October is breast cancer awareness month and while this horrific disease and the awareness surrounding it should not be limited to one month out of the year, we will happily take it as an excuse to share empowering stories from women who have walked the journey themselves and who are using it to help others.
Comedian Amy Marcs is one of those women who isn’t afraid to put her rack on display…in the form of a one-woman stand-up show about having breast cancer. Her show ‘Nice T*ts!’ first launched in 2014 and every night she performed was sold out. So she is bringing it back to the stage again in New York City for a series of encore performances at the Peoples’ Improv Theater on October 5, 11, 25 & 29th.
Her comedy takes the audience on her journey of finding out she had breast cancer at a time when everything was going so well, then having to schedule doctors appointments, support groups, and come to terms with the fact that her once-perfect perky breasts were about to get a major reconstruction (not in the typical Hollywood way).
We have seen comedy being used as a powerful vehicle to share important, often serious messages that allows audiences to think about something without being preached at. It is a genius way to bring people into an intimate space with you, and when Tig Notaro went through the exact same situation, her candor and self-deprecating humor wont her legions of fans almost overnight.
We had the chance to chat one-on-one with Amy to learn more about her experience with breast cancer, what we need to know to be a better supporter, and of course her show.
Why is October/Breast Cancer Awareness month important to you?
This month is important to me for so many reasons. For starters, I am a breast cancer survivor. I celebrate my six year anniversary of being cancer free this October 13th. I lost my mother to this disease when I was 17 and my mom was only 51. I know the impact and toll breast cancer can have on an individual and their loved ones, and it is my wish that we find a cure and put an end to all this suffering.
Give us the rundown of the Amy Marcs story – what is your background and how did you get to where you are today?
I grew up on Long Island and moved to NYC after graduating from college to pursue my dream of becoming an actress. I have been here ever since. I am an actress and voice over artist signed with The Don Buchwald Agency, my voice has been heard on many national network television, promo, and political campaigns. I teach acting at the New York Conservatory of Dramatic Arts as well as having a successful private coaching practice. I recently wrote and performed in my one woman show Nice T!ts which is returning this month to The PIT for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Tell us about your comedy show “Nice T*ts!” and where the idea came from?
Six years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and while I was healing I started journaling about my experience. Two years later I decided to turn those writings into a one woman show. Nice T!ts is the story of my undergoing a double mastectomy, and searching for the perfect pair of new boobs. My story is about the resiliency of the human spirit, and finding self-acceptance, love and hope in a very traumatic situation. And of course it is all told through humor, because I believe that is one of the best healing tools we have.
Having breast cancer is a very serious issue, yet you are using comedy to raise awareness. Why do you feel this is an effective method?
I believe that once you get people laughing, they are more open and receptive. Comedy allows you to take the uncomfortable and make it comfortable. The power of laughter should never be underestimated.
What are some stats on breast cancer our readers should know about?
Well, I’m not a Dr. so I don’t know how many stats I have, but I think many people feel that if you don’t have a family history then you’re safe. Not true, family history only accounts for about 15 percent of breast cancers. No one is immune to this disease. Get checked. Early detection is vital.
You performed this show last year and it was sold out! What are you hoping audiences this year will take away?
Well, I hope people get what they need from seeing my show. I hope it is a personal experience for everyone. I hope it helps people realize how much stronger they are, then they think. I hope it helps people realize that we all have the capacity to triumph over adversity. And I hope people remember how funny it was. How healing laughter is.
Women are already under so much pressure from the media to look a certain way, and those who have suffered from or are suffering with breast cancer can often feel very isolated with their situation. How would you encourage them not to feel alone?
I think it is so important for women to not isolate, to reach out to other women who have been through this. There is an amazing sisterhood with this disease. I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of people who reached out to me that I didn’t know. Support groups, therapy, ask your Dr. for other patients that went through the same procedure, that are of a similar age, as that is also really important. I went to yoga for women with breast cancer. That was extremely helpful to me. There are so many wonderful organizations out there, we are not meant to go through this alone.
What are some things people should NEVER say to a breast cancer survivor or sufferer?
I’m going to turn that question around and say what you should say to someone with breast cancer. Ask them “How can I help” Ask what do you need? Listen. Offer to go to their Doctors appointments with them, offer to cook them a meal. Let them know you are there for them.
Another comedian Tig Notaro gained national attention after talking about her illness in a standup show. Why do you think audiences are drawn to these types of topics in comedy shows?
I think comedy creates a safe space to talk about these topics. As I said before, comedy makes the uncomfortable comfortable.
This is a touchy, controversial but very important topic – Planned Parenthood. One of the great services they offer are breast screenings which are vital to women’s health. Since you have been involved in political campaigns, how do you view the way this issue is being treated by certain politicians?
I stand with Planned Parenthood and I find this whole issue to be extremely upsetting. These services are vital to a woman’s health!
If you could give a message to all the people out there in the government trying to defund a life-saving medical service for women, what would it be?
I don’t think you could print the exact words that I would like to use…
What do you hope audiences will remember the most about your show and your message?
Hope. That we can all make it through a difficult time and find our way to the other side. Laughter. How it is one of the best medicines we have.
Finally, what makes you a powerful woman?
It really depends on how you define powerful. I think of myself as extremely strong and resilient. I have experienced some hardships in my life. I have overcome those difficulties, and they have made me a more loving and compassionate woman. I live from a place of gratitude. I do what I love, and don’t conform to the status quo. I chose to live life fully, with an open heart, to be present for all of the moments in my life. I do not answer to fear. I see each new day as a gift. I would say all that would make me quite a powerful woman.
Take a look at a sneak preview of what to expect from Amy’s show. To get information about tickets and show times, click here.