Image by Mindy Tucker
Mindy Raf can easily kill in a room. That’s comedy speak for making people laugh and bringing audiences joy at open mics and comedy festivals across the country. This accomplished Brooklyn-based performer exudes a warmth, positivity, and optimism that are not entirely characteristics of a comedy industry known for churning out the likes of Louis CK and Lisa Lampenelli. Maybe this is due to Raf’s quirky and charming world view, transforming so many of the common foibles women face into experiences that not only make us laugh, but remind us that we share more similarities than differences. A triple threat-performer, musician, and writer-Raf recently released her incredibly witty and smart YA fictional novel The Symptoms of My Insanity, a book about a young girl named Izzy encountering the insanities of bizarre best friend behavior, dating disasters, and family mishaps, or, you know, what we call life.
If you could describe yourself in three words, what would those words be?
Curious, Intuitive, Silly
Tell us about a girl in your life who rocks.
My girlfriend. She’s very positive, especially in the way she views other people. She starts them at, like, 150%, on a really hard level. She’s passionate and a really hard worker.
What are your dreams/goals/ambitions?
Right now my dreams, goals, and ambitions are pretty simple: trying to stay present, to stay in the moment, and to do things that bring me joy as opposed to stress. I’m in a “small picture” mode right now. I just want to continue to be involved in things that bring me and others joy and to say as stress free as possible.
What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud that I’m still doing what I love to do. We all go through times when we question what we do, but I’m proud that I have kept performing, kept writing, and finished a body of work that I’m really proud of with the Symptoms of My Insanity, and that I continue to do it.
What piece of advice changed your life?
Two little sentences, but are actually big ideas: “It’s not about you” and “You can only focus on what you can control.” When you spend a lot of time on stage (especially performing comedy) with people watching you, it becomes easy to think you’re responsible for someone else’s happiness offstage as well. I try and take myself out of that a lot and focus on what I can do, not focus on what other people are doing. That’s a waste of my energy.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I used to have five-year plans, but they were very broad like “Get a bedroom in New York with a window.” But now, I just hope to see myself happy, and on a beach….dancing.
What is the number one item on your bucket list?
I don’t have a bucket list really, but I would like to live in another country and learn another language. It would be cool to life somewhere else, get out of my comfort zone, and immerse myself in a whole other culture.
Who has been the biggest female influence in your life and why?
My mom. She was very silly, but also very kind. She put everyone at ease; she had an infectious energy and was super selfless, always making other people happy. Even growing up and taking care of a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old, I never heard her complain. She brought a nice kind of magic to even the most mundane situations, making them fun and that was a very big influence on me.
What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken and what did you learn from it?
I recently quit my day job and even though I don’t have that structure, it’s been really nice. I’m definitely learning how to manage my time and also finding out that my energies and goals doing creative work are not the same when I first came to the city and started working. I’m not the same person, so it’s been eye-opening in a good way.
Why are you THAT GIRL?
I support women and men and want you to know I love you and think you are smart, beautiful, and talented even if you don’t know it yet. I want women and men to rock it and find their joy; there’s room for everyone. I’m THAT GUY or THAT GIRL and want others to be too and hopefully I can help with that.
*Interview conducted and compiled by Sheila Moeschen, IATG Senior Editor