Remembering the 90's, Embarrasing Moments and Looking Ahead with Dawn Luebbe

Dawn Luebbe is an internet sensation; she's appeared in CollegeHumor videos, UCB projects, and the lauded web series High Maintenance. This writer/actor/amazon sized woman also has a very funny, aptly titled website that is dedicated to her 1992 Diary (soon to be a book!). 

Young, spry, and ready to take on the world, this comedienne is sure to make a dent in the comedy scene. I recently got a chance to speak with Luebbe about her latest effort on IFC and UCB’s Comedy Crib called Rage, a web series that takes those small instances of retrospect and turns them on their head.

You’re a Los Angeles based comic, do you ever come over to the East at all?

I actually just moved from New York a few months ago. And I’d been in New York about 15 years, right after high school. I’m in New York quite a bit. I’ve been back a few times since I’ve been out here. I was a performer at UCB New York for 3 years. I’m just starting to get into out here as well.

So how did you get started with UCB New York?

I started taking classes there - some improve classes – a while ago. I think it was back in 2006. And in 2011 [I] got put on one of the house sketch teams, a Maude team called Onassis which I was with for about three years. We’re actually still together but doing stuff independently now. So that was sort of when I started performing regularly.

Okay. So that team you were with, what kind of sketches did you usually perform?

We tend to sort of navigate to dark comedy I would say. And usually point out the selfishness and bad and dark side of human nature. Most of sketches revolve around greedy or difficult people.

So you guys are really hitting that meta comedy?

[laughs] Yes. Exactly.

How did UCB and IFC approach you for the Comedy Crib?

I guess I was originally approached by Julie Gomez who’s a producer of UCB Comedy. I had worked with [them] earlier last year. I was in a web series they did called Gary Saves The Graveyard playing a zombie nurse. And so I sort of got to know Julie who was a producer on that through doing [the series]. She had approached me and the writer Melinda Taub and she wanted to pitch a web series – starring me, written by Melinda – to IFC who was looking for web content and wanted to collaborate with UCB to create that. SO the three of us got together and pitched a bunch of ideas.

We kind of liked this idea of something around those moments, that I find especially in New York, where it’s little things that I find set you off. They just make you insanely angry but you have to, in normal life, contain yourself and act appropriately. We wanted to sort of touch and that and have it be in this alternate reality where you get to sort of explode and seek justice in this way you never get to in real life. And so we sort of came up with a pitch around that and then Julie and Todd Bieber and some other people at UCB Comedy pitched the idea to IFC along with a couple of others and they ended up coming back to us saying “yes, we want to do this!” And the rest is history.

When I was watching the latest one on the Comedy Crib – about the girl who had the idea but the other office guy was trying to take it – it really seems to be, the way you just described it right now, it just seems to be hindsight comedy.  Like the way, if I’m walking down the street and somebody pushes me off the curb, in 20 minutes I’m going to say “I should’ve pushed that guy right back.”

Exactly! Yeah and we definitely wanted to play with that idea where, in life, you always come up with the perfect thing to say or the perfect reaction later. You know, after you've had a chance to reflect on your anger and what that person said or did. So it’s sort of getting to have that fulfillment in the moment.

Moving on from the internet [to your book], My 1992 Diary, what was the idea behind that?

My mom had found a bunch of my early 90’s diaries in our basement a few years ago. Whenever I was home for Christmas or back in Nebraska we would get out these diaries and read them with my family. They were so ridiculous and silly. And about just over a year ago I decided to just post them on a blog, on a Tumblr thinking that some of my elementary school friends and family would get a kick out of them. I did not expect for them at all to one the life that it did. But it sort of got picked up by a blog, The Daily Dot, and then from there the Huffington Post and New York Magazine and Buzzfeed and a whole bunch of other places where it just kind of had its viral moment overnight pretty much.

From that, I was able to get a book deal. It’s funny because it’s not the most original idea in terms of – there have been similar movements in terms of mortified and other people reliving this 90’s nostalgia. So I guess I tried with the book and the blog to incorporate my own current comedic voice into the blog and more into the book coming up with essays around the awkward phase and delving into that as well as early 90’s culture and expounding upon that.

Were there any included cringy moments where you looked back and you were like “I probably shouldn't have done that.”

[laughs] Oh many, many moments. I think the main thing is at that age, at least for me, nothing particularly tragic had happened so any sort of small event like having my bangs not be as high as I want them to be or a guy I liked not talking to me at recess took on this big extreme gravity. Everything is relative to the pain or happiness you've experienced at any given age so this minor event just took on extreme drama. I think that just the way that I react to kind of everyday, minor occurrences in such a dramatic way is probably what’s most embarrassing.

Now that you've done sketch [and] you've done a book, are you ever going to try to do stand up at all?

I haven’t done much stand up but I actually, sort of in conjunction with the book’s release, been doing a story telling show. Which I guess is partially standup. I’m sort of scared of stand up for some reason. It’s sort of a show where I tell stories from my awkward phase and read diary entries and sort of talk about that period.

[laughs] It sounds really intimate then.

Yes, yes. There’s not much I’ve hidden. Everything from talking about how I learned everything about sex from Salt N Pepa lyrics to my obsession with wanting to get my period and not understanding why I couldn't have a bra at 11. I’ve put it all out there in a way that I shouldn't be particularly proud of.

It all sounds great. Okay. Here’s my final question. And it’s a big one. You ready?

Okay. [laughs] Let’s hear it!

As a tall woman in comedy, do you ever get typecasted?

Yes. [laughs] Absolutely! I find I’d say probably half of the auditions I go to, I’m paired with really short men or much shorter people and put in six inch heels. And I’m sort of the character or the unusually person. And I actually don’t mind it. I sort of struggled with it earlier on and being tall was always the point of embarrassment. I was self-conscious about it when I was younger. I just wanted to play Juliet in Romeo and Juliet and I realized pretty early on that was not going to be the trajectory for me. [laughs] Since then, I’ve sort of embraced that and now I actually love my height and I love playing sort of more quirky characters and towering over people. Plus, being tall is really great at parades so I like that.

Dawn Luebbe will be doing My 1992 Diary Live in UCB New York (Chelsea) March 25 at 9:30 PM and UCB Franklin (LA) March 31 at 9:30. Follow her on Twitter and buy My 1992 Diary