Elisa Yousett ‘battles’ time, finds humor

By Lisa Schulz

Even as an 11-year-old with a simple birthday wish to attend a concert, Elisa Yousett, senior arts, entertainment and media management major and marketing communication minor, dreamed of working in the entertainment industry. She began her managerial career early, hosting Battle of the Bands at her former Buffalo, N.Y., home from age 11 to 17. Now the full-time student balances five jobs and cofounded Blurp Events. Her resumé is stuffed with more than 11 jobs and internships, ranging from music management to wedding planning.

The Chronicle sat down with Yousett, who had Stephen King’s “Insomnia” and a cup of coffee in hand, to discuss one of Columbia’s improv clubs, “Spit Talking,” past duties, embarrassing moments and the future.

The Chronicle: Why did you decide to be part of Columbia’s improv club?

Elisa Yousett: When I was a freshman, all of my roommates were juniors. They got me to go [to improv club] one day and I fell in love with it. It’s just so goofy and everyone was making a fool of themselves all together. When I was a junior, I became the president.

The Chronicle: How did you manage that?

EY: When I was a sophomore—my second year of improv club—it kind of fell apart. It wasn’t organized at all. The rest of the improv club nominated me.

The Chronicle: What’s the best printable joke you’ve heard lately?

EY: My jokes come from Laffy Taffy wrappers. I really like the one about the two muffins in an oven. One muffin says to the other, “Oh, it’s hot in here,” and the other muffin goes, “Oh my God, a talking muffin!”

The Chronicle: What’s the most memorable moment you’ve had on stage?

EY: I was on stage for Battle of the Bands. It was an eight-person ska band, and it was taking them forever to get ready. The crowd was getting bored and wanted to leave, so I put on a pair of glasses with a nose and mustache. I asked [the] audience to do a Borat impression. Whoever did the best one got the glasses. [Nothing] really embarrassing happened. Pants are usually on the whole time.

The Chronicle: How do you overcome embarrassing moments on stage?

EY: With improv and anything else on stage, just do anything even worse. Make it look like it was supposed to happen that way. Don’t be afraid, just be confident that it’s going to be funny one way or another.

The Chronicle: What’s the most life-changing thing you’ve learned from

your experience?

EY: Internships are really important. They will kind of kill your spirit at the same time. They’re filing papers or getting people coffee or doing their dishes. But it’s so worth it in the end. It looks good on your resumé and you can get a letter of recommendation.

The Chronicle: What’s the worst job you’ve had? And why?

EY: I don’t think jobs are bad. You just don’t like jobs. I was giving away free samples at a grocery store, and it was so boring. The only thing that changed every day at that job were the free samples.

The Chronicle: What’s your dream job?

EY: I’d like to get young kids involved in improv and managing talent. [In the future, I’d] find a place eventually [for] some of the improvisers I have to teach classes, and at night have fun concerts or events, like ’90s parties or carnival-themed and have it fun and safe for all ages.

The Chronicle: What advice would you give to students aspiring to follow

your path?

EY: Volunteer. Always be willing to help other people. I do volunteer work for people who I look up to, [like] Joe James. He’s a teacher here for improv and [at] Second City. If I can just be near him, maybe some of that greatness will rub off on me. Maybe some day he’ll want to help me, too.

The Chronicle: Where do you find your wide range of jobs?

EY: Windy City Fieldhouse and the wedding [planning] both came from Craigslist. I’m just willing to try everything and see what’s the best to stick with. I remember I did speed dating events for a long time, too.

The Chronicle: What was that like?

EY: It was weird. I was the youngest person. Thirty-six was the youngest age that somebody could sign up to go on a speed dating event. I was just sitting there, holding the microphone telling people, “Alright guys, it’s time to switch tables.” I was 19, so I couldn’t drink or anything. It was all

in bars.

The Chronicle: What brings “Insomnia” to the table today?

EY: I just finished “The Dark Tower” series. I never planned on ever reading Stephen King before, but someone gave me “The Gunslinger,” and I had to finish the seven-book series. Now I’ll give him some credit. He’s pretty cool.

The Chronicle: What else should our readers know?

EY: Give yourself a day off when you need it. [I take off] probably once or twice a month if I can afford it.