Interview: Maggie Crane Talks about the Inspiration Behind Her New Show SIDE BY SIDE at Brooklyn Comedy Collective

This comedic solo show about death and disability is playing Thursday January 18th.

By: Jan. 17, 2024
Interview: Maggie Crane Talks about the Inspiration Behind Her New Show SIDE BY SIDE at Brooklyn Comedy Collective

Interview: Maggie Crane Talks about the Inspiration Behind Her New Show SIDE BY SIDE at Brooklyn Comedy Collective

RK: Can you tell me a bit about the show?

MC: Side by Side is a stand-up special about growing up with my older brother Aiden, who was profoundly disabled. He was a wheelchair user. He was blind. He was developmentally disabled. And because he was my older brother, I grew up with him. So as a kid, it was very much like, everyone's life is like this.

And then as you get older, you realize, the world is very much not built for someone like my brother. So it's about growing up with him in the disability community and I sort of bookend it by talking about my pre-teen obsession with emo music, but especially Panic! At The Disco. So yeah, it's a stand-up special about growing up with my older brother.

RK: Where did you get the inspiration to take that and turn it into a solo show?

MC: I’ve been doing stand-up for a long time and I never really talked about my brother or growing up with my brother, because it was one of those topics that when you're doing a ten to 15 minute set, it's sort of hard to throw in like, here's this joke about growing up with my older brother who is disabled and he died.

Like people get really upset and I did not have the time to contextualize things, so I was like, okay, let me make this its own show. Let me try to get people on my side and then sort of be able to talk about all this stuff. And also, I was on this beloved stand-up show called We Still Like You, and I told a story about meeting Brendon Urie from Panic! At The Disco when I was like 23, and I absolutely had like a meltdown. And after that, I was like, I could sort of tie all this together. So that was the inspo.

RK: What was the process like for you of working out the material in a longer form, and on such a sensitive topic?

MC: Like any stand-up really starts, I would go to open mics and do some of these jokes and it didn't really work that well because again, like I said, people were not down for my 3 minutes on stage being like, “My brother who died…”

And then, I did sort of a crazy thing where I booked myself a show at Life World, this old venue that is amazing but is gone now. I just booked myself a date and I was like, okay, I have a date I'm promoting. I have to have something written. I was like, really working against the clock.

It was sort of a crazy thing to do, but I wrote it all out and then I performed it. And then from there I got my my director attached, Annalisa Plumb, and we started rehearsing it as more of a theater piece. It really started to come together but it was a hilarious process at first because I was really unsure if it would work or not. And then when it did, I was like, okay, this has legs.

RK: What’s your final end goal for the show?

MC: The two angles that I'm always sort of working towards are, obviously, I want to tape it as a special someday, and I'd like to do a New York City run. And we're working towards that. We have a few places in mind. We're talking to some theaters. But yeah, that's, that's the dream to do a true New York City off-Broadway run. Or Broadway–I’ll say it. I’m manifesting. And then to tape it as a special for somebody.

RK: What’s your advice for anyone who might want to take a similar experience and turn it into a solo show or something like that?

MC: My only advice is that you just put it up. Like, just get yourself that date, start promoting it and force yourself to do it. One of the hardest things in any art form or performance is writing it and getting it up on its feet. But if you sort of force yourself into it, you have to do it.

It sounds like totally crazy, but I think without doing that, I would've been thinking too hard. I would have been like, this is bad. Maybe I'll put it up some day. But if you just sort of force it, I think that's a fair way to do it.

RK: Who would you say should come out and see the show?

MC: I mean, obviously everyone; I want to sell some damn tickets! [laughing] But I think it's really for everyone. That's been a really cool part of doing the show is that after the show I'll have people come up to me and be like, I have a disabled sibling or a disabled family member or this really spoke to me on that level.

And that's always such a nice moment to have. I'll have people come up to me and be like, “Oh my God, I love Panic! At The Disco, too.” So, you know, there's something for everyone. It's about family. It's about being an embarrassing pre-teen. And I think everyone can relate to that in some way.

Note: this conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.

You can see Maggie Crane's Side by Side this Thursday, January 18th at the Brooklyn Comedy Collective. Tickets are available here.

Side by Side is directed by Annalisa Plumb (@annalisaplumb) and produced by Alexa Spiegel (