Now that Kenice Mobley and comedy have connected, there’s no turning back
By Nick A. Zaino III GLOBE CORRESPONDENT DECEMBER 23, 2016
Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.
Think of: She’s a big fan of Aziz Ansari, which shows sometimes in her enthusiastic delivery, and her material is reminiscent of Gary Gulman.
What caught our eye: Her own sets at The Comedy Studio, and her roast with Emily Ruskowski on Boston’s “Comic vs. Comic” show.
Light bulb moment: Mobley came to Boston to get her MFA in film production from Boston University, a program she ultimately finished in Los Angeles. She had performed at a couple of open mikes in both cities, but a turning point came when she took a class at ImprovBoston and overheard some students talk about how it was so much fun to try standup. She couldn’t understand the idea of doing it on a whim, of not taking it seriously. “Even though I’ve just done this a couple of times, this seems right,” she remembers thinking.
Biggest thrill: Mobley mentions two. She loves to win over an audience that other comics couldn’t crack. And she loves it when a joke almost writes itself, because that’s not how herprocess usually works. “I’ll kind of attack [a premise] from a few different angles on paper, and work it out like a math problem,” she says. “Other times, a joke will just pop into my head almost fully formed, and I love that feeling.”
Biggest surprise: She was never the class clown, and she says she’s not even the funniest or most outspoken person in her family. So it surprised Mobley that she found a community of people doing standup from unlikely backgrounds, and it made her wonder why she hadn’t started earlier. “How did I not know this was a thing before this? I didn’t start comedy until I was 27.”
Inspired by: When she sees other comedians hustling, it motivates her to work harder. “I know that they’re out night after night after night and during the day they’re just writing more and more material,” she says. “That I respect a ton and that always inspires me to do more.”
Aspires to: She’s done comedy in Boston and Los Angeles, and now she’s prepared to take on New York. “I like my material now, but I know I’m definitely still young in the game,” she says. “I want to get better material, create more material, and do it in front of a greater variety of audiences.”
For good luck: Eating something before going onstage helps her keep focused. But she also has a more unusual practice to keep her on her toes. “I like needing to go to the bathroom — it creates an urgency,” she says, laughing. “I will drink a large container of water sometimes before I have to go onstage just so that my body is like, ‘Things are going on! Everything’s happening right now!’ ” It calms the kinds of anxieties that might detract from her performance. “It distracts me from my brain nervousness and makes me focus on body nervousness,” she says. “It’s great! Anything that gets me out of my head.”
What people should know: Mobley splits her time between standup, podcasting, and using her filmmaking skills. She wrote and produced the Web series “Allston X-Mas,” and has written, produced, and directed short films. There are two Web series in the works, one with Boston comedian Sam Ike, that will come out in the next year. She also hosts and produces the “Person About Town” podcast. “I want to keep being able to do all three, but I know that different things will take precedence at different times.”
Coming soon: She’ll be doing standup at the “Sailor Moon Shoujo Spectacular!” show at Oberon in Cambridge Dec. 29, and she’ll be playing Nick’s Comedy Stop in Boston with headliner Will Noonan on New Year’s Eve. She’ll also be appearing regularly at The Comedy Studio.