Today we’d like to introduce you to Liz Galvao.
Liz, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I grew up in New Jersey, in a tiny, rural town called Long Valley. It’s so small, it doesn’t even have a movie theater. I remember giving a “current events” report in elementary school when the town got its first stoplight—a BIG deal.
Ever since I could hold a pen, I’ve wanted to be a writer. My town didn’t have a lot to offer in the way of entertainment, so I spent a lot of my childhood making up stories and either writing them down or acting them out in the woods with the other neighborhood kids. My family was a big movies family—my brother worked at a movie theater and obsessively watched every Oscar nominee, and my dad made us watch Hollywood classics with him, from 12 Angry Men to Gone With the Wind to JAWS.
When I was 17, I got a job at Blockbuster Video. That was the first time I start developing my own taste in film and became obsessed with Michel Gondry and Spike Jonze and Sofia Coppola. When I went off to study at Vassar College, I was quickly drawn to the film department, and after directing a three-hour-long dramatic play, decided I definitely wanted to focus on comedy. I always felt like an odd duck in my department because of that. It seemed like everyone else wanted to be the next Paul Thomas Anderson while I was more inspired by Judd Apatow.
I made a bunch of quirky short comedic films, including several over a semester abroad at Prague Film School. One of them was called “The Seventh Sleepover,” and it was a parody of Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, where a teen girl played the truth-or-dare game Girl Talk with Death at a slumber party. That was the kind of stuff I made.
After graduating college, I moved to Brooklyn and started taking sketch and improv classes at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, and began performing around the city. I also started writing satire and humor pieces, contributing to Reductress and The Hairpin, mostly. While I was in New York, I also made a short film with a bunch of film friends from Vassar called No Bones About It, a semi-scripted, semi-improvised tale of two friends marathoning the entire first season of Bones over 24 hours. I wrote the script for the scripted parts and played an overbearing reality TV producer.
After five years in New York, I decided it was time for a change, so my then-boyfriend, now-husband and I moved across the country to Los Angeles. We’d fallen in love with California on a trip to San Francisco a few years earlier, but we’d only spent five days in L.A. before making the move. It was a big leap of faith like I’m sure it is for everyone who comes here. But there’s something powerful about being so physically close to the majority of the industry—I nearly screamed the first time I saw the Warner Brothers lot in Burbank, looking exactly like it did in Animaniacs. A few years later, I got invited onto that lot for a job interview, and actually cried in the parking garage (don’t tell anyone).
I joined the sketch group June’s Cleaver at the iO West comedy theater and took some improv classes there as well. That’s where I met the majority of my friends in L.A. My husband and I started a comedic Bachelor recap podcast called My Wife Is In This Room that we did for three years. I eventually landed a job in the programming department of CollegeHumor and getting to live and breathe comedy all day was a dream come true. I continued to write and publish humor pieces and started a comedic readings show at The Ruby last year called Funny on Paper. About a year ago, I started my site Funny-ish.com as an extension of the show, where anyone can submit humor or satirical writing. Around the same time, a college friend of mine asked me to direct a web series he’d written, and the result, Soft Boiled, is now in the final stages of post-production.
Since both iO West and CollegeHumor sadly went under, I now spend the majority of my time editing Funny-ish, writing scripts, and working on a YA book I finished writing earlier this year. Quarantine has been a challenging time, but it’s also been pretty creatively productive for me. So, that’s where I am today: making up stories and writing them down, just like I did when I was little, only I’m in a much sunnier place now.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I have to laugh when I think back on how I thought my career was going to go versus how it’s actually turned out. When I graduated college, I imagined that I would only struggle at a day job for about a year or so before being staffed as a TV writer. After all, that’s what happened to Mindy Kaling and Tina Fey in their memoirs. Over ten years later, I still haven’t been staffed, so screw those books for giving unrealistic expectations.
At my five-year college reunion, I was working part-time for minimum wage at an organic ice cream shop in Brooklyn Heights, using my downtime behind the register to write. Since then, I’ve been a cheesemonger, an HR manager, and the Music Editor of a nationally-circulated magazine. I’ve had jobs that made me so depressed I ended up in therapy, and jobs that made me so happy I cried when they ended. I’ve lost tons of screenwriting competitions, been turned down for hundreds of jobs, have never made a UCB house team. But I’ve always felt that the rejection and failure is part of the package when you’re pursuing anything creative, so I soldier on. Beyoncé says she only lets herself spend one day feeling sorry for herself before getting back to work, so I try to live like Queen Bey.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
My site Funny-ish.com is a home for weird, creative, and boundary-pushing comedy writing to live on the Internet, with a focus on new and emerging writers and female, LGBTQ+, and BIPOC voices. I’m very proud of the diversity of voices and content on the site, especially in terms of writer experience. As an editor, I don’t care if someone has been published before, as long as they’re funny. We’ve published pieces that were the writer’s first published piece, and others from writers who are regulars in The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, The Onion, heavy hitters like those. I like to take a chance on pieces that are weird, experimental, or might not fit into more established publications.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
My definition of success is getting to spend the majority of your day doing things you enjoy and/or find fulfilling while living in relative material comfort. They really have to go hand-in-hand for me, because I’ve been on both sides of having one without the other. Writing and creating is miserable when you’re worried about how to pay your rent, and material wealth is meaningless without having time to pursue your passions. Finding long-term stability with both, that’s the dream.
- Website: http://www.lizgalvao.com
- Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/lizgalvao
- Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/lizgalvao
- Other: http://www.tinyletter.com/lizgalvao