If art holds a mirror up to reality, we need no further proof that geek culture has gone mainstream than the number of comedies parodying it. Now the Seattle tech scene is getting its own satire, somewhere between ‘Silicon Valley,’ ‘Portlandia,’ and ‘Office Space.’
On Feb. 26, Seattle-based comedian Bridget Quigg, is launching a one-woman show called ‘Techlandia‘ at Theater Schmeater in Seattle. The performance will feature jokes, songs, games, and real videos from the tech industry, during its eight-night run.
“The tech industry allows for a lot of odd behavior from its employees, like riding tricycles to meetings. Not to mention all the lavish, goofy benefits like seven kinds of M&Ms and full bars on site. It’s a world filled with quirks that are very easy to roast,” said Quigg.
Quigg is a Stanford grad with more than a decade of experience working for startups. Techlandia will be her fifth one-woman show. Last year she wrote and starred in the sold-out comedy ‘Oh, Seattle!’ a parody of the Emerald City’s quirky affectations.
We caught up with Quigg to talk about her experience in tech, geek culture, and the show.
GW: What’s your experience in tech?
Bridget Quigg: I started out at HealthTalk.com in 2004 as a junior copywriter. That was a very newspaper title and a lot of my bosses were newspaper folks moving to the web. I eventually became the “voice of the website.” This was a new concept, and Google rankings and SEO were just starting to become huge for marketers. From HealthTalk, I went to PayScale and became a content strategist, which I thought was a joke title when my boss gave it to me, though now it’s everywhere. Next was Socrata then, most recently, I was director of content marketing at Simply Measured. I’m all about startups, all of the time, and that’s clear when you watch the show. I love the energy and speed at a startup.
GW: How long have you been doing Techlandia?
Quigg: I’m honored that you think it has been around a while. It’s brand new! The upcoming run is three weeks. Hopefully, it will do well and I can either extend the run or take it to other cities. This is my fifth one-woman show. I’ve been doing music and comedy in Seattle since 2005.
GW: Where did you get the idea?
Quigg: Where I get all of my ideas. There’s this screen in my head (I’m not joking) that has words like “yes,” “no,” “crazy,” “home,” and other bits of advice for me throughout my waking hours. It’s also where the title for each one of my shows has popped up and stayed until I would pay attention to it. I literally saw “Techlandia” and thought, “Okay, let me do some writing.”
GW: Do you have a sample joke or two?
Quigg: Knock, knock…just kidding. I play a lot of characters. I can’t say there are really “jokes.” I poke fun at the agile method, company founders, engineers “quirks,” stressed-out recruiters, and more.
One of the characters takes the audience on a tour of a small, tech office space and she is hilarious because she’s so sincere and enthusiastic. For example, she explains how there’s no HR department but they’re a scrappy team so the head of finance just went through a “how to listen” course and can talk to you about your feelings and medical benefits when he’s not busy looking at spreadsheets. That is a startup reality that I’ve always found funny. It happens all the time.
GW: Is there any specific experience from your time in tech that you’ve worked into the show?
Quigg: The whole show is a tribute to my time in tech. I wrote 24 pages of material and have whittled it down to 18. There’s so much to write about because you’re dealing with humans who are working at full tilt and showing all kinds of behaviors, myself included. I suppose that the enormous volume of snacks and booze gets mentioned a few times. There is a snack bar to fit every allergy or diet trend and there is always, always, always whiskey.
GW: Do you think geek culture is changing?
Quigg: I think it is always changing. Right now, I’m meeting many more young women who are engineers. I love that trend. I spoke at a GirlGeek dinner the other night and, wow, what a bright, confident group of tech women. I was thrilled and impressed.
Besides that, the development of big tech in Seattle’s urban center feels very different than when the tech epicenter was Redmond. As a result, living in the city is getting prohibitively expensive for more and more people, except for those earning tech-level salaries. That shift pains me but I don’t see it changing anytime soon.
GW: Does your routine touch on the difference between the Silicon Valley and Seattle tech worlds?
Quigg: No. I went to school in the Bay Area and have friends working down there, but I don’t claim any great knowledge on the differences between Seattle and Silicon Valley. I do know that being stressed out and in a hurry hasn’t ever been cool in Seattle. I see that as a very Silicon Valley, high-status behavior that is creeping up here.
GW: Is there anything else you think our readers should know about your show?
Quigg: It’s funny!!! Laughter is healthy so come watch the show.
And, you don’t have to be in tech to get the material – not at all. What I’m doing is describing and explaining, which is plenty funny. People who are not familiar with tech can follow along. And, people who are in tech will be thinking, “Oh, geez, that is so true.” Everyone laughs. Everyone wins. Come on out!
Techlandia, a one-woman show by Bridget Quigg, starts its eight-night run on Friday, Feb. 26, at Theater Schmeater in Seattle. Tickets are available on Brown Paper Tickets. For more Pacific Northwest tech events, see the GeekWire Calendar.