This month’s feature is going to be a little different. Other than the obvious, there are two lovely, talented ladies featured instead of one, we also aren’t going to technically be discussing fashion or style today.
Oh no, today we’re talking comedy with Lauren-Blair and Shannon! They’re the talented, comedy duo who created “Just Shair.” Some of you probably recognize Lauren-Blair (she’s pictured on the left), exactly one year ago she was featured on my site for her blog “Prefer to be Demure” (recently renamed “Grace Rock Kelly Roll” – love it!)
And Lauren-Blair and Shannon started “Just Shair” a little over 4 months ago. “Just Shair” features photos and videos of everything from hilarious St. Patty’s shenanigans to musings on the mysteries of Pinterest and bad song lyrics! I absolutely love seeing the photo shoots and videos Shannon and Lauren-Blair put together. Even for this interview, I couldn’t stop smiling or laughing as I read through the answers! So, prepare yourselves for the awesomeness that is Just Shair! (And if you don’t have time to read the Q&A, at least be sure to check out their YouTube channel by clicking here – you won’t regret it! For everyone else, keep scrolling to get to know Just Shair!)
Q&A With Lauren-Blair & Shannon
LBD = Lauren-Blair, SM = Shannon, JS = Just Shair (both ladies)
How did you two ladies become friends? And how long have you known each other?
LBD: We met around three years ago, give or take, in kind of a fitting way looking back! Denver has a local band named Total Ghost and they pretend to be HUGE German pop superstars. They seem slightly baffled that they’re playing small bars when they’re used to huge European stadiums (or stuff in space, as intergalactic travel is a part of their schtick) while they sing about how Mexico is the safest country ever and such. ANYWAY, Lauren-Blair and her close friend Brian had been fans of theirs for years, and when Brian met Shannon he invited her to a Total Ghost show. So basically we met at this hilarious live act that’s a real band pretending to be a fake band.
SM: Yep – That’s when the magic happened. The second time we met cemented it, as we were dressed in duct tape, bubble wrap, and cardboard. In case you couldn’t tell from Denver producing a fake real German comedy synth band, the Mile High City has a weird sense of humor. Every Wednesday in the summer there’s a themed bike party through the city (Denver Cruiser Ride) and this time around it was the beloved “Card Board, Duct Tape, and Bubble Wrap” theme. Needless to say, we were all dressed up for the ball and met each other again at the end of the ride while everyone was biking around these three story alien statues near downtown. Given our first two meeting contexts, it’d be probably weird if we started a book club instead of a comedy duo.
Can you tell us a little about “Just Shair,” and how it was started?
LBD: I had been itching to get into comedy, but was too much of a wimp for stand-up, ha. Also, though, I was trying to broaden my online brand (which stand-up wouldn’t necessarily help anyway). The idea of working with friends was really attractive too, because as any blogger or creative type knows, time gets eaten away quickly! So working with friends sounded ideal to keep a social life intact. When I did this feature a year ago with you, Lindsey, I referenced an upcoming comedy project with friends, but weirdly, Just Shair wasn’t what I was talking about! I was referencing a prank (etc) show and sadly the wheels totally fell off the cart a few weeks into filming and that made me quite sad, as that project was a year in the making nearly. However, Shannon, being the princess in shining armor that she is, had already agreed to do a “podcast or something” with me within a week or two before the other comedy project was DOA. So I didn’t have a 100% starting from scratch story in terms of end goals and I still got to enjoy being comedically creative without missing too many beats.
SM: I think Lauren-Blair was the convincer. She kept saying things like “we’re so funny together” and “I like laughing with you” and what can I say? I can be sweet-talked pretty easily. Although, I was nervous being on camera. Unlike Blair, I wasn’t familiar with it and just took a big bite of “be yourself and who cares”…and here we are!
LBD: Yeah, I was totally content with sticking with the podcast idea, but was pleasantly surprised when one day Shannon was like, “I’m cool with video.” I think we play off each other well with facial expressions, so video is probably a better medium for us.
What’s the story behind the name “Just Shair?”
LBD: I gotta give Shannon so much credit here! We were walking around a museum not minding our language in front of the children walking around, as you do, and in-between making each other laugh we joked (or I even half seriously?) pitched the idea that we should put our humor out there for the world to see. She didn’t even pause to think and said, “Yes, we could even call ourselves, Shair after Shannon and Blair!” I pretty much died laughing, and regardless of if that was the moment I officially pitched the idea of doing something like this together or not, it was solidified in my mind that this was meant to be.
SM: Once we had our name, we also didn’t want to be confused with the magnificent Cher, so we wanted to make sure we respected her “Half Breedness” and use our own spelling to reflect our names.
LBD: Plus it made sense with the spellings of our names. But we wish we could turn back time too.
How do you come up with the ideas for the photo shoots and videos you put together for Just Shair?
LBD: The videos are largely from actual conversations of things we dissect, for instance, our Pinterest video. The fact that we both genuinely didn’t understand Pinterest came up organically at some point, so we took it a step further and filmed our thoughts on it and further researched the weirdness of Pinterest. Other things we brainstorm and just try, or holidays (like the 4th of July) come up on the horizon and it seems like a good idea to add our two cents.
The photos are a little more improvised. We have an idea for what to wear and why, such as “Let’s wear coats in a half-filled pool to wish our viewers a happy 1st day of summer!” but what we actually do is dependent on lighting and location, and if we remember to include props. Sometimes there’s a rough outline of shots we ideally want, but a lot of it we just kind of make up as we go.
SM: It’s been interesting to watch our transitions in our photos. Blair helps me learn how to stand and pose to look better on film and I help her learn how to contort her face in weird ways to make ungodly expressions. It’s truly been a “shaired” experience.
LBD: It’s true, I’m obsessed with Shannon’s talent for silly faces!
I have to ask… how did you, Lauren, get all those beer cans to stay in your hair for your 4th of July post? Haha.
LBD: Shannon did a great job doing my hair, so she’ll have to answer! A few fell out by the end, but whatever. One beer in the hair or two or five all equal white trash in my book!
SM: That’s what friends do. Plus, we all have a little white trash in us somewhere that is dying to get out. I just facilitated what was meant to be. Having to drink a 6-pack of Bud Light to make the rollers was the tough part. Ha!
I do remember an unfortunate wrist-spraining accident happening during the making of one of your posts! Comedy sounds dangerous! Haha. How did that happen, and are you ok?!
LBD: Haha, I’m so accident prone it’s ridiculous. But it’s always when I’m in like, flip flops, in broad daylight, and while stone cold sober that I take a huge fall. It’s never when any of those elements are the opposite, so I thought on skates I’d be safe! And honestly, lame humble brag time: I was a very decent roller blader in my day. I could do jumps and axles and stuff that means absolutely nothing, but at 16 I was proud of my “skills”. ANYWAY, renting skates was the only option so I had to try skating over blading for the first time since I was 10 or so. We were doing practice skates in the area off of the rink that people sit and put on their skates and not being used to the front brake while misjudging how far I was from a wall to stop myself, I took a gnarly fall. It definitely hurt, but the pain subsided initially because my pain tolerance is ridiculous. It sounds like I’m humble bragging again, but it’s another thing that’s not really cool because I always end up further injuring myself thinking I’m fine. The next day it “felt funny” and the day after I knew I had a legit problem. I sprained my ankle a year ago (seriously…VERY accident prone) and the same pattern occurred. (You’d think I’d learn!)
SM: What I loved about this is that she fell, but we kept skating for a while because we were determined to make up for it – pain and all. We’re committed – ha!
LBD: We only got two shots at that point so the show had to go on! To get to the classic prom photo spot, we had to skate to the opposite side of the venue too.
What would you say your favorite Just Shair video/post is and why?
LBD: It’s tough because I feel like we’ve grown a lot since our first video and I like our recent ones more, but I hate to discount the earlier ones. All were fun to film, some worked better in theory than execution, though. And one, Celeb Crushes, had half of our content get eaten, so we had to edit around that when it probably could have been a touch better if we had all of the content. Hmm…I really liked our 4th of July Day video. It’s very observational silly, and I for one was very loose while filming to the point where it was a ‘brunch with friends’ level of comfort and lack of self-consciousness. I don’t know if Shannon felt loose or not, but I feel like she was at least pretty on fire too and we played well together. I can’t discredit our first pseudo blooper video, though. We did one video, broke for lunch, and came back to film our skating video and I just couldn’t keep it together when we started talking about the roller skating character Tootie from the Facts of Life. I’m a hard crack-up and I was crying. Seriously, life has been way better since then so I recommend a good laughing session to clear out the cobwebs! It’s hard not to be biased towards that video, which is the second in our skating serious and largely a blooper reel!
SM: I agree that we’ve grown as we’ve gone along. I know it sounds corny, but I still love our first video about St. Patty’s Day. I still have friends who comment on that video. I think it was iconic for me to be able to put myself out in the world on video while being vulnerable and silly at the same time.
If you ladies had to choose, who would you say your favorite comedians are?
LBD: I could nerd out big time here, especially if I were to infuse comedy at large, like SNL actors or choice pivotal movies and TV shows, so I’ll keep it to strictly stand-up here. John Mulaney is my absolute favorite stand-up. I’ve been a fan since he was on that VH1 show “Best Week Ever” and I am so happy to see him do well. He’s the perfect mix of random/silly with on the nose wit and intelligence. Dana Carvey had a stand-up special in the 90s that I used to watch a lot with my friend Casey and I still remember so many of his words verbatim from that special. Lewis Black was the first stand up I became a “fan of” as you would a favorite band. Kathy Griffin, Chelesa Handler, Ellen Degeneres, Whitney Cummings, and TJ Miller are also pretty up there and I was fortunate enough to see the latter two live. Finally, I listen to Pete Holme’s podcast, You May It Weird almost exclusively when I take my Border Collie for runs. He does really long tapings so it’s nice to listen to it over a few runs. I think he’s very funny, but his podcasts are endlessly entertaining because of his guests, the topics, and how introspective comedy can be. I had to include him and his podcast because I think comedy is becoming closer to deep thoughts said in silly ways and this podcast totally embodies that theory.
SM: I’m going to show how old I am now…As a child, I used to sneak in the living room at night when I was little and try to peek around the corner to watch SNL while my parents watched it. I saw Eddie Murphy and Steve Martin and would sneak in some Tonight Show with Johnny Carson at times. Then, I would watch my Dad re-enact the scenes/voices with his friends and I’d giggle, well, like a little girl. I’m still not sure if he knew I was watching it or if he thought he was really funny. Ha! My grandparents always had on comedy sitcoms in the house as well and the Carol Burnett showed cracked me up. Through college, I started enjoying the newer SNL with Adam Sandler, Chris Farley and Will Farrell. I couldn’t stop laughing. Will Ferrell is still one of my favorites. I had a friend show me Tom Papa’s stand-up and I am now a huge fan. The Colbert Report was a daily recording for me when it was on. I also love Matt Bellassai and enjoyed watching his journey from video blogging. I am a big fan of strong women in comedy as well whether it’s in the writing or acting or both – Amy Schumer, Chelsea Handler, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy are some of my favorite women in comedy and I’ll watch them anytime.
LBD: Agreed on the SNL bad boy years…totally!
Did either of you ladies have a background in comedy prior to Just Shair?
LBD: No, maybe a 4% background at best…and that’s even stretching it. I used to write about religion and politics, and the jokes kind of wrote themselves. But I think I learned I enjoyed humor in creativity in a broader sense from that, so that’s why I bring that up. And other than attempting a prank/trolling show, no. That was an invaluable experience too because it got me in the mind frame to trouble shoot on how to elevate material from joking with friends to aiming for a broader audience and it got me used to the idea of being on video, so it’s hard to discount completely. But no, there’s absolutely no “real” experience.
SM: Not.at.all. This is completely new to me! I’m relying on genetics and personality to get by every time we do something.
Unfortunately, comedy seems to still be a very male dominated field. What words of advice would you like to share with any aspiring lady comedians out there?
LBD: This one, for me at least, is the trickiest to answer! It’s such a good question and I’d love to SHAIR some awesome, insightful, and silly advice all at once advice, but I feel so unqualified. Because we’re on the Internet and we’re still so new, there hasn’t been any blatant sexism. And if we get passed over by people because we’re f*cking ladies, well, we just don’t have the data yet to back up any attempt at such a claim. I could write a whole page on how far attitudes on women being funny have come and how far we have yet to go, but I’m not sure any of it would be “helpful” to anyone aspiring to be in comedy as much as it’d just be “observations”. Since we don’t book shows or travel to gigs, or even deal with any sense of “the public”…I’m stumped at to how to answer it without being accidentally ignorant myself!
SM: What we’re doing with video and photo shoots is really different and I’m not sure there are 2 other women out there doing it the way we are right now. However, I agree that our experience is very limited since we are so very new at this whole comedy schtick. Relying on the strong ladies’ paths I mentioned earlier, along with my very limited experiences with “Just Shair”, I think just being able to put yourself out there and feel confident that someone, somewhere, will probably laugh with or at you at some point and if they don’t, then at least you were being true to yourself. Always try to respect other people and beliefs in your comedy, but also stay true to who you are – it’s a fine balance, but one that I think can be learned. We’re learning every day and would love more women to be able to come into the comedy genre. We’re here to cheer each other on!
LBD: Yeah, the confidence thing is big. There’s a lot of quotes on Amy Poehler about she was very confident on everything she did, but in a non-arrogant way. People really rave about her in that capacity. In a lot that I do, I try to adopt that, so I think Shannon hit that on the nail. Whether it’s working or not, haha. Time will tell…
What do you hope the future holds for Just Shair?
JS: We want to work with local Denver businesses and do silly interviews or tours of restaurants and bars for our blog and photo shoots. We are hoping to collaborate with people sooner than later and are open to wherever this road leads. We also hope to interview local talent (musicians and such) in some capacity. So much of this is experimental, which is what makes it fun!
Any final thoughts you would like to add?
JS: Well, we’re going to the Olympics. No, not the one in Rio, but the one in Denver that’s largely held in Shannon’s apartment. We’re competitive checker players, feared at nerf sword-fighting matches, and thumb wars. We KNOW we will sweep all of the events and likely get put on the Wheaties box afterwards, or at least the Cocoa Puffs box. Now’s a good time to tune into our social media and site, as we have a lot of content coming your way! Get ready to laugh with us (or at us) at Just Shair.
Thank-you so much for having us too! It was a joy being interviewed and we were super excited for this opportunity to “Just Shair” ourselves with you!