Every week, we talk to a standup comedian about their favorite childhood TV show. Up today is Lynn Bixenspan from New York City.
Lynn, how’d you get started in comedy?
I wasn’t allowed to stay up late to watch SNL, so my parents would recap it for me the next day. Plus, I grew up a weird sick kid with mystery illnesses and was in and out of school. That’s obviously hilarious. And I sang and did theater as a kid, but didn’t really think about doing comedy until I read an article about UCB. I took improv classes there about 12 years ago and then started doing solo stuff (storytelling, stand-up, Weirds) after taking a storytelling class with Kevin Allison from The State.
You’ve said that your childhood TV obsession in the Mickey Mouse Club. Now, I remember watching it, but I could not tell you a thing about it. Explain the show to me.
Cool pre-teens and teens sing, dance, do terrible sketches that I knew were terrible even at the time, and are generally cool. To 10-to-12-year-old singing dork Lynn, at least. Every day was themed: eg, Monday was Music Day, with Cool Guests like New Kids On The Block and Friday was Hall of Fame Day, where they honored teens doing boring good works in their community and stuff. I hated Hall of Fame Day. I wanted to be most of the girls and do sexy kisses to a more selective group of the boys.
I think we all wanted to be Sexy Kiss Girls. No? Just me?
Also, it’s now famous for being a launchpad for a lot of famous people, like Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Ryan Gosling, and Keri Russell. I only really watched when Keri was on, though, cause all those other Very Successful People are younger than I am. I had outgrown it by the time they were on it. Or we stopped getting Disney Channel? It’s complicated.
What about MMC spoke to you as a kid? Is it different that what speaks to you as an adult?
I desperately, desperately wanted to be a child star. I begged my mom to take me to the NYC mouseketeer auditions when they came around (I lived on Long Island.) She said no, because even if I got it, she didn’t want to pick up our lives and move, and who would support us financially? I said I would, and weirdly, she didn’t seem comfortable with that. I still give her shit for it, honestly.
She ruined my potential child star life this is unforgivable fire fire fire.
It’s more that I wanted to be a Mouseketeer specifically or a “Singer” than a child actor. I wanted to do cool songs and dances and be best friends with cool kids and then have all my friends back home get wildly jealous. But also have everyone talk abut how down to earth I still was.
Do you wish you’d been a child star? Wait. Were you? I feel like that would make a lot of sense.
This gratified me no end given the previous question but also made me a little sad. If I could go back in time, I would flagrantly disobey my mother and go the the auditions with my Cool Aunt and, obviously, become a Mouseketeer.
I was in the Nassau County junior talent show singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and also taught myself the entire first Mariah Carey album on my Casio, so, like, same thing?
You wrote erotic Mickey Mouse Club fan fiction, right? Why… why make this erotic?
I found my parents’ porn mags when I was in 2nd grade, so I had early exposure to these things. I also found my mom’s Norma Klein books from the library and copied them into a notebook (as you do) for the dirty parts. (Even then, I still felt the need to copy the entire book, for context.) Of course, in reality, I had never even kissed anyone when I wrote the me-as-Mouseketeer sex scene.
And, obviously, all the guys I had crushes on from the show were Super-into me. Even the one I wrote about losing my virginity to, Tony, wasn’t one I was particularly into in real life. He just seemed like a good dramatic choice. (In actuality, he was dating Keri Russell, but not sure I knew that at the time, pre-Internet.)
Do you write erotic fan fiction for any other shows or is it just this?
I only wrote this and it was a way for me to cope with the horrors of not being a child star.
In more recent comedy life, I used to do my friends’ show, Monday Night Fan Fiction. And I wrote some real-person fic for that, including John Mayer/Taylor Swift/Lena Dunham slash.
I imagine you have plans to one day have your own TV show. Will you want people to make erotic fan fiction from it, or will it already be as sexual as possible?
Obviously, I will have my own TV show. You know, I think I would appreciate people writing self-aware fan fiction about it, but if they were just uberfans in the teen way and sincerely writing fan fiction about it, I might be creeped out. It might be one of the few times sincerity loses.
I don’t think my show would be particularly sexual. I don’t know that my stand-up or storytelling is (not that there’s anything wrong with it [insert impassioned rant about The Patriarchy and how Amy Schumer is blah blah blah.) There would probably be singing on the show, or at least an accompanying album based on the show.
You run an excellent therapy show called Relationshit! out of NYC. Tell me about the show and some of the wildest stories you’ve heard.
Thank you! It’s a storytelling and live on-stage therapy show with real therapists. I co-host it with Morgan Pielli second Friday of the month at QED in Astoria at 9:30. People tell real-life stories about all kinds of relationships (friends, family, sweeties, cats). Then one brave person talks about an issue that’s still affecting their lives and gets advice from the panel of experts, which always includes at least one actual therapist. And me and Morgan, cause we are practically therapists.
Not sure I should retell other people’s stories, but DURING the show, we’ve actually had hecklers, which is insane (poor clinical choice of words) for a therapy show. One comic was getting advice about how his dad, who is a trans man and left when the comic was a teenager, affects his relationships now. A woman in the audience screamed out, “AT LEAST YOU HAVE TWO PARENTS!” Which…what? Then also I think something about the pyramids. And stormed out. It turned out she was there with a guy I had gone on one date with who seemed to have a lot of anger issues. When he told me about it, he apologized, but got defensive and said, “well, it’s not like I’m dating her!” Oh, OK.
As a comedy therapist, how do you diagnose this need to make Disney properties sexual?
I did go to psych grad school for a while, so I’m like, 72% therapist. I think it’s less Disney properties in general (like, I’m not making the plates fuck in Beauty and the Beast.) It’s very specific wish fulfillment—having awesome friends, being part of a group, singing. I just blended that with a compulsive productivity (391 notebook pages’ worth) that I really envy now. I miss that part of me that would just do something cause it felt FUN and necessary and everything wasn’t about a project or self-judgment.
There are scenes it in where I catch Keri Russell shooting up in the bathroom and tell everyone and it turns out she’s actually diabetic and I misjudged her. But the damage is done. I’ve gotten the group to ostracize a Super Hot, Cool Girl. (Ugh I’m so anti-feminist as a pre-teen.)
And scenes where boys are obsessed with me. And one where I make up a new dance craze (the Reverse Roger Rabbit). And go back to my hometown for an assembly and wow the whole schoo. So, yeah, very much wish fulfillment.
And also exposure to porn at a young age without proper context.
You have favorite episodes? Least favorite episodes?
I can think of segments more than episodes. Like I was in love with Chase here and wanted to duet with him and be DeeDee:
Or this cool Ghostbusters-themed Video Jam:
Least favorite were the lame comedy sketches, I guess. I felt like I was sitting through them to get to the hot jams.