INTERVIEW: Emily Misura discusses comedy and her debut album “Trigger Warning”
Written by Staff on 18 April 2022
Toronto-based comedian Emily Misura has announced the release of her debut comedy album Trigger Warning. It releases across all platforms on 4/20, but you can pre-save it now HERE. This album is described as irreverent, ironic and irrevocably prolapsed. It covers almost anything you can think of in a very wylin’ 45 minutes of fuckery: triggers, kink shaming, hyperhidrosis, Mensa, the 2016 election, American healthcare, boomers, millennials, dick pics, social media, body positivity, cancel culture and everyone’s favourite mega church pastor, Joel Osteen.
- Can you tell us a bit about where you’re from and how you got started in comedy?
Emily Misura: I was born in New York, but spent the majority of my life in Florida (yeehaw!) Only about a year ago, I moved to Toronto which is where I live, laugh, love™ now. I got started in comedy mainly because I had always wanted to try it and because I made myself laugh a lot. It came out of a place of egomania like all performing arts, basically.
- Have you always wanted to be a comedian, or were you drawn towards other entertainment arts first?
Emily Misura: I definitely started on a different path – I graduated from music school with degrees in music technology and classical violin performance. I still actively gig and record music, but thought comedy would be an exciting and huge deviation from the often stuffy and pretentious world of classical music. Don’t get me wrong, I love to listen to Bach and sniff my farts as much as the next guy. I just now can fart onstage and be praised for it.
- Who were your first and strongest influences that you can remember, and who really makes you laugh right now?
Emily Misura: Robin Williams is my all-time favourite comedian. I always wanted to channel that energy. He graduated from Juilliard and used it to absolutely rip comedic ass on and offstage, for Sate’s sake. I don’t know that there is a comedian I could ever respect more. But I also love some people who, like Jeffrey Epstein, didn’t kill themselves: Nikki Glaser, Eric Andre, Bo Burnham and Marc Rebillet.
- What do you feel are the key elements in your craft that should resonate with audiences?
Emily Misura: I commit to the meme in all aspects. Even if I’m performing at an open mic in a tiny taco bar in some hipster neighborhood of Toronto, I’m still giving 169% of pure, unadulterated screaming into the void. I spend a lot of time rehearsing, meaning I don’t wing things. I’d hope that even with how random and bizarre everything seems, people can appreciate that the performance is well-oiled. Excuse me, LUBED. Even if the jokes might not be relatable or land all the time, maybe people can observe and appreciate that aspect.
- How do you usually come up with new material?
Emily Misura: I’ll think of something that will strike me as funny, then make a note of it on my phone. Then I’ll try to rework it in one of the thousand random notebooks scattered around the house. Sometimes I hate write. I did that a lot on Trigger Warning. The rap I wrote about Joel Osteen (called “Opulence Osteen”) was hate-written on my phone after I read a few articles about how much of a hypocritical piece of shit he is. It will be a fun game for people to play when listening to the album: “Did she think this was a funny topic, or did she hate-write this?” If you want to have even more fun, take a shot every time you think something was hate-written. I am not responsible for anyone’s alcohol poisoning, though.
- Do you, and how do you, practice material?
Emily Misura: I practice violin every day. I also practice shitposting every day by merely going on Facebook. But in terms of running actual bits and/or songs? Whenever there’s an upcoming show, I’ll go over everything for at least 1-2 weeks in blocks of an hour. I apply the discipline I learned with classical performance to comedy, which is pretty ironic; no one thinks about approaching BJ jokes in such a meticulous way, I don’t think. But that makes me feel the most settled and the most prepared, even though I often feel like I’m flying by the seat of my overly-tight pants.
- When doing stand-up comedy, how do you deal with hecklers?
Emily Misura: Oh God, hecklers. Well luckily, I haven’t had too many wanks interrupt live performances. I deal with a lot of so-called “haters” online, since that’s where the majority of my comedy exists right now. Usually, I wait until after the show to zing particularly rude men (I’ve not had any drunken twats try to heckle me yet.) Something that bothers me almost as much as a heckle is people talking in unfettered tones, aka LOUDLY AS SHIT. I’ve had some hissy fits about that on the musical side of things before. It’s like, why pay for a show and then talk the entire time? Go to therapy if you need to talk constantly. It will benefit you, and maybe your therapist will tell you you’re a cunt for constantly needing to hear your own voice.
- Is there anything you won’t joke about?
Emily Misura: I’m not sure why some people have comedic limits. Maybe out of self-preservation? Comedy is the bravest form of art, because you have to be willing to talk about deeply personal, taboo, and inappropriate things onstage… in front of however many people. I tried to talk about anything and everything on Trigger Warning; though it took some getting used to, I don’t regret it. There’s a difference between making a joke about something and targeting something maliciously. People often see comedy as mean-spirited because it discusses sensitive issues – but context and intent will ALWAYS be the most important aspects of a joke to consider. So, to come back to it, no. Either everything is ok or nothing is ok. How people can paint all comedians with such broad strokes is beyond me. Maybe if they focused more on stroking it in general, they wouldn’t be so miserable that they need to constantly come after those of us trying to make others laugh.
- What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your life or career so far, and how did you overcome that event?
Emily Misura: The most difficult thing in my life is a rather loaded question, so I’m not sure where to even start with that without getting too woe-is-me. But a major influence to go into comedy was because I’ve had so many unfortunate and unfunny things happen to me. Doing standup and comedy in general is a testament to how much naysaying I’ve had to overcome. Because if you’re not laughing about it all you’re crying, right?
- What would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your life or career so far?
Emily Misura: I think releasing this album has been a significant turning point. Sure, I may still be some unknown musician/comedian releasing a musical comedy album that like, five people will listen to and care about. But I think even putting those songs out there was a huge step for me. I’m worried about the blowback I’ll receive when, inevitably, people misunderstand my intent and come at me. But I’m actually pretty proud of myself for having the figurative balls to say some of the things I do on the album. I don’t often let myself feel proud. I’ve spent the last year of quarantine/the never-ending pandemic reflecting on why I’ve let so many shitty people dictate what I can/cannot or should/should not say. I think COVID broke me and I just said “fuck it,” but in a surprisingly positive way. Luckily, not in a COVID positive way, though.
- Putting aside any accolades or criticisms that fans, the industry, or the media may afford you, is there anything about your craft that you think people may overlook, underestimate or misunderstand at all?
Emily Misura: I think people will always overlook intent, because the internet is just one gigantic “outrage machine” (to quote Jon Stewart.) That’s going to be an unfortunate but all-too-real side effect of releasing edgy material in 2022. I think many people will underestimate the musical complexity I’ve added into some of these songs, even if it’s in an innocent and totally unintentional way. I’m REALLY hoping that people who have theory and/or classical backgrounds will get some of the musical jokes, though. A great example of this is how I have a four-part harmony while singing “suck my dick.” That is beyond hysterical to me, since I had to take so many semesters of music theory and composition in college. And look at where it got me! UR WELCUM.
- Has anything embarrassing ever happened during any of your performances?
Emily Misura: I’ve had memory lapses, though nothing super significant. That always feels embarrassing, even if people can’t tell. In my mind, I see that as a failure and then feel like the performance was blown even if the reactions were good. Probably the most consistently embarrassing thing that happens is me sweating through my shirt. But I’ve gotten over it by making jokes about being a moist, sweaty bitch. I have a song (“Moist”) about my struggle with hyperhidrosis. It helps to joke about your insecurities… and then upping the ante by writing an entire song about it and releasing it on an album available on over 150 platforms.
- With social media having a heavy impact on our lives and the entertainment business in general, how do you handle criticism, haters and/or naysayers in general? Is it something you pay attention to and reply to, or do you simply ignore and move on?
Emily Misura: I made a vow to myself that when I release Trigger Warning, I’m going to do just that – release it. I will not argue with people about its content, defend anything, or engage in any sort of back and forth. I’ve made the mistake of engaging with trolls from both sides of the political spectrum, and I’m not going to do it with this album. It is what it is – a shitpost. If you can’t handle it, fuck off somewhere else. I will literally hold the door for you on your way out – JK, I’ll slam it in your self-righteous face because #feminism.
- Were you the classroom joker? Do you crack jokes in real life or are you quite serious?
Emily Misura: I was actually the class busy body. I was an overachiever all throughout school until around the time of being forced to prove myself and my worth in the form of orchestra chair auditions. Those started to break me. In general, I can come off kind of kind of intense if you don’t know me. But even with that being said, I do still like to joke and clown around, since random interactions are like micro crowd work.
- Could you tell us something about how your debut comedy album “Trigger Warning” which will be released 4/20, came to be?
Emily Misura: A lot of this album was inspired by people telling me what I could and couldn’t say, or what I should or shouldn’t joke about. I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty liberal person, but I’m really NOT into the SJW, overly PC culture. This album was the direct response to people who I thought were friends or respected colleagues constantly trying to police my language and impress upon me how much better they are for not saying x, y or z. A lot of these songs probably come from a place of societal spite. But I don’t think it makes them any less worthy of intelligent discussion or consumption.
- It’s my understanding that “Trigger Warning” is a musical album. So did you write all the songs and the music, as well as perform on all tracks?
Emily Misura: I wrote all of the songs, performed all of the songs (which is why the guitar work on “Above the Influence” is so shitty), mixed all of the songs, and mastered all of the songs except for two that I had help on. That’s a lot to do yourself. That’s probably why I had to pump the brakes on performing comedy live for a while – I just wanted to complete the songs so I could move on with my life. It was a very ambitious undertaking, and in a lot of ways it felt like I was an undertaker: completing the album would be death to the Emily Misura that so many thought they knew, and the birth of the Emily Misura only a handful have actually seen. WAKE UP, BITCHES, I’M COMING FOR YOUR BUTTHOLE.
- What genre or styles of music can fans expect to hear, and what according to you are the highlights or significant elements to watch out for on the album?
Emily Misura: When I started to upload the album to various platforms, the consistent question was “what genre is this song?” Besides the obvious comedy header, there are a lot of sub-genres. I have VERY white rap, I have EDM bangers, I have piano ballads, and I have even Andrew Bird-like violin homages. The combo of all these genres helps to drive home the absolutely unhinged nature of the album as a whole. There are parts that I am prouder of than others, but I don’t want to force anyone to laud things just because I said so; I’d rather people tell me what they appreciate. But in all actuality, it will probably end up being people bitching about things they found inappropriate or unfunny. Maybe they’ll even call me sophomoric and derivative the way my dad did LOLOLOL #bitter
- Which topics and themes will “Trigger Warning” be focusing on, and does the album have an overarching message?
Emily Misura: I address all of the topics both on the album cover (expertly created by my friend Chris Chan) and in the very first track. I address all of the “triggers” in the intro specifically so that no one could be like, “You didn’t tell me you were going to make a joke about [insert taboo topic here], you fucking BIGOT!” I tried to get ahead of the hate, in that way. If people didn’t think that was enough, I actually trigger warning the title track in its entirety, just to drive home the irony. I find over-explaining jokes or beating dead horses extremely amusing, even though I now sound like a shitty animal activist/vegetarian by referencing a euphemism about animal abuse. I legit just triggered myself like WOW.
- Do you have a favorite motto, phrase or piece of advice you try to live or inspire yourself by?
Emily Misura: Besides all three “Lord of the Rings” scripts in their entirety, one of my favourite quotes is, “They try to say it don’t be like it is, but it do.” I think that perfectly encapsulates the nature of the shitpost. The best shitpost is intentional yet unassuming, and contains a depth of consideration the average, less-internet-nuanced person might miss. A fitting example: someone telling me that they were so offended about one of my songs that they can no longer be friends with me. It’s like, if you knew me in any sense of the word, you’d know my intentions were comedic rather than nasty. By you unfriending me, you’re refusing to even dialogue about my perspective or intentions, thereby ironically having a one-sided conversation with your own echo. For people so keen on broadening their world views, that’s pretty fucking ironic. “They try to say it don’t be like it is” (that they’re not actually creating their own echo chamber by citing perceived bigotry as justification for no longer communicating with me), “but it do” (but they are by refusing to listen to anything that challenges the status quo.)
- What do you find most rewarding about what you do? And do you have a specific vision or goal set in your mind that you would like to achieve in the near future?
Emily Misura: I’d like to go more viral than the AIDS epidemic of the 80’s. YIKES SO INAPPROPRIATE #cancelled. But if there was one thing I’d actually like to accomplish with this album, it would be to make one random person shit their pants laughing. If I can achieve just one pants shitting, it will have all been worth it.