Inspired by their interest in connecting the worlds of comedy and spirituality, Sara Armour and Jessica Brodkin created “The Moonual,” a show which uses humor to explore the lunar cycle and the process of releasing the past. Hosts Sara and Jessica will take the stage at Carolines along with several guest comedians this Wednesday June 22 at 7:30. In this interview, Sara and Jessica discuss their strong bond, unique occupations, and the magic of the moon. They share exciting details about “The Moonual,” compliment each other constantly, and take lots of breaks to laugh for at least 30 seconds straight.
Carolines on Broadway: Sara, you’re a life coach, and Jessica, you’re an energy healer. Of course, you’re also both stand-up comediennes. Before this exciting Moonual project, did your two professions ever overlap?
Sara Armour: Our two professions as in our life coaching and energy healing? Well, we definitely share clients. We have a few clients who I coach and Jessica will do healings on.
Jessica Brodkin: Yes, which is great.
SA: It’s definitely two very different services, and we’ve also traded. So, Jessica will do healings on me and I will try to coach her. We actually get a lot of out of it. And the way that I think it really overlaps the best, is that when we get together—because we’re kind of speaking in the same vernacular—we can really help each other write jokes about the ridiculousness of all of this. So, actually all three things overlap, and we’ve been working together and helping each other through this.
JB: For six or seven years. We’ve been friends since before either one of us did stand-up, before either [Sara was a life coach] or [I was] an energy healer.
COB: How did you find each other?
SA: Improv comedy, Washington, D.C. I think Jessica came up to me after a show, and hugged me—I didn’t know her—and she was like, “We’re going to be friends.” [Jessica was] in a three-person comedy group, and I had just started, and [she] attacked me. Yeah, I remember it being very “Oh my god.” [Jessica was] like, “You’re my sister.” And I was like, “Okay.” I had just moved to D.C., and I didn’t really have any friends. And so we became friends pretty immediately, and started making comedy videos together.
JB: Sara, in addition to all of her other brilliant talents, is also a really good director.
SA: Aw, thanks.
JB: She has visions, and she really implements them. She knows how to spot talent, and how to mold it into a vision, I think.
SA: Well, [Jessica] [is] just easy. [Jessica] just had so much going on—and I just knew—I said, “Here’s how we can use you.” And I was happy to give [her] a platform, because [she] really made me laugh.
COB: What about your daytime careers and comedy – do they overlap at all?
JB: I make a lot of people laugh during sessions, and a lot of my clients are creative types. Actually, I think [Sara’s] clients are, too.
SA: Yes, most of my clients are creatives or aspiring creatives in some way. I think that humor plays a really big part in what both of us do, because essentially when people are hiring a coach or a healer, everyone is just looking to feel better. My clients are looking to find tools to have a nice life, or have the life of their dreams, or move forward on whatever projects they’re stuck on. I think that, for my clients, humor really lightens everything up. Anything that feels really stuck or really heavy, if you can shine some light on it and joke, it sort of creates space and gives you some wiggle room to then all of the sudden see more possibilities, or see more ways to move forward —just a new perspective. I think with healings, too, I know I’ve been healed by Jessica and a lot of it—I mean, reiki is ridiculous. It’s really bizarre. I totally believe, and I totally love the service, but it’s “LOL.”
JB: I can’t describe it. You have to experience it, because even the way I do it is not normal.
SA: No, Jessica does everything very unorthodoxly. You have to really trust her, and part of the way she makes you comfortable to trust her is that she makes you laugh. I think the beautiful thing about humor is that when you share a laugh with someone, you’re on the same page. It means there’s a common understanding. If someone can make you laugh, they get you. I think humor just gives people a sense of comfort, and a sense of, “Okay, I trust this person. They’re smart enough, and they get me enough to make me laugh. So, I’m going to let them play with my energy field.” Or, “I’m going to let them put a feather on my head and make it mean something.”
JB: For me, my clients are my biggest fans. They really love coming to shows, and they’re very excited about the Moonual. I support them creatively, and they support me creatively. Also, one of the people [performing at] the Moonual, Amy Stiller, is my client, she and her father are my clients.
SA: And actually my astrologer, Kristy Belich who lives in her car, is my client. We traded. She does my astrology readings and I give her coaching.
JB: And I wanted to give Amy, who is super funny, a platform to do comedy. Amy really gets it because she is both spiritual and a comic. It really is funny to have somebody who gets both worlds. I think the Moonual is the ultimate merging of the two worlds, which have not been merged before. The articles that have been published [about us], it was a full coming out.
SA: Jessica has sort of been in hiding. I didn’t even realize that. We went to do an interview last week, and when I posted it, a lot of people from Jessica’s world were just like, “What? What is this?”
JB: I’m very busy, I have a lot of clients, so I don’t need to put myself super out there in order to get more work. I’m getting a lot of work, but it’s a real force coming out to merge the two worlds.
SA: I think it’s really necessary.
JB: So necessary.
SA: For me, something that I’ve been struggling with for the past four years is: Am I coach, or am I a comedian? I think in the comedy world there’s this idea that if you’re a comedian, that’s what you do, and anything else is just to pay the bills. I really love to coach, and I love to do comedy. It’s been a real struggle to integrate them. On the one hand, I’m a serious coach. On the other hand, I want to make fun of it. On the one hand, I’m a serious comedian. On the other hand, I do need to pay my bills, and I need something until I become a household name. I need something to ground me. I think the Moonual for both of us is a really healthy way to integrate our two worlds, and I think that’s also what we’re helping our clients do. It’s a real struggle in this life to feel like you have multiple identities that don’t actually fit together. I think for the first time, for both of us, we can come to terms with all of ourselves and be honest, and just integrate everything we do in a funny, healing way, and do it together. It’s just more fun together.
JB: Absolutely, and the other thing about Sara is – I mean, we’ve been friends for a long time – and I think that Sara is inherently a life coach. She’s inherently helpful to other people, and whether you call it a life coach or just an amazing friend, Sara is always going to be doing it. She gives amazing advice in terms of how to live life and be a better human. And for me, I love healing people. It is incredibly rewarding to change someone’s life.
SA: It’s the same for Jessica. She is a natural. Before she even started having an energy healing practice, or studying it, or training at all, Jessica was just the friend you’d call when you’d want to have a conversation with someone who is not going to judge you, who is going to hold your hand and make you feel better, and let you cry, and not shame you at all for it. Jessica has been through so much. She’s young—she’s almost 35—but she’s got a track record of a 70-year-old.
JB: My father said I’ve lived three lives in this life already.
SA: She’s really great, she’s a natural healer.
JB: In terms of integrating our healer/life coaching lives, [it’s] a struggle for everyone to accept themselves. All people have this issue, just as human beings, to accept who they are, where they are, to be honest with themselves and with other people about the truth. We are kind of accidental spiritual leaders to people. So, this is an example where we’re really walking the walk. We’re integrating ourselves, we are being honest with ourselves, and with our clients, and with the world. We’re sharing what it is that we are. It’s so freeing for anybody to be, like, “Hey, this is who I am.” We’re really in an era of this. Right? People are polyamorous, people are everything, there’s a trans movement, people are really coming to terms with being who they are, no matter what it is, and that’s just a beautiful thing. This is an opportunity for us to do that, and to allow others to do that. Also, the moon ritual is really an ancient ritual that people have been doing.
SA: There are so many versions of it, and so many different approaches, and I think what’s really fun about our Moonual, is that it came about naturally. Jessica and I started noticing that any time we would meet up and vent, we would say, “Oh my god! It’s a full moon, and we didn’t even realize.” Kristy, my astrologer, told me to start noticing the moon. When I started noticing the moon and doing moon journaling, it turned out that for months, every time Jessica and I found ourselves together, crying and laughing about something, creating our own ways to let go, burning papers, using the energy of the moon in whatever way we would, [it was a full moon]. I mean, you don’t have to do a moon ritual, you don’t have to honor the moon, everyone has different ways to let go across their lives. But the moon for us was just a really natural milestone that we hit every month organically, and so we’ve always wanted to collaborate on something. We write jokes together, but when we thought of this idea, it seemed like something our clients would really enjoy. We just thought this would be it, and see if we can share this with everybody, share this with the world.
COB: Moon rituals are not without their skeptics. Do you see a line between the sincere and the funny?
SA: Yeah, I think that with anything spiritual, anything ritualistic, or anything that promises that there is a transformation possible, skepticism is normal. I think that the reason that the moon is something we are both attracted to is because this isn’t general spirituality. This isn’t tarot cards that human beings created and now we’re using to have the angels channel through us. There’s no crystal ball—we’ll probably have crystals for fun. Whether or not you’re spiritual, or whether or not you feel connected to god, or a source, or energy, or the universe, or whatever, the moon is on a 28-day cycle, which is natural and normal. Every human being on earth has the opportunity to see the moon, experience the moon and its cycles. Before there were clocks, people were using the moon to track time. This isn’t hippy-dippy, New Age spirituality. It’s science. We’re part of a solar system. We’re not saying, “Oh, come to this ritual we invented where we’re using human-created things to access energy.”
JB: We’re not.
SA: We’re actually using the most natural pillar of life that exists on the planet.
JB: Right, and also all of the ancient calendars – the Chinese calendar, the Jewish calendar, and a lot of civilizations – they use the moon. The Chinese New Year is on the new moon in February. That’s not an accident. Yom Kippur is on the equinox.
SA: Even women are on a 28-day cycle, and so is the moon. I would be really curious to see how many people are on their period during the full moon. The uterus is mimicking the moon cycle. There’s no denying it. There are some things I really get about spirituality that a skeptic could lay their teeth into, and say “This is stupid.” A moon ritual is about as natural and as feminine as it gets.
COB: The Moonual features an all-female lineup, and finds it roots in mother nature and her lunar cycle. Do you think that feminism plays a role in your comedy?
JB: Mmm, great question.
SA: Well, Jessica and I have had this conversation a lot. The big conversation that’s happening now is if it’s hard to be a female comic, or what it’s like to be a feminist comic. I think for both of us, it’s not like we wake up in the morning and think, “I’m a woman and I’m a comedian.” I wake up in the morning, and I’m Sara. Jessica wakes up in the morning, and she’s Jessica. I think inherently we’re feminist comics because we are women and we love ourselves, but this is not about feminism as much as it is about celebrating a beautiful, natural process that happens to also help us access our inner divine feminine. The lineup is all-female, but there will be men in the show, there will be men singing to us. That’s a very important part of my life on a regular basis. Men are welcome in the audience. I think that’s one of the most important things about anything feminist that’s promoting all women. This is for women, but men are welcome. This is a human being show. Men are on cycles, too. The moon affects everyone. My dad used to say growing up, it’s probably from a movie, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” We all have to be tuned into our cycles. We all affect each other. Yes, [the Moonual] celebrates the divine feminine, it celebrates the cycle, but it’s not exclusive.
JB: [Sara], didn’t you learn about the Moonual from your ex-boyfriend?
SA: Yeah, I became aware of moon rituals because my ex-boyfriend’s mother was a biologist, and we would go and watch the moon rise on the beach. She taught me a lot about finding god in nature, and that god is not necessarily a religious thing. In nature there is god, there is universe, there is energy that is undeniable and accessible to all human beings. I think that’s really more important than feminism, just natural connection. Yes, in our version of natural connection the woman is the beacon of light.
JB: The divine mother.
SA: Does it play into our comedy? I mean, we’re women, so as women we are telling jokes about ourselves and our lives.
JB: How do we separate feminism from ourselves?
SA: We’re women, business owners, who are comedians, who are bearing our souls on a pretty regular basis.
JB: Comedy is a very masculine space, in general.
SA: I would say so.
JB: But I don’t think about it.
SA: I don’t think about it either.
JB: I never think about it. I just go out there and I’m like, “Be funny, be honest, be yourself, connect with the crowd, love them, love myself, create a space of love and hilarity.” That’s how I think about comedy. I don’t think, “I’m a woman, how do I empower women?” You empower women by being successful. Every successful woman makes it easier for other women to be successful.
SA: And I also think you empower women by being really open. This is an event that’s geared towards women, but it’s not exclusive. Allowing men to celebrate the moon, and allowing men to sing to us, and be a part of the conversation as well is important. It’s not a girl’s club, it’s a human club.
JB: I agree. On our own with comedy, we empower women. If you talk about your pain as a woman, doesn’t that connect with people?
SA: I think just by being vulnerable, and opening up, and allowing people to see you.
JB: Talk about divorce, depression.
SA: Right. Talk about divorce, depression, periods, heartbreak, our struggles. I think the most healing part of comedy is allowing people to be honest because you’re being honest.
COB: Jessica, as a former CIA analyst, have you “released your past” with this comedy career?
SA: Jessica, have you released your CIA past?
JB: Well, I don’t associate with them in any way. I still have nightmares about them. So, no.
SA: Perhaps this Moonual will allow her to finally release some of the trauma.
JB: The trauma of working there.
SA: Picture Carrie Mathison at a Moonual. She might be funny, and might have to let some stuff go.
JB: So, have I released my past? As much as I could. I’m still working on it. That’s the honest answer.
COB: Sara, what it’s like to be a “betch” of comedy?
SA: Truthfully, the Betched [of Comedy] are a total inspiration to me. I’m very grateful that they’ve given me so many amazing opportunities to perform in front of such large audiences. The betches themselves are these three power women authors, badass, take no bullshit, strong, entrepreneurial women. So, I’m inspired by them and I’m constantly trying to collaborate with them and keep up. They’re really badass girls.
COB: Jessica, you call yourself a “nugget woman” on your twitter. Please explain.
JB: I need to fix my twitter handle, thanks for reminding me.
SA: No, I love it.
JB: You do? That was my nickname. I’m short, I’m 5’2”.
SA: She does kind of look like a chicken nugget—from McDonalds.
JB: Misshapen, and slightly fried.
SA: Yeah, fried. You don’t know what’s in it, but it’s really good.
JB: Maybe we can release that.
SA: Maybe we can change it on stage during the ritual.
COB: Can you give a little preview of what to expect? Will Carolines’ atmosphere be transformed at all for the show?
SA: I think Carolines is already an extremely magical place, but we’re going to try to up the magic factor a little bit. We’re going to try to create a slightly more zen, sparkly ambiance. Again, there will be men singing, we will be doing drumming, we’ll be doing group meditation.
JB: There will be a group release.
SA: A release that happens at the end, and we can all laugh at ourselves and participate in it. Now, this is not to say that you should be afraid to come. We will not put anyone of the spot, we’re not going to embarrass anyone, but there will be a group release.
JB: We have videos, an astrology report.
SA: We’re hoping that people really enjoy a night out with their friends the way that we’ve enjoyed the full moons together, and done these sorts of rituals. We’ve laughed, and cried, and sang, and meditated, and released together for so long that we’re just really excited to invite people into our personal practices. It’s really fun.
JB: It’s just really a different experience.
SA: I don’t know where else this exists.
JB: I don’t think this exists anywhere else.
SA: I mean, you can go to a real full moon ritual, and I highly recommend them and I love them. But everyone there takes themselves really seriously, and I think that’s the whole thing. The comic side of me doesn’t fully enjoy all of the spiritual stuff, and the life coach, spiritual side of me feels guilty for the comedy part, the part of me that’s a cynic, the part of me that can make fun of it all. I think for us, this is a way to bridge them—this is a spiritual show for the cynics. You can come as spiritual or as closed off as you want, and you will enjoy yourself, and you will leave feeling better. That’s the one thing we can absolutely promise you.
JB: And it will be fun.
SA: We will surprise you every step of the way. Our guests are amazing. The comics in the show are amazing. Amy Stiller, from Inside Amy Schumer, daughter of the Stillers, and Ben Stiller’s sister. I cannot wait to see what she has to share. Jacqueline Novak, who’s one of the hottest comics on the rise. She just wrote a beautiful book, How to Weep in Public, about depression. We can only hope there are a ton of depressed women there! They can really enjoy normalizing the experience of depression. And there’s a whole bunch of other people who will be delightful.
JB: Jasmine Pierce.
SA: Jasmine Pierce from Reductress. She’s an up-and-coming, fabulous writer. It’s a really unique mix of people. I think the other thing about this show that’s really cool and different is that not only is this very theatrical, but it’s going to be very story-based. Whereas Jessica and I usually go out—when I’m at Carolines—I’m very concerned about punchlines and laughs per minute, and everyone’s trying to get as many jokes out as possible. This is a much more story-based event. People are going to have a chance to really express themselves, really connect to the audience, and release.
JB: And really be honest.
SA: This is not about showmanship. It’s about the truth, and it’s about honesty. I think storytelling gives people an opportunity to go a little slower, and get a little more real than just going punchline to punchline.
COB: Just like a moon ritual, the Moonual is poised to be a recurring event at Carolines. How do you see it growing in the future?
SA: I think everything we do is always a work in progress. I think Jessica and I have done enough self-help work to really let go of perfection and trying to get it all perfect in the first swing. So, I think we’ll probably take this show and go through it, and evaluate what worked and what didn’t work. In the coaching world, when I do workshops, a lot of the time I’ll send out feedback forms: As an audience member, what worked for you? What would you like more of? What would you like less of? We really want this to be an event that serves the people. Hopefully, as this continues to grow, this can be a go-to event for people. It’s a ritual for us, and we hope it becomes a ritual for other people, and something you can plan on doing every month. It’s something you can actually use to not only be entertained, but to also track your own life cycle and your own journey. We have a few products that we’re working on, including a Moonual booklet. So, it’s actually going to be available at the shows. You have a guide that you can take home and work with every moon cycle with exercises that will make you laugh and also let go. We have a lot of people who may want to collaborate with us in the future. We’re definitely open and excited. If there’s anything that we’ve learned, it’s that if you try to invent it all before it happens, you miss out. For us, we’re really open. We’ll take what we learn from this, and then just go from there because there may be possibilities for elements of the show, or ways that we advertise, or potential partnerships that we haven’t even thought of yet. It’s all just practicing going one step at a time, and respecting our audience, respecting ourselves, respecting Carolines, and just seeing what we get. The other thing that’s exciting about this is that we’re going to live-stream the Moonual. So, for people who can’t attend, or people who are in other cities, we’re going to live-stream it on Facebook. It’s going to be something that people can enjoy from their couches. This is not to say you should not come to the show, please come to the show! It’s going to be better in person! We’re really excited to share it with the world, if this is something that people are interested in participating in.
JB: We’re planning on using a lot of various media forms. We’re going to be recording, doing audio. We’re using multimedia in a lot of different ways, trying to spread the word.
SA: For this show, we’re concerned about being accessible. I think this is a really great way for women and men—for people—to practice tuning in and letting go on a regular basis, in a way that doesn’t feel too hokey or overly spiritual. It’s not asking people to go too far out of their comfort zones. It’s actually in the zone of comedy. So, I think people will have a much easier time digesting it than going to a roof in Williamsburg and holding hands with strangers. That’s not what this is.
JB: I’ve done that.
SA: This is more appealing. Even though it will be wacky, and fun, and different, it’s a comedy show at its heart, which to us, is the greatest form of healing there is.
JB: Aw, that’s magical.
The Moonual: Full Moon Ritual Comedy Show debuts on Wednesday, June 22 at 8:00 pM. Purchase tickets here or call our Box Office at 212.757.4100 for reservations.