Abbi Crutchfield is part of Oxygen’s digital series In Progress 52. In 2016, Oxygen's Very Real digital hub is featuring 52 of these outstanding women: that's one woman a week, for 52 weeks. Check out the series here!
Abbi Crutchfield is the perfect host for truTV’s new show You Can Do Better, a mix of “sketch, how-to, man-on-the-street and expert interviews” that attempts to educate viewers on all the lifehacks they’ve somehow missed. Crutchfield is an eclectic comedian herself, as comfortable hosting her own stand-up show as she is creating memes for her thousands of followers on Instagram -- and elaborate manicures for her other Instagram. She also has 35,000 followers on Twitter, where she pours out jokes during her seemingly non-existent downtime. Basically, Abbi Crutchfield can and does do everything, and she even took the time to talk with Oxygen about how she got where she is.
Crutchfield’s upbringing and education prepared her for messing around with the plaything that is social media. She says, “I grew up in Indianapolis, and I got to go to a Montessori school where they taught you with interactive ‘materials’ that I just felt like were toys. I was trying to entertain my friends and teachers as early as Kindergarten with jokes, poetry, drawings, and performances. My parents were always amused. Looking at me was all the encouragement I needed.”
Her ability to find a way to fit her voice to any medium has led to quite a collection of online accounts. One might even think of it as hoarding?
“I have five accounts! One for my comedy, one for nail art, one for my dogs, one for my weekly live comedy show, and one for my touring stand-up show. Wait I also have one for an old improv group, one for an old sketch group, and one for my dead dog. I have eight. I need help!”
When asked if the nail art has anything to do with comedy, Crutchfield says, “I have been into nail art since I was a kid. I got back into it a couple of years ago and have been enabled by other nail art enthusiasts on Instagram to keep showing what I make. I like painting in general, and the nail bed is a tiny canvas that allows me to execute ideas more quickly.”
Since putting yourself out there is such an important part of making comedy, we asked where Crutchfield began to develop the confidence she needed to try and make other people laugh at her ideas. She says, “Confidence comes from knowing you are valuable and that you matter. Everyone should have it, because everyone is valuable and matters, but not everyone believes it. Once you are comfortable with yourself and like what you have written, if the audience disagrees with you it doesn't ruin your world. It just makes you go, ‘Okay I will work on that.’ Or ‘Y'all crazy. That was FUNNY.’”
But she does love her fans, and tries to engage with them, adding, “When people say positive things, I think it would be rude not to engage. When they say negative things, it is usually rude TO engage, so I leave them alone. ALL ALONE...There is no point trying to get everyone to love your jokes or your style of comedy because any given comedian has more people who don't like them than who do. That is called statistics. Your energy is better spent writing what makes you laugh and then letting the people who love it come out of the woodwork. That is your audience, and the people who will help put food on your table.”
Abbi feels hopeful that with the expansion of streaming services, and the kind of shows they’re producing, we’ll be seeing more of a sea change in network television when it comes to representing women and people of color.
“I don't pay close enough attention to calculate the actual change, but the impression I get from watching streaming series—Netflix comedies like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt or dramas like Luke Cage—is there are at least two shows that are interested in hiring extremely talented women and people of color. Hopefully that will continue with more streaming original series and then carry over to cable and network television. No one should let the much-documented major bias in the entertainment industry stop them from creating something amazing. Making art is the first step to getting it seen. “
But does she want her own show?
“My dream gig is to make Honey Bunches of Oats, but until Diana Hunter steps down, I am forced to be a comedian.”
Comedians tend to walk a delicate line between telling it like it is and telling it like no one wants to hear. When it comes to navigating that tightrope walk, Crutchfield seems to think everyone has a right to their opinion—even if it’s bad.
“Being sensitive is not a bad thing. Not being sensitive enough is the beginning of a true crime drama! Everyone should respect everyone. When comedians joke, they run the risk of offending someone who does not want that topic explored. I support both freedom of speech and freedom of an audience member to walk out. George Michael wrote a song about freedom. I forget what it is called.”
Crutchfield’s show You Can Do Better is premiering this fall on truTV, Tuesdays at 10:30/9:30c, but it wasn’t a direct road from stand up to being on TV. She says, “A lot of choices I made that seemed to suck for a while were necessary to build me into who I am today.”
Her advice for her past self (and maybe anybody starting out on the comedy business today) is more about how to live life than live comedy, which is probably what makes her such a great comedian in the first place:
“Start exercising now (you will actually like it, and it will help you not to feel so anxious), keep painting (it makes you feel magical), let someone tell you no instead of doing it for them (because they might not), call and visit your Grandma more.”