This LGBTQ+ Pride Month, AAE was joined by comedian, writer and best-selling author of “The One You Want to Marry,” Sophie Santos.
Santos is currently the head writer for “Lil’ Interns,” a workplace docuseries that takes kid interns around real companies with an SNL personality. She is also known for hosting “The Lesbian Agenda,” her live comedy and variety show in Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared on Bravo and MTV and has been featured in Entertainment Weekly, them., Bustle, and more.
I recently had a conversation with Santos about getting her start in comedy, finding her identity, her memoir, and what she’s up to next.
AAE: Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started in comedy and as an author.
Santos: I got my start in comedy in New York at the UCB Theater. I trained in sketch comedy and improv and fell in love immediately. From there, I started performing “bits” around town because I was too scared to call it standup. At first, I was mainly doing queer shows, but I realized quickly that there was a major gap in the market for lesbian-centric shows. Most weren’t run by queer women or gender non-conforming people.
I decided to start my own show called “The Lesbian Agenda,” and immediately it started selling out, which was amazing. I was so happy to start talking about our culture because lesbians do have their own culture! By doing that show, I realized I loved performing satire and was lucky enough to strengthen my skills by working on various variety shows at MTV. To this day, the show has been running for four years and went from a one-hundred seat theater in Brooklyn to a three-hundred and fifty seat theater. It’s been so cool watching it grow, and I love performing it.
Because I was gaining more confidence being on stage, I started to work on my own personal material which was musical comedy. I’ve always loved Bo Burnham and really wanted to do what he did. I wanted my music to sound like it could be on the radio. So I started collaborating and writing with a friend of mine who’s an incredible musician, James Harvey, and I started performing “tracks” around New York.
One night, I was performing a song about how my girlfriend at the time and I kept getting mistaken for sisters (fellow lesbians, please stand up), and there happened to be an editor in the audience. She told me she liked my material and said if I ever wanted to write a book to send her an email. Little did I know that the imprint she worked for was “Transparent” creator, Joey Soloway’s imprint, Topple books. Truly Cinderella-bananas stuff. I emailed her, and the rest is history.
I love speaking about identity, especially what it means to be mixed and not feel like you can necessarily fit into one box entirely.
AAE: What topics do you speak on, and why are they important to you?
Santos: I love discussing LGBTQ+ issues but in a fun and light way, which is why I do “The Lesbian Agenda.” Everything with the agenda is about what we’ve managed to accomplish and highlights our experience in a positive light.
I also suffer from OCD (which I talk a lot about in my music), and it is something I love speaking about. I’m also Southern, Spanish and Filipino, which is truly a crazy mixed bag, and love speaking about identity — especially what it means to be mixed and not feel like you can necessarily fit into one box entirely. Census surveys are my kryptonite. And I think it’s cool to discuss being a young author in general. There aren’t many young memoirists, let alone, queer POC memoirists, so I love speaking about that journey. I can also speak to being a military kid because it was such a big part of my life. I moved around so much and lived in twelve different places.
AAE: What kinds of audiences do you usually speak to? Who do you think resonates the most with your message?
Santos: I normally perform comedy to queer people just because that’s just kind of what ends up happening but I also do well with women and mental health advocates. I’ve spoken at “women in finance” events. I think queer people, women, Asian, and mental health platforms are my sweet spot. As well as colleges! Young people get me (I think)!
AAE: What is unique about your take on a topic or message that differentiates you from others in the field?
Santos: I think because I’m a lot of things, I can cross off a lot of boxes. I have a queer experience but through the lens of a military brat who moved around a lot and am from a multi-racial background. Not to mention, in my book I discuss how I went from being a tackle football-playing tomboy to a pageant queen, sorority girl (yes, I won competitions, thank you), and finally an out and proud non-binary lesbian. It’s a journey that I think most people can relate to and find humor in.
AAE: Please share an example of the impact of one of your performances on an audience member.
Santos: I wrote a song about having OCD. The entire idea is that I’m discussing what type of OCD I have which are intrusive thoughts, and while discussing it, OCD decides to take over the song. Ever since I started performing it, a lot of people have come up to me to discuss what it’s like having OCD. And I’m realizing that more people have OCD than I even imagined.
AAE: What do you think has been your greatest accomplishment or impact?
Santos: I think writing my book, but also creating “The Lesbian Agenda.” It’s been amazing to have a show centered on the queer female/gender non-conforming experience. We’re out here!
AAE: What’s next for you in your career journey?
Santos: I’m developing a half-hour comedy about the first female NFL color commentator with Paul Scheer, and my solo show SOCD is being produced by Joey Soloway. Also! “The Lesbian Agenda” is now monthly at the iconic Dynasty Typewriter in LA. Super excited for people to see these shows!
Sophie Santos has taken her talents as a writer and performer and channeled them into projects that celebrate identity and uplift and the LGBTQ+ community and culture. Learn more about her speaking topics and check out the many other LGBTQ+ voices we are celebrating.