Today we’d like to introduce you to Raja Michael.
So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was a domestic violence counselor when I first started doing stand-up. Stand-up was something I always wanted to do but didn’t know that you can just do it. I think being in a very intense line of work made me feel the need for release and expressing myself more and more.
A friend of mine told me that the only difference between me and the people on stage at the comedy shows we went to was that they tried. This is when this journey began for me.
One thing that I wasn’t prepared for when I first started was how much work goes into being a good comic. Writing, performing, rewriting. I’m a Leo and naturally, I just wanted all the glory, lol, but there is no glory without a lot of hard work.
I recorded my album “Brownie Points” with my creative slash life partner Lenny Shelton who also happens to one of my favorite comics in the whole world. We kept talking about doing it and thinking we would. Then one day we were like enough is enough and we set a date. Suddenly our wish became a goal. We made a plan and just did it. That’s when our goal became a reality. I feel proud of what we created. It may sound full of yourself to say, “Hey what we made is really good!” but I’m a Leo, I can get away with that.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The biggest challenge for me is balancing my time. L.A. is not a cheap place to live and paying bills and not becoming homeless is a huge struggle for any artist living out here. Having the time and energy to do everything I want to do is very difficult. I often remind myself that it is okay to do what I can. As long as you are doing something, you are doing a lot.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
As a comic, I would be considered a smart comic. I think it is very tempting as a woman of color in this world to just do the same material this industry finds it acceptable to do just to find work. But I really try to resist that. I mean, I don’t mind telling jokes about being South Asian and my parents, but only if those are the jokes I want to tell. I don’t want to do things that are hack or just fit into stereotypes people expect of me, even if they are not my truth. Also, I have a wide range of opinions, observations, and insights about all kinds of things that happen in this world. I am a person in this world, why shouldn’t I? I have a right to write my material about anything I care about, not just a narrow set of topics that are considered marketable for South Asian comics to do in a white led industry. I am in this to be a whole person, and that is what I’m going to be. It is a harder road to be true to yourself but it is by far, more rewarding.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I am really fortunate to be surrounded by great friends who believe in me. I am so amazed how many people that I knew from different phases of my life, some who I haven’t seen in a long time, express support and belief in me the way they have. I once got a facebook message from someone who’s picture I didn’t recognize right away. It was my aunt who I barely ever saw in my life because she lives in India. It was a long encouraging note telling me she saw a video of me performing stand up on youtube and how proud she was of me. She told me that it will be an encouragement to a lot of South Asian girls and young women who also want to the same. It made me cry. My biggest supporter is my boyfriend and creative partner Lenny Shelton. I do my best to always be his biggest supporter too.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @rajamichaelcomedy
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RajaComedy/
- Twitter: @rajachristina
Personal picture – lionfly; Samuel Theophilus; Raja Michael; Gilbert&Gilbert; Martin Chavez, Sylvia Tovar-photo design Catherine Ouellette