By Brittany Bell (’21), student writing assistant, Office of Alumni Relations
When Wendy Maybury (’99) graduated from JMU, she had no set plans. Bouncing between different jobs, she struggled to find her passion. Now, she takes center stage with her standup comedy. Her debut album, She’s Not from Around Here, and monthly show Day Drinking with Mom?have made her a huge hit on the Minneapolis comedy scene. ?
As a student at JMU, Maybury was active as a photographer for The Breeze?and worked for WXJM, the student radio station. However, her first job after graduation was with a diesel fuel company in Germany. After spending a few not-so-fun years there, she decided to return to the states and delve into photography. After receiving a degree in photography from the Hallmark Institute, she began working for various studios in New York and Los Angeles.
During her years as a photographer, Maybury traveled all over the country, but it wasn’t until she went to work for a Target portrait studio in Minneapolis that she found her passion for comedy at an open mic night.
“Here I had lived in L.A. and lived in New York, where it would’ve been really convenient to have a standup career, but I waited until I moved to the Midwest,” Maybury joked.
After hopping off stage from her first performance, Maybury was approached by a woman who offered her a gig to do standup at a birthday party. From there, she began performing at open mic nights and doing gigs on the side. Now, she has a full-blown standup career. Maybury has performed at clubs, casinos, corporate events, birthday parties and more.
“It was really great right away,” Maybury said. “People pay you to talk! I was like, ‘Are you kidding? Where has this been all my life?’”
Currently, she is signed with Standup! Records, an independent comedy label.?She’s Not from Around Here?hit No. 1 on the Amazon comedy chart. She is also co-producer of the comedy show Day Drinking with Mom, a monthly showcase at Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy in the Mall of America in Minneapolis.
“I’ve basically been doing everything I can think of to write more and meet more people and go do shows,” Maybury said. “I got to travel with standup, which was pretty great, headlining different clubs and meeting some famous people. All that stuff has been really fun.”
At the beginning of Maybury’s standup career, many of her jokes revolved around her weight and her crazy Southern family. After having a child, many of her new jokes began to focus on motherhood.
Maybury’s favorite comedy is grounded in truth. ?One thing she likes to play on is the different types of people you meet in life.
A recent act of hers talks about her new boyfriend and how they’re very different in their beliefs. The joke is that she’s a First Amendment-type of person and he’s a Second Amendment-type of person—the liberal vs. conservative clash you get when talking with your loved ones about politics.
”The number one thing comedy should make you do is laugh, end of story. But if you can work in something that makes you think, then that’s extra bonus points.”
— Wendy Maybury (’99)
Maybury likes to use her stories and characters to show real life and address important topics while making people laugh. Her main goal is for people to take away being kind to each other despite our differences.
“The number one thing comedy should make you do is laugh, end of story,” Maybury said. “But if you can work in something that makes you think, then that’s extra bonus points.”
Although her standup has been successful, Maybury faces many challenges as a woman in the industry. There are many biases that she must overcome, including people who don’t think women can be funny. She also has to balance her comedy career with raising a child. When traveling for gigs, she has to consider if the opportunity is worth the time away.
Despite all of the challenges, Maybury continues to thrive as a comedian. Once COVID-19 relents and it’s safe to have live audiences again, Maybury plans to record a second album with Stand Up! Records. While it was a career she never saw coming, Maybury is grateful and plans to continue with standup. She encourages anyone who has a passion for something to go out and do it, even if you have no idea what you’re doing,
“People told me all the time that I should do stand-up comedy, but I never did because I had this dumb idea that ‘Oh, you studied to be something. That’s what you’re allowed to be,’” Maybury said. “I was kind of waiting, I think, in some way, for people to give me a permission slip to be who I really was, and that never really comes. You have to decide to just embrace who you are and go towards that.”