For comedian Ali Macofsky, being “passionately apathetic” is her forte
At 17 years old, Ali Macofsky knew she wanted to do more than follow the road to a “normal” job. After looking up to comedians throughout her life, the young comic was certain the path to greatness was on a stage, sharing her own experiences with others. Not knowing how to get there was the only thing holding her back.
Between working with comics such as Jim Jefferies and Joe Rogan, planning a tour with St. Vincent and even hosting her own podcast, Resting Bitch, Macofsky’s rise to stardom is only just beginning. Though she could’ve chosen a different career path and been the next Katy Perry but “with a bit of an indie flair,” the comic takes heart in the fact that she’s still on a stage, achieving her dream one joke at a time.
Let’s start at the beginning. Was there a defining moment where you decided that comedy was something you wanted to pursue seriously? How did others react?
I think the defining moment for me was going to see comedy shows in high school and realizing that what they were doing wasn’t spontaneous. They were telling funny stories that they were actually writing. That was their job. I was so naive before. I just thought these people got lucky and they were just funny. Once I realized it was something that I could work toward, and actually have it be a career, is when I decided to make that decision to pursue it. I set it up in a really great way where I told my mom I was gonna join the Israeli army. She started crying and was like, “Just drop out of school and do comedy full time.” I was like, “Sounds good. Great idea.” So everyone was very supportive.
Why the Israeli army?
I had gone to Israel right after my first year of college, and I knew I wasn’t going to stay in college. I had a great time on my trip, and I was like, “How can I just stay here longer?” I thought, “I’ll just become a medic in the Israeli army and live there for two or three years.” I thought I would have more stories to tell and that I’d have a whole new perspective on things, and that would add so much. But I also probably could have died.
You have a very “this is what it is” attitude in your deliveries. How would you describe your style to someone who’s interested in seeing you perform for the first time?
I always feel bad saying this, because it seems like it has a negative connotation, but I don’t view it that way. I’m almost passionately apathetic. I feel like my stance is pretty laid back, but I can be aggressively laid back or almost like the most unchill, chill person. It is interesting because, as a female comic, I noticed that other people will describe my comedy in ways that I would never describe it or think of myself. I just did a show, and someone was like, “Oh, I really like your dark sense of humor.” And I’m like, “I don’t even know if I was talking about anything dark.” Or maybe just hearing a woman, a young lady, talk about certain things may feel dark to you.
A lot of comedians take their own experiences from life and share them with others to laugh with them. That takes a lot of trust in your audience and vulnerability.
I really like singing. I don’t think I’m an incredible singer, but I also wasn’t an incredible stand-up when I first started. I was trying to decide, “Should I go into singing? Should I go into comedy?” Something about singing seemed way more vulnerable. People generally know whether someone is good or bad at singing. To me, that’s way more vulnerable because if I sing flat or hit a note weird, everyone’s going to know. With comedy, if I say something that’s a personal experience and it doesn’t go well, it’s like, “OK, maybe that personal experience doesn’t translate.” But maybe there’s one other person in the audience who’s like, “That’s hilarious.” If one person relates to that, I’m like, “OK, I don’t feel as vulnerable about it.”
Has there been a point where you’re creating not for yourself but only because there are others who expect it from you?
Constantly. I’m not stoked about the pandemic. It’s been very hard, but I was grateful that there was a time where I didn’t have any pressure to do anything. I was like, “Oh, my God, I almost have this time to just be a person without any sort of job or any sort of identity.” As soon as I realized I’m gonna have to go back into real life again, [that’s] when it kicked in.
All of this pressure, too much thinking. I got in my head. The nice thing, and also the worst thing, about comedy is that it’s one of those things I just have to keep doing even if I don’t feel funny, even if I haven’t written something I liked in a long time. It’s like that thing of, when I feel like shit, I know the things that are gonna make me feel better, but because I feel like shit, I don’t want to do those things. I do them, and it might not happen right away, but eventually, it’ll make me feel better.