Welcome to “Seven Minutes in Heaven” GO Magazine’s brand new interview series that profiles a different queer lady each day, by asking her seven custom (sometimes random) questions. Get to know the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of the groundbreaking, fierce forces-of-nature in the queer community.
I first met the screamingly-funny comedic-force-of-nature that is Ashley Gavin, earlier last year while making a video for “Elite Daily” about “Alpha Girls.” In the video, I play her controlling, alpha girlfriend (shocker) and she plays my ~submissive~ partner. The moment she improvised a line about using a “toilet plunger” on my boobs, I inherently knew we would get along.
And I, personally, have a strong lesbian witch-vibe that Gavin is going to be The Next Big Thing in the comedy world.
So lesbians, gays, queers, bi-sexuals, and everyone else, I’m honored today to feature the brilliant, the talented and the hyper-witty, Ashley Gavin for today’s rendition of “Seven Minutes in Heaven.”
GO Magazine: Who are you and what do you do?
Ashley Gavin: I am Ashley Gavin and I am a stand up comic, writer, and actor. I used to work in tech and that’s a big part of my identity: I was a software engineer at a national security research lab at MIT and then the founding curriculum director at Girls Who Code. However, thank goodness, I do comedy full time now. I tour colleges around the country, done stand up on TV and the radio a bunch of times, and produce content as well. I’m the co-creator (shout out to Lee Hurst, my favorite straight girl) of “Gay Girl Straight Girl,” and an upcoming man in the street style late night talk show called “Mid Day Today with Ashley Gavin.” But above all, I am a stand-up. I recently headlined at Carolines and sold it out and it was the single greatest moment of my entire life.
My life’s motto is “Get shit done.”
GO Mag: What is the driving force behind your career/activism?
AG: I think if you ask anyone who really takes their career in comedy/performance seriously they will tell you that the driving force behind their work is that they will die if they don’t do it. And that is 100% okay. It took me a very long time to realize that. I will die if I am not a famous comedian, and when things get in my way of doing that at a breakneck pace I get pretty depressed. I spent many, many years trying to be a “productive” member of society. I got a degree in computer science, was an engineer for 2 years, and an engineering educator for 4 more. I loved that work. It was creative and intellectually stimulating. But I felt empty inside.
The first time I ever did stand up everything clicked: “This forever.” I put everything else second after that moment and now I am happier than I’ve ever been. I don’t know whether or not comedy helps other people beyond being a basic form of escapism, but if it does, it’s not the primary reason I do stand up. The primary reason I do stand up is because it fills the void inside of me that not everyone has. If you don’t have a giant gaping hole in your heart or soul, consider yourself lucky. But I do, and if I don’t do stand up it eats me from the inside. It sounds dramatic, and it totally is.
Obviously as a lesbian who does comedy about sexuality, gender, race, class, etc. I do intend to write material that makes people view the world differently, but I don’t think of myself as an activist. If my work does help people in that way or mobilizes them to do some good, that’s awesome. But the driving force behind what I do is an unquenchable neurosis inside of me and to categorize it in any other way would be a lie. However, I do take pride in the fact that I don’t write about fluff.
GO Mag: Where do you go for inspiration when you’re feeling discouraged or depleted?
AG: When I first started doing comedy I got a list of quotes from people I respected, mostly artists, and built a website that randomly generated the quotes and superimposed them over a picture of myself performing. It’s the homepage on my web browser. It’s like Tina Fey is delivering me a personalized message. I never know which one is coming and the list is huge, so sometimes I forget I even wrote them down. It feels organic even though it’s totally not (the magic of computer science!).
Also when I feel really down I’ll make a list of all my accomplishments to remind myself that I am not a piece of shit. I also love to read about other artists in the non-performing space (e.g. painters, sculptors, etc.). I get inspiration from it without comparing myself to others. Sometimes I’ll go to The Met or the Guggenheim if I’m feeling especially uninspired.
GO Mag: Who are your biggest queer lady role models?
AG: Obviously Ellen. In one of Ellen’s earlier specials, after her show was canceled (because she came out), she took questions at the end of her set. She was so incredibly kind and so many young, gay women were moved by her work. The most amazing part: her work is completely universal and doesn’t touch on her sexuality at all. Just by being a great comedian who happens to be gay, she did so much for so many people. My comedy has no resemblance to Ellen’s, but her work made a huge difference to me, without being remotely political, she motivated me to be proud of who I am.
GO Mag: Describe yourself in three words?
AG: Gold. Star. Lesbo. Goal Smashing Monster. More seriously: Intense. Hilarious. Focused.
GO Mag: What music are you listening to right now?
AG: I am listening to commentators on CNN discussing Trump’s latest douchebaggery.
GO Mag: Where can people find you?
AG: @ashgavs on everything.