When people suggested to Julie Kottakis that her standup routine was as much therapeutic for her as it was funny to them, she wasn't sure what to make of it.
"When I first started I was pretty personal and vulnerable," said Kottakis, a New York City-based comedian who will be headlining "Pretty Much the Best Comedy Show" Saturday night at 8 at Underground at Proctors. "Then people were saying I was using this as therapy, and after thinking about it, I said, 'yes, I am. Gosh, your right.'"
These days, Kottakis's routines can be every bit as educational as they are therapeutic and funny. Along with her standup act, she has a web series called "Madge the Vag," where, in comical fashion, she covers all kinds of feminine issues. Nothing seems to be off limits.
"A lot of what I do on my web series comes from stand-up," she said. "And while my family was pretty funny, both my mom and dad had quite the sense of humor, we were also a pretty weird and dysfunctional family. So I guess you deal with that by making jokes about it."
Kottakis was born in Greece and grew up in York, Pennsylvania. She was NYC's Most Incredible Comedian of 2012 at the Broadway Comedy Club, and it was about that time she took a break from comedy and became a single mom. She actually continued to tour for a some time while she was pregnant, and joked about having a child without a partner, beginning one of her routines with "I'm thinking about having a baby."
"More recently, I don't think I'm as personal as I was," she said. "But all of the things that have happened to me in my life were tools for me to deal with all the stuff that was going on. I still inject something of my personal life into my act, but now I realize what I'm doing. I'm more of a social worker now. That's what 'Madge the Vag' is all about."
Kottakis began doing stand-up during her second year of law school. She graduated from NYU Law in 2010 and continues to work as an attorney, but her young daughter and her comedy career come first. She says anyone with aspirations of being a stand-up comic should be practicing their trade in New York City, right now.
"The timing doesn't get any better, especially in New York City," said Kottakis, who calls herself a big fan of the HBO series "Crashing," about a young comic trying to make it in New York City. "You don't necessarily have to be just a club comic. You need to work in comedy clubs, but you also have so many other options. A lot of bars are starting their own comedy shows, and the internet is such a great tool. I made so many connections making these silly little videos with a few silly jokes, and that led to 'Madge the Vag' which led to more work."
Between her "Madge the Vag" videos and all the work she's getting around New York City, Kottakis hasn't had to travel too much recently.
"It's great that I get to stick pretty close to home for now," she said. "I've been to Albany, I'll do shows in Syracuse and Massachusetts. Schenectady and Proctors will be a new adventure for me."
Kottakis said she grew up liking a number of comics, including Maria Bamford, who also used a lot of personal experience in her routine.
"She was my absolute favorite," said Kottakis. "But I grew up watching Saturday Night Live and I liked Eddie Murphy and all the other big names on the show. I was also a Carol Burnett fan, but Maria Bamford was someone who I really felt was speaking to me."
Kottakis says she's still single, but does have a boyfriend.
"I do have a boyfriend at the moment, and he does get into my act a little bit now and then," she said. "He knows the drill and he knows how to deal with it."
While she loves doing stand-up and her videos, she does hope to be writing more material in the future.
"I'm doing more on the performing end right now and I do enjoy that," she said. "But I also want to do more writing, and I really want to tap into that, either with some films or something digital. I want to tap into all the creative outlets that I can."
'Pretty Much the Best Comedy Show'
WHERE: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday
HOW MUCH: $20 at the door, $15 in advance.
MORE INFO: (418) 346-6204, www.proctors.org.