By Campbell Morin
Boston University News Service
The first time Avery Lender stood on a stage at Gotham Comedy Club, she named her hair Ashley, then roasted a bald man and recounted an incident with AXE body spray during a bar mitzvah. She was 11 years old. A year later, children’s author Kate Dopirak asked to write a book about her.
Now 21, Lender has been performing comedy for 10 years at comedy clubs across Boston and New York City, and is currently the president of Boston University’s stand-up comedy club. The children’s book written about her, “Made You Laugh: Stand Up Comedy for Kids” is used across the United States to test reading levels in upper elementary and middle school.
“I was always going to do this. My parents watched so much cartoon comedy when I was in the womb, and I really started to love comedy in third grade,” said Lender. “I just feel like this was always the path I was going down and I really love it.”
For the past three summers, while leading the charge of recruiting women into the comedy world at BU, she has been working at the West Side Comedy Club in New York City that has hosted famous comics such as Bill Burrows and John Oliver.
She started at West Side Comedy Club working the door and slowly worked her way to running the social media platforms, planning shows, and eventually hosting her own shows. Her second show, which she performed with a fellow college comic, sold out.
Growing up in the comedy scene wasn’t just book offers and snatched-up shows, however. Lender had to battle through the stigma and, in her own words, networked her “ass off” to gain a footing in the competitive world of comedy.
“There is so much sexism in comedy. The idea that women aren’t funny is still really ingrained in people’s minds, and when you have an audience of a lot of men, they are going in with the preconceived notion of, ‘oh, it’s just another woman comic who is just going to talk about her sex life,’” said Lender.
Though Lender does talk about her sex life in her shows, she adds feminist flares to her bits, and writes an “Ask Avery” column with Gold Comedy, a comedy group for women. When planning shows, she also tries to schedule more female comics than male comics.
“Being a woman in comedy is really hard. I feel like growing up in the comedy scene, it really did raise me; I got so used to being around men all of the time and having to just deal with hearing sexist jokes all of the time,” said Lender. “Things I may have let slide when I was younger, I don’t let slide now.”