Leah Rudick is an actor, screenwriter and comedian based in Los Angeles who makes self-generated solo sketches on TikTok and Instagram that usually get 15 million+ likes at a shot. Andrew Rudick is a writer, actor and stand-up comedian who lives in the Midwest, appears on SiriusXM and makes comedy albums.
As brother and sister, there seems to be a Yin and a Yang as to who and what they are, separately and equally, as comic artists and performers. Yet, with their first ever co-joined stand-up comedy live showcase, The Siblings Tour – just started, the next date is in Philadelphia this Tuesday, January 17 at Helium Comedy Club before moving onto St. Louis, Hot Springs and points north – the find a way into a shared aesthetic while maintaining the integrity of individualism. Or something like that.
A.D. Amorosi of Paradise Media/Philadelphia Weekly spoke at great length to Leah and Andrew Rudick at the start of The Siblings Tour.
A.D.: You seemingly have such separate lives and comic existences now – even down to the addresses where you currently live. Growing up, were you always differently funny/comically reflective? Or, if you had shared sensibilities in your youth – what were they, and when and how did they diverge?
Leah: Growing up we were always close and I think because of that we developed our comedic sensibilities together. When we were little, we would create characters and put on shows for our family, which I’m sure were god-awful, but our parents were too supportive to make us feel bad about our lack of innate talent.
Andrew: Even though we both found our ways into comedy through different paths, as adults we still share a lot of the same comedic instincts. We both have always loved comedy that leans toward the absurd and silly.
Leah: Our lives diverged when I left Ohio for New York to follow my theater dreams and Andrew went down the path of becoming an English professor. Like a real nerd.
Andrew: I was always a Dickens head. But I quickly became disillusioned with academia and at the same time I was watching these amazing videos Leah was putting out with her comedy partner Katie Hartman and I remember thinking, ‘well if I’m going to pursue a career that doesn’t pay well, I might as well try something I’ve always loved.’ At the time I was also convinced that Leah was on the brink of stardom and I remember having the distinct thought ‘if I have a famous sister, comedy will be easy for me.’
Leah: How’d that work out for you?
Andrew: Well, here we are 12 years later and you actually are finally helping my career. I’m riding those coattails straight to the top! And to be perfectly frank, it’s about time. This has been way more difficult than I anticipated. I’ve actually had to work at it. It sucks.
A.D.: Quick, dirty and Rorschach test-style Q: what is the silliest, goofiest and most humorous tale that you can recall of your childhood?
Andrew: When Leah was 10 and I was 7 we were having dinner and she choked on a hot dog.
Leah: How is this a funny story?
Andrew: Our dad had to give her the Heimlich maneuver.
Leah: Shout out to Len for saving my life.
Andrew: And when the hot dog was dislodged and everyone calmed down, I announced, “this is the biggest bite I can take!” and took a huge bite of that dog. Leah: Still can’t read a room.
A.D.: Have you ever performed together in the past and what were the circumstances?
Leah: We both did theater in high school, but there wasn’t much crossover. Andrew was a freshman when I was a senior. I was in the musical Titanic, given the only non-singing role because they felt sorry for me, and Andrew was on the crew rocking that spotlight.
Andrew: We would have collaborated together if Leah hadn’t rejected me from her high school improv group for humping the stool “too much” during my audition.
Leah: Yeah, sorry about that. We already had our token stool humper. I hope you can forgive me.
Andrew: Oh, I forgive you. But I’ll never forget.
A.D.: How and why did you come up with the current version of who each of you are now? Leah: you have written and acted in your own films, other series and have created solo character-driven web pieces. Andrew: you act but have more of a role in stand-up comedy, on stage and on albums. Did these skillsets and talents just emerge or did you hone the personae?
Leah: For me, my life has been a big messy process of just figuring out what the next thing I’m making is. I started doing sketch comedy right out of college and that was my focus during my formative years in New York. I was writing and performing with my sketch partner Katie Hartman in our duo Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting which is where I really found my comedic voice and love for character driven work. And then I moved to LA and started doing stand-up. But through it all the driving force has just been a love for performing. This manifests in all different mediums for me – be it film, sketch, character videos or stand up – it all stems from a desire to perform and make people laugh. Certainly, I’ve honed my skill-sets over the years, but that really just means becoming more truthful and specific in my own voice.
Andrew: My onstage persona has evolved over the years, but not necessarily through a conscious effort. It’s been more of a process of just allowing myself to discover my voice organically. I am finally at a point in my career now where I am able to think about and craft my onstage persona in a more purposeful, conscious and direct way. Whereas, when you’re a newer comic it’s much more difficult to choose what direction, you want your comedy to go because you have a million other factors and variables flying at you at the same time. All you can focus on is remembering the jokes you wrote once those blindingly bright lights come on. When I was one year in, I wasn’t focused on my “comedic voice” because I was too busy trying to figure out how to get Jed and Martha to stop talking through my set at Freddy’s HaHa Hut.
A.D.: Do you ever measure each other’s artistic success – not in terms of money, of course – or are you too concerned with your aesthetics to consider much about what the other sibling is coming up with? Andrew? Did you know that Leah’s mega-watt “Wealthy Woman” was coming and what was/is your opinion of this episode? Leah? What is your take on your brother’s “Well Behaved Young Man” album?
Andrew: It’s hard to not consider what Leah is doing when she’s a mega viral overnight success who is now being recognized in public constantly.
Leah: Oh, go on.
Andrew: And it’s good because it’s motivating. Measuring her success acts as a yardstick of potentiality for me. Plus, I’ve always looked up to Leah. She’s always been a guide and role model for me both in comedy and life, of her success is an inspiration to me. I had no idea the wealthy woman was coming. I was very happy to meet her. I don’t think either of us knew that character would pop off the way it did and if I had it my way, it would be The Goose – her character where she plays a jaded road dawg – and not the wealthy woman getting all the attention.
Leah: It has been so fun to watch Andrew’s journey. I was already many years into doing comedy when he made the shift from English professor to comedian so it has been so cool to watch him go from a terrible open mic comic to a terrible headliner.
Andrew: Wow. The fame has really gotten to your head.
Leah: I’m obviously kidding. Watching his growth and comfort on stage has been truly inspiring. I have learned so much about standup from him. He’s the first person I call to run a new joke I’m working on or talk shop. And I love his first album.
A.D.: What would each of you call the other’s brand of comedy – defining without confining?
Andrew: Disgusting smut. Next question.
Leah: I don’t think I would even call what Andrew does comedy. Unless you consider humping stools comedy. Is that a brand?
A.D.: Tell me a little bit about each of your versions as to how this tour came together, and why? Longtime coming or sudden rush/impromptu decision?
Andrew: We had been talking about touring together for a long time and we had done a few smaller tours in the past, but it was prior to having a fan base, so those had a very different feel.
Leah: We did one a little over a year ago where we were struggling to get any audience at all. But with this tour we have had people lining up around the block and selling out clubs. It’s truly surreal how quickly things can change. It’s been a dream come true.
A.D.: I’m not asking for you to tell me jokes, but what can you tell me about what will happen on stage as you both have such different approaches to comedy/comic styles? What are each of your obsessions? Will you do your separate styles or have you somehow merged them for this tour?
Leah: We each do our sets individually and then we do a Q&A together on stage at the end. It’s been really fun to co-headline because we can piggyback off of each other’s sets and there is a very fun, familial feeling in the room. We have pretty similar energies on stage and I think that is fun for people to tap into. Unless they hate that energy, in which case they’re in for a VERY bad time
Andrew: I’m obsessed with Taylor Swift, but I don’t talk about that on stage because I’m embarrassed.
Leah: I’m obsessed with telling everyone that Andrew is obsessed with Taylor Swift.
Andrew: You know what? I take it back. Tell the world. Scream it from the rooftops. I love Taylor Swift. Haters gonna hate. I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake it off, shake it off, yeah.
A.D.: If this Sibling Tour screws up, will you never speak to each other again?
Andrew: We’ve been on the road together for a week. Trust me, we’re already not speaking.
Leah: Oh, did you hear something? I think there was a gust of wind.
A.D.: What do you believe is the future of how social media such as TikTok and Instagram is changing comedy?
Andrew: Funny that you should ask because I was just in a group thread with three comic friends debating this very issue. With any kind of change, there are going to be positives and negatives and this is no exception. I think the negative is that social media is tailoring people’s acts to crowd work, which in turn changes the perception of viewers that comedy is – first and foremost – an interactive art form. This leads to more heckling and comics tailoring their acts to fit an Instagram reel as opposed to focusing on the comedy for its own sake. The positive is that it provides a more direct line between the performer and the audience and allows people like Leah to have a road to success that she might not have otherwise had. And in my opinion that far outweighs the negative.
Leah: Mediums are always going to change and I think it’s a human instinct to rail against change because it feels scary and destabilizing. But the thing that I love about TikTok is that in many ways it has democratized comedy so that a person who maybe has not had previous access can all of a sudden have a real audience. From the comfort of their living room. And that can translate into a real career. Personally, I love the way social media is changing comedy because TikTok has opened doors for me that I’ve been struggling to open for over a decade
A.D.: Any final words or room for ranting?
Andrew: Stop talking during comedy shows! When you yell out and heckle, you’re not “helping the show.” That’s a common misconception because when it happens, a good comedian can turn it into a hilarious moment, but it’s because they are skilled at their craft, not because you need attention. That person is not helping, they’re hurting.
Leah: If you don’t want me to scream at you during your set, why don’t you just say it to my face, Andrew?
Andrew: Because we’re not speaking right now.
Leah: Oh, one more thing! Listen to the podcast we just released this week: “The Rudicks Are Home: A Sister/Brother Podcast” and leave us a 5-star review on itunes!
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