Name Sarah Smallwood Parsons
Birthday November 18th
Where are you originally from? A small town in Connecticut
Where do you currently live? Astoria, Queens
Preferred Art Medium Video and live performance
Hobby or interest aside from art? EATING.
Guilty pleasures? Magicians.
Who are some of your favorite artists? All magicians.
Favorite movie? Fantastic Mr. Fox
Favorite book? I’m reading Harry Potter for the first time. It’s wonderful.
Favorite song/album/band/musician? Anything you can fuck and/or cry to.
What are 3 things you want to achieve? Be a regular on a comedic television series, make all my exes regret losing me, get fucking toned.
What is something you deeply love about yourself? My wit and rack.
What is your definition of art? Making something
Briefly describe the circumstances under which you grew up, and how did these influence your art?
I grew up with parents who could act and sing and a brother that was funnier than me. I was raised with no religion, boys could sleep in my room, and I could go to any party I wanted as long as they knew where I was, but I didn’t drink or have sex until I was seventeen. My parents are alcoholics, so at times art was an escape, but they were also very affectionate and supportive. They have great senses of humor, my brother too, and they never judge my comedy, no matter how risqué. I think they’re the reason I’m so confident and unafraid to try anything for a laugh.
“[In comedy] You do something and people have a physical reaction to it, it’s amazing. I never feel more powerful. A show can erase an entire bad day”
Can you remember a specific experience from your life that has shaped who you are and what you do as an artist today?
A friend of mine in college died in a freak accident. He was a year younger than me. I had been putting off trying stand-up so I Googled ‘open mics’ and drove to the first one I found, all the way in North Hampton. I won funniest comic of the night and a copy of a thrift store picture book called ‘Star Babies.”
Have you had any struggle with mental illness (and/or addiction) and if so, would you like to share your experience with us?
I have depression, which is hard to explain sometimes. It feels less like sadness and more like I’m seeing the world for what it really is. I started taking anti-depressants a few years ago but they took away my ability to orgasm, so I stopped. I went back on them last year after watching an episode of the Chris Gethard show with Maria Bamford about mental illness, and am doing much better. And having orgasms. In case you were worried.
“A friend of mine in college died in a freak accident. I had been putting off trying stand-up, so I Googled ‘open mics’ and drove to the first one I found”
Artists paths are normally non-linear. Can you recall for us what your path has been like?
I always wanted to be an actor. I played Lucy in my high school’s production of You’re A Good Man CB which was maybe the happiest time of my life, but I had trouble focusing on one art form and sort of just went with the flow. I didn’t get into the acting program at my college, so I studied art. I didn’t transfer to a better school because I loved my a cappella group. I’ve studied different forms of art under teachers like Jana Pivacek, John O’Donnell, Brian Urreta, Will Storie, Frank Garcia-Hejl, and a series of UCB all-stars. Adrian Frimpong invited me to join a video team called Terms of Service, which I was honestly hesitant about, not realizing it would be the best thing I did since moving to New York and how I would meet the director of my new web series.
What attracts you to comedy?
You do something and people have a physical reaction to it, it’s amazing. I never feel more powerful. A show can erase an entire bad day, even if I bomb (bombing makes me feel like a “real comedian” for some reason.) I feel high after a show, and incredibly sexy. The comedy community is most of my social life. It’s a place where crying and showing your insides is encouraged, where you can wear big mustaches and get covered in blood. Who wouldn’t love that?
“While I think the media has gotten better about showing what sex is really like for women, I still see one-night-stands shown as a recipe for great sex. I was constantly looking for the hot stranger who fucks your brains out and leaves in the morning, what I got was the guy who leaves his shoes on during sex”
You are the co-star and head writer of Terms of Service, a sketch comedy TV show (airing monthly on BRIC/MNN)— how did you get your start in writing comedy?
I wrote a comic strip called Happy Dance for the Daily Campus newspaper, which I still find cut out and hanging on strangers’ fridges from time to time, and self-published the comedic children’s picture book Playground that screamed “I would rather be doing comedy than this!” I spent three years writing stand-up in Connecticut, which was mostly about my short haircut at the time and is now entirely unusable. I mostly wrote sketches and characters on my own so I’d have something to film for my acting reel. Having a leadership position on a team is new to me. There’s this thing at UCB where you don’t feel like you have anything to offer people until you get on a house team, and it just isn’t true. I’m glad I got over it. I’ve even started directing.
"Winter Sex" Written by Adrien Pellerin, Featuring Sarah Parsons & Adrien Pellerin
You recently premiered your web series “FUCKING” of which you are the creator and star— and it is hilarious! What inspired you to create this show?
Every episode of FUCKING is loosely based on a sexual experience I’ve had. I guess I was trying to take something awkward and negative and make it funny. The idea of creating and starring in a web series that takes place completely during sex was terrifying and exciting to me. It didn’t feel allowed. I honestly didn’t have a lot of faith in the idea until my teammate Alec Cohen agreed to direct it. He has great taste and could make a pile of dirt look good.
“FUCKING” is told primarily through the female point of view. What observation are you making regarding women’s experience of sex?
I’ve never had good casual sex. Unless I think you have a real interest in me, it just doesn’t do it for me. While I think the media has gotten better about showing what sex is really like for women (I haven’t seen quite as many of us instantaneously cuming with nothing even close to our clits) I still saw one-night-stands shown as a recipe for great sex. I was constantly looking for the hot stranger who fucks your brains out and leaves in the morning, what I got was the guy who leaves his shoes on during sex (see episode 3). Needing a real connection to have sex is kind of taboo for women, like we’re uptight, or suffocating, or can’t just have fun, but that’s just how my body works and maybe some viewers can relate to that. I recently had a guy tell me he wasn’t looking for anything serious while he was naked and on top of me, just about to put it in. No joke, the condom was on.
Can we look forward to a second season/more episodes of “FUCKING”?
FUCKING season two is in the works! I have sadly gathered enough material since season one to start writing, but Alec and I are trying something new and asking people to submit their awkward sex stories to possibly be turned into episodes. If you’re interested, submit yours at sarahsmallwoodparsons.com/fucking.
“I think a key part of getting opportunities is just being around”
You are also currently co-starring in the comedic play “Hint, A Murder Mystery” at UCB Theater— Which seems to be a combination of improv and scripted performance. How did you get involved in this project, and how does it feel to be performing at the renowned UCB theater?
Deathbird was my first team in the sketch program Boogiemanja at the PIT loft. Every month we wrote and performed six new sketches, but one month we decided to surprise the audience with a thirty-minute narrative. It was a take-off on Clue with dumber characters and we work-shopped it for a year before we submit it to UCB as a SPANK (basically an audition) and got a run. It’s my first show at the theater and I can finally call myself an official UCB performer. There’s a poster hanging in the theater with my face on it right now. It still makes me cry.
“People don’t consider writing and performing work if you don’t get paid for it. I often feel lazy when I’m constantly working, it makes it hard to relax and take care of myself”
What do you think are the main obstacles you’ve had to overcome as an artist?
People don’t consider writing and performing work if you don’t get paid for it. I often feel lazy when I’m constantly working, it makes it hard to relax and take care of myself. Money is always an issue, but I’ve found that I have the same amount left over whether I have a day job or I’m freelancing, because my spending habits adjust. I like living as a starving artist. You figure out what’s really important.
What kind of patterns, routines or rituals do you have to keep the creative juices flowing?
I work better with deadlines, so I try to book a lot of shows to generate material. I think a key part of getting opportunities is just being around. On ‘New Girl’ they call it “Bidening” though they’re talking about getting someone to take you home. People have to see you or they forget you exist. I’ve recently started hosting shows and have gotten more invites to perform than ever, sort of like how celebrities get free coffee; I needed this more before but I’m happy to be getting it now.
What project/series are you working on for the near future?
TOS Comedy is releasing a new series of videos soon, two of which I wrote and directed. Subscribe to us on YouTube or check out toscomedy.com for updates. Until then I’ll be doing some very difficult research for FUCKING Season 2. The things we do for our art.
“The things we do for our art”
Watch All Four Episodes Of FUCKING Below Episode 1 - "Charlie"
Episode 2 - "More Room"
Episode 3 - "Traction"
Episode 4 - "The Way It Is"
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