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Tamale Sepp starts a new chapter
by Emagin Tanaschuk

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Internationally renowned comedian and interdisciplinary performer Tamale Sepp has relocated to the East Coast after serving up 16 years of comedy, performance art, burlesque and much more in Chicago.

For more than a decade and a half, Sepp entertained Chicagoans with her creative and original performances which included sketch comedy, belly dancing, burlesque and fire dancing. However, after moving on from her job and an amicable breakup, she fiercely decided to pick up and travel, starting in New York City to embark on a new adventure of self-exploration and bring her comedy and performances to the next level.

After about two months of traveling, Sepp said in a phone interview that moving is disorienting and hectic, but she wouldn't have it any other way; she is extremely hopeful and excited about what the future holds for her, both career-wise and personally.

"I just want to continue being the best version of myself as possible, prioritize fitness, take care of my body, and experiment with my skill sets in comedy and performing," she added.

Sepp is doing just that, working with a friend to get fit and participating in a eight-week-long workout program in hopes of challenging herself physically and mentally, as she thinks that her performances will be better if her body is stronger.

When asked to look back on her time in Chicago, Sepp could not recall a single moment when she had the privilege to get up on stage and make people laugh that stood out more than others. She described how comedy is at the very least entertainment but can also serve as a tool to shift societal norms.

"Comedy can be a harbinger of harmony—it gets people in their soft spots, where their guard is down. That is magic," she said.

She explained how comedy as an art form brings people together and can be an excellent opportunity for groups of people to see another group's perspective. Therefore, it is pivotal that comedy include marginalized people's voices.

"Comedy should not be censored; it is a commentary on social constructs that are unfolding all the time," she said. "Minorities' perspectives are more likely to be heard and spark change at a comedy show with an array of audience members than via a venting post on social media to their friends and family who will more likely be supportive but act more like an echo chamber. Therefore more marginalized opinions need to be included in comedy."

As someone who is always listening to marginalized voices, Sepp also spoke on how proud she is of how women who have fiercely carved out their own space in the comedy world have given themselves microphones to make their voices louder rather than waiting for others to help them. Having directed an entire show herself previously, Sepp mentioned several women in comedy who have inspired her, such as Kelsie Huff, a standup teacher who empowers women to take on more leadership roles, and Meredith Kachel, who has rated comedy troupes in Chicago by the frequency they cast women in their shows.

"No one bats an eye when there are all men shows, but when there is an effort to diversify, people get confused because it isn't as normalized," Sepp said.

She explained that even though she has witnessed tremendous growth in women's involvement in the industry, inequality persists. However, she remained positive and inspired, saying that watching others do courageous and impactful work such as her fellow female colleagues is what drives her to do more too.

For Sepp, the future is bright with new adventures, new fitness goals—and certainly more jokes and laughter.

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