A Born Comedian
An aspiring comedian, Ellie McElvain ’14 applied for the 5C improv comedy group Without a Box as first-year – and didn’t make the cut. But don’t worry, this story has a happy (and funny) ending.
“It was fine,” she says. “Nothing could have been better than not getting in, because it forced me to find another avenue to perform comedy.”
McElvain instead joined 5C Late Night Standup and dove head first into the comedy world, producing shows, performing at open mics, and gaining traction on Twitter (follow her at @elliemce). The work paid off – in 2012 The Huffington Post anointed her observations one of the Best Women Tweets, right alongside Mindy Kaling and Lena Dunham.
McElvain’s social media savvy led to connections with Los Angeles based comedians; when they followed her on Twitter, it boosted her confidence to write and be funny on a more consistent basis. In turn, she built a comedic connection between Claremont and Los Angeles, inviting comedians to perform here and securing a coveted summer internship with Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
“My favorite part of the summer was sneaking into the monologue rehearsals,” she says. “This is where joke writers bring in an audience to monitor their reactions to the rough draft jokes. This intersection of creativity and business was so fascinating to me.”
While in New York, McElvain tried her hand performing stand-up in the city. “People didn’t know me there, so I just had to impress them,” she says. And impress them she did.
From her first rejection at Scripps to her bi-coastal stand-up performances, McElvain has come a long way. Her trajectory in comedy happened alongside her Scripps education, where she learned about the humanities, feminism, and intersectionality. “That,” she says, “has been undeniably important in the way I write and tell jokes.”
“I want to change hearts and minds with my jokes.” We’re confident she’ll succeed.
Find a women’s college that's right for you!
Educator, publisher, and philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps dedicated her dreams as well as her resources to pioneering an innovative setting for women's education as an integral part of The Claremont Colleges. At ninety years of age, she still saw life in terms of possibility and spoke of the women's college that opened its doors in 1926 as her "new adventure."