Meet Anna Drezen — The Hilarious Female Comedian Who Writes For 'SNL'

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who is Anna Drezen
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While we often think of comedians as just doing stand-up routines, they also use their talent for other things. In fact, a lot of comics got their start writing for shows, including Stephen Colbert, Conan O’Brien, Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Michelle Wolf, Judd Apatow, and Sarah Silverman. We obviously know their names now, but they all struggled to make a name for themselves.

With Vulture’s list of comedians to know in 2019, one comedian in particular may not be known by her face, but you’ve certainly seen her work in action. And her credits are far more impressive than it appears.

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Who is Anna Drezen? This comedian, actress, and writer has accomplished quite a bit, and writing for television shows is just the tip of the iceberg.

1. She’s from New York.

Drezen grew up in Long Island, New York, eventually attending New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. In addition to studying drama, she also has a certificate in Shakespeare in Performance from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Her older brother, Rich Drezen, is also a comedian and comic artist.

2. She’s a sexual assault survivor, but doesn’t make it part of her stand-up.

Though Drezen is a survivor of acquaintance rape, she doesn’t want to relive her trauma on stage. In an interview with Dazed, she opened up about her reasoning:

“In general, it’s the trend with live comedy and TV or film comedy. The idea of ‘think of the worst thing that’s ever happened to you and tell us about it.’ Why is that the go-to? #MeToo is incredible but it sucks that we have to divulge these horrible things in order for someone else have some baseline empathy for us. It’s exhausting. That [sexual assault] stuff is not the most interesting stuff that I’ve experienced and I don’t feel like talking about it but people are like, ‘if it happened, isn’t that really what the show is about?’

I’ve seen so many reviews of women’s shows in this year’s Fringe of people being like, “well, if only she had opened up more.” F*** off, that is so inappropriate. Who cares? No one is saying that about men’s shows. You’re allowed to just write jokes. ‘If only she had hemorrhaged something she hadn’t quite processed for herself on stage before me, then I would’ve liked her comedy more!’ I just don’t get that.”

3. She’s a writer and editor.

She’s currently the editor at large for Reductress, a satirical website similar to the Onion, with a feminist humor twist. She’s also written for MTV, Thought Catalog, Nylon, the Daily Dot, and Cracked.

During a Q&A with The Spectrum, Drezen spoke about her experience writing for Reductress and how people often confuse the satire with real thoughts:

“I wrote a first person article and it was making fun of how people get baby girl’s ears pierced like immediately. And [the article] was called ‘We’re Piercing My Baby’s Tongue. Here’s Why.’ And a big discussion that [went] off on the comments, especially on Facebook, was that it was an allegory for circumcision of babies...

I’ll still sometimes get an email that’s like ‘you’re disgusting!’ But, I got one from a woman who said, ‘OK, my friend told me that this site is satire, but I’m so worried about that little baby, so please just tell me that it’s not real and I’ll feel better.’ And I wanted to get mad at her, but she’s really worried about the baby, and it takes me two seconds to write back so I was like, ‘Hey, yeah, it’s satire and no, I don’t have a baby.’ So that was a delight.”

She also talked to Dazed about the website and described how she got involved, saying:

“I got involved [with Reductress] through my friend Josh Gondelman; he’s a comic. I saw it and was instantly annoyed that I hadn’t thought of it. He told me that I could talk to them and I started with them as a writer, editor and hosted live shows. I wrote a book with them too. I really liked that it was satire for women’s experiences. It’s nice to do something that can be completely useless politically or really have a take. 

Pre-#MeToo, there was a comedian in New York that was banned from a few theatres for rape. He was very upset that he was kicked out so he wrote a long, angry post and it started a mini #MeToo moment. We did a full-site takeover of Reductress with stories about men and rape culture. It was refreshing to have funny women talking about this stuff that’s meant to be so unseen.”

4. But she’s also a pretty hilarious comedian.

Drezen performs stand-up and sketches with the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, as well as clubs like People’s Improv Theater, Union Hall, and the Annoyance. She’s been in videos for Funny or Die, Buzzfeed, CollegeHumor, and Above Average.

But she’s also part of a sketch comedy group called Gentlemen Party, which has performed at the PIT, Chicago Sketchfest, the Del Close Marathon, and the Museum of Modern Art. Even cooler? She’s a member of the Story Pirates, “an educational organization that performs hilarious stories written by kids.”

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As for her comedic style, she openly discussed this with The Spectrum. When asked about having side jobs, she responded with what got her into comedy in the first place:

“My attitude in college was that I’d do acting and comedy when I graduated and just see what took off. Comedy was a lot more fun for me and easier to do, plus people weren’t clamouring for me to be in their films and TV shows! I scammed my way onto my first comedy show. 

There was a barker on 34th Street - a guy promoting a comedy show - and he went to give me a flier so I said I was a comedian. He asked me if I wanted to do a set and I said sure. I did not get asked back. But yes, I was doing a lot of those side jobs while also doing stand up. I worked at the dog groomer, at a restaurant, I was a babysitter and I worked as a concierge in a hotel for four years. I was an office manager for a ticket scalper for a little while.”

But Drezen is perhaps most notable for being a writer for Saturday Night Live! She joined the writing staff in 2016 before the show’s 42nd season. Aside from writing, she’s toured with cast members Melissa Villaseñor and Alex Moffat, and was nominated alongside her coworkers for an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series from 2017-2019.

As she told Dazed about landing a job at SNL, “I failed for ten years, got miserable, became an alcoholic and felt really sad all the time. I had one good thing happen (that job) and that was great. Highly recommend this can’t fail process! It happened when I was writing for Reductress and one of the head writers saw my work there. They also sort of knew me from around UCB doing stand up a little bit. He had me submit a packet of sketches.”

Plus, she also revealed to The Spectrum how she gets inspiration for writing sketches: “It’s hard. It’s usually in the ambient media that you absorb while you are going through your day, you’ll be like ‘oh, that’s a dissident idea that can be extrapolated into a sketch.’ But yeah I’ll keep a list in my phone of little nuggets, and you’ll kind of bounce them around with other people and see if there is something workable there.”

5. She’s co-written two books.

In 2016, her book with Todd Dakotah Briscoe, called How May We Hate You?, was released. According to the synopsis, “Most people think hotel employees are effortlessly cheerful, naturally helpful, and genuinely like their work. Most people are wrong. Find out what really goes on in the world of hospitality with this hilarious book full of funny and absurd stories, anecdotes told in dialogue, factoids, and hoax pop quizzes by two veteran concierges who paid their way while working at a combined 50 hotels in and around Times Square.”

She also co-wrote a book with Reductress, Beth Newell, and Sarah Pappalardo called How To Win At Feminism. Satirical, the book is described as: “Be the best feminist you can be — or at least look like one — with this definitive manual, from the satirical creators of the wildly popular ‘feminist Onion’ humor website, Reductress. From hot feminist sex to a trendy feminist up-do, the bold and brilliant minds behind Reductress reveal the secrets to being super progressive — and cool, hip, and pretty. Feminism today means demanding gender equality — and a fabulous manicure. After all, we’re not wearing girdles and cleaning the house anymore. We’re wearing Spanx and hiring a cleaning lady. That’s feminism!”

6. Oh, and she has an obsession with true crime.

Ah, music to our ears! She recently performed her stand-up set “Okay, Get Home Safe” at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Inspired by her love of true crime podcasts, she described the show as such:

“My show is an hour of stand-up that I’ve been working on for a couple of years. Essentially, it’s about my obsession with true crime. There’s a lot of danger messaging for mostly women but also other people. A lot of ‘be careful!’ We get told a lot about danger and then we get obsessed with danger. There are entire TV channel in the States for people who are obsessed with danger. 

We have true crime because we like looking at scary things. I love true crime personally and listen to a lot of murder podcasts. I think it’s interesting how it’s such a big thing and I’m interested in my own obsession. People interested in their own obsession are the beating heart of Fringe. But... murder, why do we like this?...

People want to see high stakes. When people tell you there’s danger out there you don’t want to sit around and wait for it, you want to face it on your own terms. Hence, why I have watched hours upon hours of crimes from before when I was born.”

Drezen also described why her show opens with footage of women who are, for some weird reason, obsessed with Ted Bundy:

“He’s having a moment, he’s got a lot of buzz this summer. I just think it’s funny how he’s a consumer product now. People are like ‘what’s this obsession with Ted Bundy?’ I play this video at the beginning of the show of a newscaster from 1979 from the Ted Bundy trial, basically saying, ‘what’s the deal with Ted Bundy? Why do women like it?’ I don’t find him that interesting, but I find the obsession around him very interesting. I don’t think he’s that hot. I think he’s OK.

Anyway, what he did was so clearly awful but you’ll see in the video that there’s these women saying, ‘I don’t know whether he did it or not’ or ‘I’m so scared of him but I’m here at his trial anyway.’ One woman at the trial feels bad for him because he has to look at pictures of bloody pillows! It’s crazy to think how that thought process works.”

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Samantha Maffucci is an editor for YourTango who focuses on writing trending news and entertainment pieces. In her free time, you can find her obsessing about cats, wine, and all things Vanderpump Rules.