film Get the Sun which won the Hollywood Comedy Shorts festival for Best Spoof. I’m really out here just trying to live my best life. I find that Los Angeles challenges me like nowhere else. Some days I love this city and its limitless potential and some days I want to kick it right in its smog sack. Trying to stay balanced through the ups and downs of a career in entertainment is really my goal now.
Of course, I came here with big dreams and high hopes, (and I still have those) but my goal now is to keep making art, making a living doing it and to live every day in the moment without choking people who honk their horns for more than 2 seconds. Thank you mediation and crystals.
Please tell us about your art.
I think that there are two mediums that can really move people. Music and comedy. Music can inspire a person to create and transport them to another time and place (past or present), but comedy can make a person truly enjoy this moment right NOW. Comedy is like meditation, except it’s fun. I’ve had bad days that have been completely transformed because of laughter, and that’s what inspires me to keep going.
I went to a movie recently, and a lady next to me was in a wheelchair with very limited mobility, but the thing I noticed most was how hard she laughed, and during that hour and a half, she seemed to be having the time of her life. That’s what I want to do for people.
With comedy, you can have an eviction notice at home, a foot condition and a mountain of problems dragging you down, but when you’re laughing, you’re not thinking about any of those things. You’re just enjoying life right now in the most natural way. Laughter is magic. It’s the best drug my opinion (and no I’m not drug addict mom.)
My comedy takes a few different forms. Stand up, screenwriting, acting, and music.
For comedians, stand up is like constant therapy. Some days you walk out feeling on top of the world, and you see that the work you’ve put in is paying off, and other days you walk out hoping that you can make it to the car without having a meltdown because you’ve got so much more work to do.
I think that with my comedy, I want the takeaway to be that’s it’s ok to be awkward. It’s ok to have an opinion, and it’s ok to be different. And as a woman, we don’t have to be perfect, so let’s talk about it. One of the best compliments that I ever got after performing in a sketch show was “I love how you’re not afraid to make yourself unattractive when you’re on stage, and you’re just concerned with being funny.”
I think we’re in a time where everyone feels like they have to fit in and get “likes.” Everyone is doing the same dances, the same Instagram challenges, the same eyebrows, the same asses. It’s boring. I want people to remember that it’s ok to be weird, different, unique, and authentically be your damn self.
Given everything that is going on in the world today, do you think the role of artists has changed? How do local, national, or international events and issues affect your art?
I think the role of the artist has always been the same at its core throughout the times. For example, when the White House turned into a shitty reality show, great comedians like Michelle Wolf stepped up to the plate and said what so many of us were thinking. She was our voice, and it was awesome!
I’ve always felt like comedians are the truth tellers for every generation, and I still think that rings true. Comedians are the big balled funny philosophers that we so desperately need in this politically correct time where people can’t make mistakes or go against the status quo because they’ll be “cancelled.” It sounds crazy to say that comedians are the voice of reason, but they kind of are.
How do local, national, or international events affect your art?
I like to comment on cultural shifts in my comedy. Comedians are often pulled back a bit from society because we can be loners, over-thinkers and sometimes skeptics. Because I’m often removed a bit from what all the cool kids are doing, I often find cultural trends and shifts, making their way into my comedy. When I first started doing comedy eight years ago, a lot of my material was news based because of my background in journalism. At that time, I got a feedback from more seasoned comedians that I should make my comedy more personal. Since then, I’ve been talking about ridiculous things that I notice and things that piss me off, like mumble rap and everyone having the same fucking eyebrows.
Comedy is an extremely vulnerable art form, and many comedians are already sensitive people. For me, I sometimes find myself pulling away from the news so that I don’t suffer – but in doing that, my comedy suffers. As a comedian, you’re always kind of choosing your suffering. Will it be me or my comedy? And sometimes it’s both. I probably shouldn’t be doing an interview with this many Midol floating around in my bloodstream. I know that a lot of my comedy comes from what’s currently pissing me off. I’ll walk around my apartment ranting like a female Lewis Black, and my fiance will say, “that’s a joke,” and I’m like, oh yeah… it is. I don’t talk about Trump in my comedy because I don’t think anyone needs to hear about him any more than we already do and I think Bill Maher, Trevor Noah, and Samantha Bee are doing a stellar job taking care of that for us. My goal is to make people laugh and talk about the stuff that they might normally say is taboo.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I perform all over Los Angeles doing stand up comedy.
I’m currently developing a podcast called Tales from the Shift with WhoHaHa. Tales from the Shift talks to artists who have “made it” about their journey and shitty jobs along the way. It’s like the E True Hollywood story, except it’s real. I just recorded my first episode, and it will be released everywhere that you can find podcasts soon! And if you really want to see more of my work, you can hire me to be in your writer’s room. Oh hello, showrunner.
- Address: Los Angeles, CA
- Website: www.charlottelangley.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://instagram.com/charlaughs/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/charlaughs
Headshot taken by: Actors Essentials
On stage photo at the Comedy Store La Jolla: Mike Falzone