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Kimberly Michelle Vaughn onstage at The Second City


Laugh Track

By Thomas Connors

Photo by Frank Ishman


Kimberly Michelle Vaughn offers her thoughts on overcoming obstacles in comedy and playing for laughs.

Growing up in Algonquin, Kimberly Michelle Vaughn didn’t imagine herself the next Tina Fey or Tiffany Haddish. But she knew she wanted to perform and, after earning a theater degree at Columbia College, she became one of The Second City’s first Bob Curry Fellowship recipients, appearing most recently in She the People: Girlfriends’ Guide to Sisters Doing It For Themselves, The Second City’s first all-female show. You can currently catch her on the mainstage in Algorithm Nation or The Static Quo.

Comedy has to be tough these days.
It’s definitely a funny time to be funny, especially when everyone is easily offended. Audiences don’t understand satire anymore. You are walking on eggshells; you can have the audience in your hands and easily lose them.

What hurdles have you faced?
My experience, as a black woman onstage, is that people assume I will only speak about that. That’s a bit frustrating. They expect me to speak only on what I know because of the color of my skin.

The Second City’s magic is in the collaboration—is that how you, as a performer, see it?
Yes. People shouldn’t leave saying ‘I like that guy’ or ‘I liked that one girl with the brown hair.’ It should be ‘I really love that ensemble.’ It’s all about every voice being heard