Evidently, being a successful musician wasn’t quite enough for Erin Harkes.
A Middleburgh native who has lived in and around Albany most of her life, Harkes is leaving her guitar and her singing voice behind - at least some of the time - and has taken on another role, that of standup comedian.
She’s actually been going back and forth between musician and comedian for nearly four years now, but Thursday night at 7:30 at the Albany Funny Bone, it will all be about laughs for a good cause. Harkes will headline “Chicks for Charity,” a fundraiser for Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood.
Kathy Gauthier will be the host, while joining Harkes on stage will be fellow comics Dre Cerbin, Dee Watson and Jennifer McMullen.
A singer/songwriter, Harkes and her band, the Rebound, were one of the Capital Region’s top blues-rock groups throughout the first decade of the 21st century. In 2011, she changed the name of her group to the Erin Harkes Band. She has performed on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” and in 2011 opened for 10,000 Maniacs at Albany’s Alive at Five.
Q: Why did you get into comedy?
A: Well, I just couldn’t help myself. It was something I was always curious about and had wanted to try. One night a friend of mine had an open mic night. It was like a perfect storm. My friend was in charge, I was there, I finally got the nerve, so I did it. I thought I’d do it once and get it out of my system. But it was an amazing experience. I realized I wanted to do it again, many times.
Q: Would you ever combined those two aspects of performing, music and comedy, into the same act?
A: I keep them very separate. A lot of people say to me, ‘why don’t you do some musical comedy.’ But unless it happens organically I’m not going to do it. I don’t want to force it.
Q: What does your stand-up routine consist of?
A: I talk about relationships, I talk about every-day life things. I may discuss body issues, I may talk about sobriety. That makes its way into a lot of my jokes. I’ve been sober six years now, and I talk about it because while I’m performing I’m in an environment where alcohol is very prevalent. I talk about surviving something and I try to make it funny. I get a lot of people who come up to me after the show and say, ‘thank you, I’m sober, too.’ It’s an awesome feeling.
Q: Who’s your favorite comedian?
A: It was probably Joan Rivers, and one of my great regrets is that I never got to see her live. I was supposed to go see her, but I missed it and a few weeks later she passed away.
Q: Do you tend to get political at all in your performances?
A: I wouldn’t call myself an activist, but I wish I was. I would just never claim to be one. But when the cause is just and right, especially at times like this, I’m glad I can use my good fortune and talent to raise money for something that I think is really important like Planned Parenthood. When I perform, though, I don’t get political. I try to keep things light and fun.
‘Chicks for Charity’
WHAT: A benefit for Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood
WHERE: Albany Funny Bone, 1 Crossgates Road, Albany
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday
HOW MUCH: $15
MORE INFO: www.albanyfunnybone.com, 313-7484