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Scoring Laughs as a Stand-Up Comic

Women's History Month

03-21-2014


Christina Pazsitzky '99 has them rolling in the aisle.

USF women are leading and succeeding in diverse industries, including many that remain dominated by men. Here, in honor of Women’s History Month, we present a series of profiles of exceptional, inspirational women who are making their mark in fields from computer science to stand-up comedy.

Christina Pazsitzky ’99 is a headliner in the male-dominated world of stand-up comedy.

Pazsitzky packs comedy clubs with her honest, brave, and, at times, self-deprecating humor. She’s performed in every state, in Europe, and in Asia, as well as for U.S. military troops in Afghanistan. 

Center stage

She’s one of a rising number of female comedians who have overcome some formidable obstacles to get to center stage.

“It’s still taboo for us broads to have opinions,” she says. “There’s absolutely a societal bias against women being perceived as funny.”

There’s also the dingy motels, bad food, and tough crowds. Pazsitzky once had a beer bottle thrown at her head. “You have to live hard for many, many years to get to where I am,” she says. “It can be really dangerous, and a lot of women don’t want to do that—for right reasons.”

Making it look easy

But she absolutely loves it. 

“It’s still a thrill to see my name on a marquee,” says Pazsitzky, who studied philosophy at USF. “And it’s still a thrill to make people laugh. It’s better than anything else.” 

Writing jokes that score laughs might look easy when you’re watching a performance but is actually incredibly hard, she says. Pazsitzky’s been at it for more than a decade. In the early days, she juggled day jobs like washing dogs and working in a cannery with open-mic nights in Los Angeles, where she lives. She spent years writing, rewriting, and performing all over the U.S. and also wrote for popular late night talk show “Chelsea Lately.”

Convince the audience 

Her current one-hour stand-up act is personal and political, and everything is fair game—from her Hungarian immigrant parents and her marriage to comedian Tom Segura, with whom she co-hosts the popular podcast Your Mom’s House, to racism and sexism. 

“It’s like philosophy in some ways,” she says of writing stand-up. “You’ve got your premise. You’ve got your theories on the world, and then you’re convincing people of your arguments. It’s an intellectual game.” 

'He taught me how to think'

In fact, if she weren’t a comedian, she’d want to be a philosopher, like her mentor, the late Bob Makus, a former professor of philosophy at USF. Makus encouraged her to pursue creative work, and she feels indebted to him for what she’s accomplished. 

“He taught me how to think,” Pazsitzky says. “If you can read and use your mind, you can do anything, and that’s what I learned studying philosophy. And I think that’s the secret to having a good career and a good life emotionally and spiritually.”

Written by Monica Villavicencio »email usfnews@usfca.edu | Twitter @usfcanews