Funny Girl


Whether standing up on a stage or chatting about a whole lot of nothing on a podcast, Amanda Goldstein Marks loves to share.

Written by Joe  O’Donnell

Amanda Marks jokes that she started doing stand-up comedy when she got famous DJs Mark and Brian to hand her the microphone as they were emceeing her brother’s bar mitzvah. She was eight-years-old.

“I kind of took over. I’ve always been extremely at home on stage and have just always loved having a microphone in my hand.”

Always a performer at heart, she remembers auditioning for school plays and taking acting classes, and later auditioning for the improv troupe at college. “They didn’t want me and I ended up majoring in television. I started off on doing production work and realized pretty quickly that I loved being on set, but I wanted to be on the other side of the camera,” Marks says.

“I didn’t really pursue it because I always wanted to live in the Southeast near family, and I just didn’t even think that was an option.”

But Atlanta (where Marks has lived since 2003) grew into an option. She worked at Cartoon Network and saw Atlanta blossom as a movie and television production hub. “The film and TV industry in Georgia and specifically Atlanta has just gotten immense. It’s very emotional for me to realize that this dream I always had of being in front of the camera could happen and I don’t have to leave Atlanta. I don’t have to compromise being close to my family.”

Birmingham factors deeply in her comedy, blog and podcast content. “I talk about growing up in Birmingham a lot, and I just, I loved my childhood, and Birmingham’s a big part of that. We come home every Thanksgiving. We have a big family reunion there.”

About six years ago, she took some acting classes, even a standup class.

“It wasn’t the idea of getting up on stage that intimidated me. It was the idea of writing my own material and being the only one responsible up there.”

She soon got over that though. “Writing my own material is what helped create my love for performing stand-up comedy. It’s the fact that I didn’t have to rely on anyone and it was all about how hard I worked and how much time I put into writing and evolving my material.”

What she creates is anecdotal and entertaining, evolving into comedic material from the life of this mom of three children including twins soon to be 10 and a boy 13.  “My favorite thing in the world is making people laugh and making people happy and making myself laugh.

“I realized after talking to people and then working at Cartoon Network and meeting show creators that the people who got their shows created were the people who did everything, everything on their own. So they weren’t just coming up with the concept, they were writing the script. They’re doing character illustrations, they’re doing storyboards, they were doing the voice over work. They also weren’t waiting for someone to hire them. They had already created all these animated shorts and entered festivals. So I’ve kind of taken that approach to performance and entertainment, creating content and putting it out there. It gives me a lot of joy and happiness,” Marks says.

She has taken that approach with another main aspect of her work, a podcast she created with her sister Alison Goldstein Lebovitz. “About two years ago, my sister and I were talking on the phone as we do several times a week and we jokingly said this would make a great podcast. And because we’re both proactive, about a week later we had a website, a brand, a logo and the podcast. It’s called Sis and Tell.”

Marks coined the tagline: “A whole lot of talk about a whole lot of nothing.”

“It’s as if you are listening in on a conversation that Alison and I are having. We tell a lot of anecdotes about growing up in Birmingham, growing up in a Jewish community in the South. Just funny, weird stuff that’s happened to us. We’ve gone on rants about emotional support animals on airplanes,” Marks says. “The essence of the podcast is about our relationship with each other and interacting with each other. More so about that ten whatever subject we happen to be talking about.”

The podcast is just a part of her multimedia portfolio. There is also her web series, Mom Cam in the Minivan, where she can be found rapping the Beastie Boys or imagining a seven-course meal from the snack items she finds on the van’s floorboards. Her website is mallofamanda.com.

She is one busy woman, and says she has a good sense of what she is producing and where she wants to develop an audience. “I feel lucky that I didn’t start until now for so many reasons. Number one, I have much thicker skin now than I did when I was 22.  I’m okay with rejection if the audience isn’t laughing at me. I’m like, what can I do to improve that joke? It doesn’t get to me.

“I have a professional background that I’ve utilized to help project my comedy career forward. I have a background in marketing and branding, and I’ve used that to brand our podcast and market it.  It’s okay to have a niche. I mean if you look at the way we consume media now, it’s all just hyper niche.”

“It’s self fulfilling. When it comes down to it, it’s what makes me happy. It’s happiness.” But she keeps her perspective, as well. If she were to get a request to perform stand-up on a Wednesday night at some pizza place 90 minutes away, unlike many comedians struggling for success, she says she’d likely not make the gig.

“I have a look at that and say, would this opportunity make me happy? And it wouldn’t, having to drive 90 minutes, leave my family, put my husband in a situation where he had to leave work early to go do x, y and z. It wasn’t going to make me happy.”

 

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