Student Turned Teacher.
Kate Lambert is a well-recognized name around the Chicago comedy community. I was lucky enough to snag some of her time for this interview before she move to Los Angeles this week to pursue the next step in her career. Well Kate, we’ll miss you around town and best of luck lady!
What prompted you to begin your Chicago comedy career?
I moved to River Forest (a suburb of Chicago) for 8th grade and high school. I was a Theatre major at Wake Forest University and after I graduated from college, I came back to save up money to move to New York to pursue acting. That summer, I worked on the fundraising campaign at the Steppenwolf. My New York plans wound up falling through and I stayed. A couple years later, I decided to take an Improv for Actors class at The Second City. During that class, I fell in love with improv and wanted to keep doing it.
Were you always a performer or anything like “the class clown?”
I was definitely not the class clown, but I always loved performing—as a kid, I always put on plays, mime acts, etc. At school, I was a pretty serious student and really involved in extracurricular activities. One of my friends in high school used to make fun of me by calling me a “walking college application.” I always liked comedy and making my friends laugh, but I saved it for outside of class.
Where all have you studied/performed in Chicago?
I did the Conservatory and Musical Improv Program at The Second City and iO’s improvisation program. I’ve performed at The Second City, iO, The Annoyance, The Playground Theater, Gorilla Tango, Stage 773, Stage Left Theatre and Studio BE.
How did The Katydids form?
Caitlin Barlow came up with the idea to put together a group of women who all had variations of the name Kate. We did our first show at The Playground Theater and some of us first met right before we performed. At the time, we thought it might just be a fun, one off show, but we had such a great time together that we eventually pursued a run at Studio BE and that’s where we decided to get a coach, begin rehearsing and trying to perform at other theatres as a group.
How did the “Teachers” web series come to fruition?
Matt Miller approached us with the idea of “Teachers.” We then each came up with our characters and began writing the web series. Cap Gun Collective then came on to produce the web series alongside us, and they did such an amazing job of filming the series as well. We filmed for three days in the summer of 2012. We began releasing the web series towards the end of 2012 and it gained a following and was even featured on The Onion. We then started to focus on doing more with it—packaging it, etc. We were recently given a pilot order from TV Land and I am moving to Los Angeles this week and can’t wait to get started.
That’s crazy. Well, congratulations! If you could do it again, what is one thing you would have done differently?
I hate to sound cliché, but I’m not sure if I would wish for anything to go differently. This was my first time doing anything like this and it was a great experience. I wouldn’t take anything back because whatever happens, you learn from it.
You have been in a number of Second City productions and last fall got to step in for Holly Laurent on Mainstage in Let Them Eat Chaos. What was that experience like for you?
It was an incredible honor to finish the run for Holly when she moved away. I admire her so much as a performer and a person, and she was always so lovely to me onstage (when I understudied Katie Rich) and off. The cast was a fantastic group of people and the show itself also meant a lot to me, so to be able to perform something that I really held close to my heart with people I loved, was amazing.
Which one experience (in performing in general) has taught you the most and what major lesson(s) did you learn from it?
I think the best thing I’ve learned is more from my collective experience and that is not to wait for someone to notice you or give you an opportunity. No one knows your strengths better than you, so don’t wait for something to come your way and instead create the material you want to do.
I love that. If the Kate Lambert of five years ago would have guessed where she’d be in five years, is this what she would have expected? What is different?
Five years ago, I hadn’t yet been hired by The Second City, was on my first Harold team at iO, and was doing a ton of different shows around the city. I think I would have hoped that I would have an opportunity like the one we currently have with TV Land, but I don’t think I could have dreamed something like this up. It is such an incredible and exciting opportunity.
In an ideal world, where do you envision yourself in the next five years?
Oh, boy. In the next five years, I hope that I am still doing what makes me most happy and that is creating material and acting. I would also love to do movies in addition to television. And I hope—I really, really hope that I have a dog.
Well, I hope you have a dog too. Alright, last question: What is the greatest insight you’ve discovered about life and comedy?
I think that no matter what, people need to laugh – even in the most trying of circumstances. I think comedy is one of the best ways to illuminate an issue or have people look at it in a different way. My grandfather passed away from Alzheimer’s last year and it was very difficult for me. For our holiday show, I decided to write a scene about two women with Alzheimer’s in a nursing home waiting for their families. At the end of the scene, you discover they are sisters. It was a more serious scene, but it also had comedic elements. It really meant a lot for me to write something like that. I felt like I was able to honor my granddad by writing about this disease and its effects and being able to share it with an audience helped me. I feel that even in life’s darkest moments, you still have to laugh and it can be really healing.
Thank you so much for your time and best of luck in LA!