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  WINDY CITY TIMES

In the Life: Rebecca O'Neal
by Nina Matti
2016-09-14

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When Rebecca O'Neal first decided to dip her toes in the stand up comedy pool, she did so very slowly. The first show she ever did, "I remember being really nervous. ... It was at an open mic night that went until like 2 a.m., so I went up probably around midnight," she said. "I was hoping no one would really be paying attention. I remember having practiced all my jokes in the mirror. I just wanted to get it over with."

It was a success though, and she was hooked instantly. O'Neal performed every night for the rest of that week. Since then, O'Neal still hasn't stopped making people laugh. She performs weekly and hosts open mic nights at Laugh Factory, produces "Congrats on Your Success" and coproduces Guest List Comedy shows. She also cohosts the very open mic night that she first performed at Cole's Bar.

A self-identified pansexual hedonist, O'Neal found her calling to comedy through Twitter and has since used her stand up to be open about her identity and entire life. "I just want to distinguish myself," she said. "There aren't a lot of black, queer women up on stage telling the kind of jokes that I tell anyway. My goal is to never say anything problematic; I always want to be on the right side of an argument. But I also don't want to dumb myself down. That's something I've been thinking about a lot lately."

She has since used that voice at shows like Chigaygo at Laugh Factory, Queer Comedy at Zanies Comedy Club and the Ohio Lesbian Comedy Festival, and has opened for Maria Bamford and Cameron Esposito. "I'm most involved in the [LGBTQ] scene as a performer and through comedy," O'Neal said. "Just by being a performer that openly identifies as queer, and even when I'm not in those shows I'm just really open about my life and sleeping with women is a part of that."

THE STATS

-Age: 29

-Hobbies: Going to comedy shows with friends, going on dates

-Comedic inspiration: Her daily life

-Motto: "We must always work, and a self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood."

-Favorite artist: Rihanna

-Three words to describe yourself: "Ambitious, talkative and enthusiastic"

-Favorite childhood memory: Every weekend her family would drive in her dad's '62 Malibu to Rainbow Cone and load up on ice cream.

-Little-known fact: Between the ages of 19 and 23, O'Neal worked a party promoter for rappers and went by the name "Becca the Promo Mami."


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