A Conversation with Katharine Heller About Rollerskating and Filing Cats’ Nails, (aka Being a Professional Actor)

Whenever I order a beer, I wonder what that bartender would rather be doing, if her eyeshadow is actually leftover from a dress rehearsal for some off-off-Broadway play that might get a dozen audience members on a good night. I spoke with Katharine Heller, a former bartender and current actor/comedian/writer/podcast host about this transition from behind the bar to in front of the crowd. As she does in her podcast Tell the Bartender, she entertained me with stories about her comedy punk band Bitch Chicks on the Rag and filing the nails of cats with stagefright, all in the name of acting. We talked about how she pays her bills, the importance of stage combat, and how bartending made her a better actor.

A Tale of Two Quittings

My boyfriend and I quit our jobs for a 1982 Volkswagen camper van with a pop-up roof. No one quits without a reason. Maybe you’re more engaged picking blueberry muffin crumbs from between the keys of your keyboard than doing your actual job. Maybe your boss makes you feel like a eunuch. Everyone has their reasons, and ours was the van.