Carmen Morales has never been to Montana.
That will change this week when the standup comic embarks on a four-stop tour of the state. She will be in Billings on Thursday November 17th and then travel to Bozeman on November 18th, Missoula on November 19th and Helena on November 20th.
She has been doing comedy for 16 years and that includes shows in around 40 states and several countries. Still, she admits she’s a little nervous about performing in Montana for the first time.
“It’s a new market,” she explained. “I’ve never really played for these people. You always want people to like what you do and get all the references.”
It’s a legitimate concern. Morales now lives in Los Angeles, but she started in Florida. Orlando may have a 407 area code, but otherwise it has very little in common with the 406.
Still, Montana is fast becoming a standup destination. Which isn’t entirely surprising. After all, Missoula has always had a few busy open mics and hey, Dana Carvey was born in Montana — just don’t mention that he moved away when he was two years old.
The Last Best Comedy Club opened just off Main Street in Bozeman last year and is very busy. But this is a city. Morales heads for four. She is brought to Montana by Bone Dry Comedy, a collective founded by local comics Alex Kaufman and Rena Thiel, which spreads touring comedians across the state in places without their own comedy club. Every month for about a year, they’ve been sending comedians to what they call “The Run” — four stations across the state.
Bone Dry is bringing Amy Miller along this December.
There are nerves, but Morales is mostly looking forward to exploring a new place with a new audience.
“After the pandemic, I reevaluated my purpose of doing everything,” Morales said. “I want to make people happy.”
“But I’m also a stupid asshole,” she admitted, laughing. “I hope people enjoy being the stupid asshole that I am.”
This stupidity is innate. Morales has always been funny. That was never her problem. But once she started, it was hard. Being funny is intrinsic. But comedy in front of a crowd, win them over and make them laugh? That’s a job.
“It’s a long, grueling process,” she said of entering the industry. “There’s nothing funny about that at all. You do it and do it and keep banging your head on until you’re like, ‘I’m gonna bang my head on forever, I guess. But I like it.'”
It’s hard work. But for Morales, it’s paying off. She recently starred in an episode of HBO’s Latinx comedy show Entre Nos.
“There aren’t many voices speaking about the things I speak about,” she said. “It’s not in stereotypes. I’m more into that diversity of thinking… Why don’t we have a few different people that have different kinds of thoughts instead of this old school mentality with really broad brushstrokes?”
She also has a podcast called No Sir I Don’t Like It and has been featured on Showtime, IFC and Hulu, among others.
She’s prolific, but Morales doesn’t like to sit down and write. Everything has to get out of her head.
“I’m all jazz,” she said. “The only way I’m going to be my best is when I’m free falling and I’m scared. So I have to do it on stage.”
Going on stage isn’t just a performance, it’s a writing opportunity.
“It’s a comedy sandwich,” Morales explained. “You do stuff that you know works and you work on the stuff that you’re not sure about in the middle and then you finish strong.”
People all over Montana will have a chance to see this comedy sandwich, and Morales is excited to explore a place she’s never been.
“I heard how beautiful it is,” she said. “I’m curious.”