At HelloFlo, we know a thing or two about funny videos (we’re looking at you, “Camp Gyno” and “First Moon Party”), so when comedian Victoria Elena Nones came to us with her hilarious Tampon Rap, we knew it was a winner.
Check out the video above, and also read below as Nones tells us more about the video, the creative process, and her life as a comedian.
Before we even get into the video, can you tell us a little bit about how you got into comedy, especially musical comedy?
Victoria Elena Nones: I come from 17 years of musical theater and was always playing comedic roles throughout my childhood, high school, and my 20s. In college, I started to realize that the musical theater roles for females are very limiting. Women are basically relegated to two, one dimensional “types” in almost all musical theater scripts – older, ridiculous, possibly overweight character role or young, naive, ingenue role. Where were the rest of the women who I knew existed that didn’t fit into those two cookie cutter molds, including myself? Nowhere. That’s why I started writing and directing a lot in college.
By writing my own material, I discovered that I had so much more fun developing and producing content that was my own. It represented me, women I knew, and was joyful to be a part of. Naturally, singing, writing music, and musical comedy were what thrilled me the most. I moved to Chicago in 2011 to get some professional training at Second City and Improv Olympic, and the rest, as they say, is history.
What inspired you to create the Tampon Rap, and what was the writing process like?
VEN: There was a fantastic, very opinionated, highly radical and feminist book I read by Inga Muscio. (Its title is Cunt but I don’t know if that should be mentioned since it’s a strong stigmatized word – which is exactly why she titled it that: to reclaim the word in the same way that gay community reclaimed “queer” and other communities/marginalized groups often reclaim words that are negative and turn them into a positive.)
In the book, Inga has an extensive chapter about women’s periods. She discussed the ideas of celebrating them instead of shaming them and cracked my world open. Her ideas inspired me and I wanted to find a fun way to share that sentiment with others.
So when we break that idea of shaming periods down into our day to day lives as modern women, one of the things I noticed about myself and other women is this need to literally hide your tampon everywhere you go. Whether you’re at school, work, a dinner date, or anywhere public. I see it all the time! And I find myself doing it too. Women sneak or hide their tampons/pads in their purse or pocket when they go to the bathroom. Why?! Why are we ashamed of having a period when every single woman has one? EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US? Ridiculous, right? So, I thought, wouldn’t it be fun if we lived in a world where women could flaunt their tampons and being on our periods were not only okay, but very positive. And thus, The Tampon Rap was born.
As far as the genre and lyrics, I played with a few different ideas about tampons. Maybe it could be a tampon party? As I started writing the verses, they felt very verbal in a rap type of flow and I rolled with it. The Tampon Rap has had a few different versions since I originally wrote it a few years ago. I’ve performed it all over and it’s fun to sometimes discover new things in the moment when performing it live. I often will create new lyrics in the moment through improv and then keep ones that I love. It’s one of the beautiful things about being a woman who writes her own material – I can change or adjust it anytime I like – and I don’t have to be a one dimensional woman of musical theater.
What’s your favorite lyric of the song?
VEN: I love the lyric, “You don’t respect yourself.” I think it’s just a funny sentiment to think that women who try to save money when caring for their vaginas don’t respect themselves. Of course that’s an exaggeration (comedy) and every woman has the right to use whatever product she wants for her period – even if she needs to save a couple dollars.
What do you hope women (especially young women) take away from it?
VEN: I really hope that young women will start to feel comfortable having their periods, talking about their periods, and stop hiding their tampons/pads/diva cups – anytime, any place. We are ALL going through this monthly cycle. It’s time to celebrate it and stop shaming it. I hope young women can get a laugh and also recognize that they’re not alone no matter how strange or embarrassing the period they’ve experienced. We’ve all been there ladies.
If you could tell your young, pubescent self anything, what would it be?
VEN: I would tell myself to love myself exactly as I am. I’d also say, “Hey Vicki (my nickname), stop consuming so much negative media that makes you feel bad about yourself and go do something more productive with that beautiful brain. Spend time with friends who make you laugh, create a new piece of art, dream about your future, and allow yourself to feel good instead of spending so much time trying to fit in. It’s actually better to fit out. That’s a new term – I’ve just coined it this moment – you’re welcome Urban Dictionary.”
I’d also say to myself – the pre-teen and teen years are very hard with all the hormones coursing through you, and you have the rest of your life to be an adult. So please, enjoy being this young because you only get it once. Stop spending so much time trying to be a grown up, focusing on your appearance, being boy (or girl) crazy, worrying about your looks, hating yourself for not being “perfect” like the magazines and videos and culture try to tell you to be, (whatever “perfect” is) and focus your energy on the things you love and things that make you feel happy.
What advice do you have for young women hoping to break into comedy?
VEN: Tough question! There’s so much advice I would want to give any young woman wanting to write her own comedic work.
I would say, the top five most important things I could tell any young female comedian are:
- Find a mentor: Reach out to other female comedians. The community of women in comedy are very supportive and uplifting and have each other’s backs.
- Educate yourself to improve your craft: A lot of women are naturally hilarious. That said, like any art form, there are tools that can help enhance the gifts you already have. Take classes, educate yourself, hone your skills so that you can be your best. Take what you like from the teachers you have, and leave the rest.
- Find your own voice: Don’t be afraid to do what you think is funny. Everyone has a different sense of humor. Just because someone doesn’t find you funny, so what? Other people will. Write about the things that you are passionate about and don’t let anyone stop you from using your voice. Not theirs.
- Dust yourself off and try again: Write, write, re-write. Perform, perform, perform again. Do it over. Do it different .Try it this way. Try it that way. Rarely is the very first draft of something solid gold. Give yourself permission to “fail” and keep testing your material to find where your biggest laughs are. It’s okay if you don’t get laughs at first. That’s why you have to keep practicing to hone your skill set. You will find what works, and testing your material on audiences at open mics or in front of friends/family can help you with that.
- Make yourself laugh: If you are laughing in hysterics over your lyrics, your sketch, your standup, your joke – then odds are someone else will too. A great way to gage if it’s funny – are you laughing at the idea?
Where do you see yourself in the future?
VEN: I would like to be an example of success to inspire and empower women. I’d like to help women understand that they can achieve whatever they set their heart on, and they can do it themselves by seeking out opportunities. 10 years from now, I see myself running a non0profit organization that gets women’s voices into comedy and film so that we have a more diverse array of voices in our cultural narratives and mass media.