We had the good fortune of connecting with JULIA HLADKOWICZ and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi JULIA, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
When I first started in comedy I was very experimental. I would try different stuff all the time (most of it bad) but there was a sense of play. I was throwing things out there and seeing what stuck. It was a cringeworthy but also exciting time. I wasn’t afraid to fail because I had nothing to lose. As I started to bridge the gap between amateur and professional stand-up comedian, I felt like I had to be out every night. If I wasn’t performing on a show, I should be at a show. Every comic had to hustle and hustle hard and if you weren’t performing at least 5-6 times a week did you even really “want” it? My worth as a performer felt tied to how busy I was. My need to progress and reach the next level fuelled me. I feel like this kind of fire can be beneficial to someone in this industry but it can also leave you feeling hollow and burnt out. If all you do is go to comedy shows and hang out with comedians, what do you talk about on stage?
I had a lot of big dreams and goals in comedy. Due to a mixture of hard work, talent, luck and not being an asshole (depending on who you ask) I’ve been able to cross a lot of accomplishments off the old showbiz bucket list, but not everything. If you asked me at 20 what I’d be doing at 33, I would not picture my life as it is now. I wanted to have my own show. Be the star of a sitcom. Be in funny movies with my friends. I still want those things but I’ve been doing this long enough to realize that so much in this industry is out of your control.
I work hard but I take the time to appreciate what I have so I don’t let moments pass me by. My work and my worth are still closer than I’d care to admit but it’s something I’m aware of. I can be happy if I book a role but it also doesn’t mean that I’m a piece of shit if I don’t. As I get older I have to remind myself to create with a sense of curiosity and wonder instead of “oh god will people like this or will they tell me I’m an unfunny bitch online?!” I’m tired of trying to please other people.
That’s why balance is so important. I used to be scared to take vacations because I didn’t want to miss opportunities. I have since learned that a change of scenery or perspective is often what creates opportunities. The pandemic has also put things into perspective. It made me realize how much I love performing live and how often I took it for granted. It also showed me that I am still capable of being a creatively fulfilled human without the stage. Whatever demons I’m fighting will not be solved with booking a comedy special or TV show. (I mean…it’s wouldn’t hurt…)
I’m trying to be happy with where I’m at instead of saying “when I have (insert cool career thing here), my life will be perfect”. I’m constantly working on new jokes, scripts, videos etc. but I’ve taken the pressure off a bit. I’m trying to appreciate the quiet moments because I know there will be a day when I’m so busy with work I’ll think “I WISH I COULD JUST LAY IN A HAMMOCK AND READ A DAMN BOOK!” And that moment is now.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m proud that I’m still doing this damn thing! I’m proud that I’ve had the opportunity to perform at the biggest comedy festivals in the world, work with great actors and comedians and meet some of my best friends along the way. The life of a comedian and actor is a life of constant rejection and uncertainty but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Of course it wasn’t easy. Of course there were challenges. Like anything in life, you just keep going. Respect yourself and your worth but be ready to check your ego. This has been my dream since I was a kid. I went to an arts high school for Drama. I’ve been doing stand-up for 14 years. I feel like I know everything and nothing at all. I guess I want people to know that my “brand” of stand-up comedy is silly, high energy and sometimes I talk about shit. (People need to get over comedians who swear. Just because you don’t curse doesn’t mean you’re a good person.) You might not like me, and that’s ok. I might not like you either! I enjoy making dumb videos with my husband/comedian, Matt O’Brien and I think someone should hire me to play their quirky best friend in a rom-com already. Please.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We would go to the beach and then get lunch at the Reel Inn in Malibu. We’d go Boardners in Hollywood for happy hour. The drinks are cheap and the bartenders are nice. We’d go to Dave and Busters and play skee-ball and drink shitty draft beer. One night we’d get all dressed up and go to the Magic Castle. We’d get al pastor tacos at a taco truck. We’d go to the hollywood roosevelt and flop around the pool while drinking overpriced cocktails. Maybe we’d see Ron Jeremy asleep at the bar and say “let’s get out of here.” We’d go to the hollywood farmers market and buy funky pickles and flowers. Griffith observatory! Mama shelter rooftop patio! THE GROVE?!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband/comedian Matt O’Brien and my good friend/writer/comedian Christina Walkinshaw!
Cate Hellman (all photos except the one of me on stage performing) Matt Missisco (Stage photo)