Sara Schaefer: From Muppets to a Darker America

Sara Schaefer is headlining Corvallis’s first Comedy Night at the Majestic. Coming off a recent stint at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where she performed every night for month, Schaefer is excited to perform for a Corvallis audience.

Schaefer has been touring extensively, which includes gigs in Portland, Eugene, and Salem, so it’s only fitting she saved the best Oregon town for last.

“So what I will say is that I’m at peak level of skill right now,” Schaefer told me over the phone, “a lot of my material is very new, from the last six months. I’m very proud of it.”

“I’m tackling some issues of where we’re at as a culture,” Schaefer elaborated, “I’m talking about the undercurrent of what it’s like to be American right now… in a pretty silly way. I do dive into some darker and deeper issues, which I’m proud of figuring out how to talk about.”

When I asked Schaefer about the comedians she’s looked up to while building her career, she started naming a few, but then she stopped and told me, “I hate this question because I always name the wrong people and am like ‘No, I didn’t want to name that person, I wanted to name this person.’” 

I tried a slightly different tack and asked who her favorite Muppet was. 

Schaefer replied without hesitation, “Well, Kermit.”

The Muppets had already come up earlier as one of the many shows, like SNL, Monty Python, and The State, Schaefer was drawn to when she was younger.

“I was obsessed with the Muppets. I thought they were so funny. I had a couple Muppets’ specials that I would watch over and over again.”

Elaborating on her choice of Kermit, Schaefer said, “The dynamic between him and Miss Piggy was probably my favorite thing. But I also really loved Janice.” 

I drew a blank on who exactly Janice was, but Schaefer explained to me that she was the girl in the band with the long blond hair. Schaefer remembers her having some really good bits.

Schaefer has liked being silly for people since she was a child. During elementary school, she loved listening to her brother’s Andrew Dice Clay and Eddie Murphy albums, even though she probably wasn’t supposed to. 

Later on, she got into Rosie O’Donnell on VH1’s Stand-Up Spotlight and Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Comedy Central was Schaefer’s favorite station as soon as it came out.

While attending college in Virginia, Schaefer joined a sketch group. She had never considered comedy a serious option until she “screwed around” in New Orleans for a year. But in 2001, she moved to New York City where she started making it a career. That was also the year she saw her first live stand-up performance.

When she got to New York, the alt-comedy scene at Luna Lounge drew Schaefer in. Marc Maron, Janeane Garofalo, David Cross, and others were regular performers at the club, inspiring Schaefer to do whatever she could to get on stage.

At first, Schaefer didn’t just focus on telling jokes; she would perform songs, do Power Point presentations, or tell stories with videos, all with a comedic twist. Her main focus remained on telling stories, but she eventually opted for telling jokes.

Being a comedian isn’t the steadiest career path. But, not only does Schaefer enjoy all the different ways she is able to engage with people on a comedic level, her well-roundedness has helped her reach a comfortable level of stability.

Her credentials speak to that newly-found confidence, too.

She co-hosted Nikki and Sara Live with Nikki Glaser on MTV, has won two Emmy’s for her work on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, along with several appearances on shows like Inside Amy Schumer and John Oliver’s New York Stand Up Show. At Comedy Central she writes for Problematic with Moshe Kasher and an upcoming special with Ed Helms, The Fake News with Ted Nelms. 

Schaefer also has other projects in the works that she couldn’t tell me about just yet.

Schaefer’s website is http://saraschaefer.com. On Twitter, she is @saraschaefer1.

By Andy Hahn

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