A ray of sunshine with a dark sense of humor, Onicia Muller knows how to weave a hilarious tale about the human condition with a thoughtfulness that demands deep consideration. The Chicago-based comedian/producer/writer travelled from the Caribbean island paradise of St. Maarten to our city by the lake to attend grad school at Northwestern while pursuing a practical education by performing live on stage.
Drawn to comedy as a way to produce and perform her own material, Muller has quickly made a name for herself as a fresh face with unique takes on everything from relationships to social media to everyone’s favorite food…avocados. She first took the stand-up stage at the Laugh Factory’s Open Mic in 2015, finding a new platform – and checking off a bucket list goal – in the process.
“I did it, and I didn’t bomb,” said Muller. “I didn’t have money to produce movies or plays, so I thought that I could do stand-up and storytelling because it’s a great way to share a story with people and make them feel good without needing any funding. I can just share the story.”
Sharing stories is central to Muller’s art in all its forms. From her advice blog series “Hey, Onicia” to her audio drama “Sucker’s Garden” – which Muller created with her friend Kimberly Meyers – to her ongoing column “Just Being Funny” in St. Maarten’s Daily Herald, Muller mines her own life for universal truths to share with audiences all over the world.
“I write about things that are funny in hindsight,” she said. “’Just Being Funny’ is a dream come true because I keep this diary, and I would wonder why I’m keeping my hurt in all these archives. It’s almost like I knew that someday I would need all these receipts. And now the Daily Herald pays me for my receipts (laughs).”
Digging through past pain may not sound fun to most people – and it doesn’t to Muller either – but the comedian feels most at ease in uneasy situations. As a morning person and an introvert, stand-up comedy wasn’t an obvious career path, but she is drawn to it – and audiences are drawn to her – nonetheless.
“I feel like I’m comfortable being uncomfortable,” she explained. “I came from a small island, and I’m always pushing myself into a bigger pond then and into an even bigger pond. By the time I become a medium-sized fish, I always move to a bigger pond.”
Muller will keep moving to larger ponds until she completes what she jokingly refers to as her “plan for world domination.”
“My comedy dream is that I want to be famous enough that I can produce my one-hour special at a resort in the Caribbean in the afternoon around 3 p.m. It will be me and all the seniors poolside,” she said with a laugh. “And, it’s going to be perfect because it will have Caribbean weather (which I love), people (which I love) and it will be during my personal happy hour. After my set, we can have snacks and swim in the pool.”
She added, “I don’t know why more hotels don’t have comedians perform afternoon gigs – book me!”
Final Five Questions with Onicia Muller
What makes you laugh?
I cannot resist a pun, first of all. And sometimes dark things. Not like a comedian making a rape joke, but my current dark joke that makes me laugh is, “If you’re married, you have significantly increased your chances of waking up next to a dead person. You think you get married for the happy mornings, but it’s really just a countdown to one really bad morning (laughs).” I think that’s funny.
Do you have a favorite joke either that you do or you love from another comedian?
There’s a meme on the internet with a dad in the driver’s seat and then a dog kind of looking at the kids in the backseat saying, “I am no longer the family pet. Your dad and I have now taken the next step in our relationship.” I feel like anyone who has a stepparent will laugh at that joke.
What establishments or landmarks would you recommend for someone to visit in Chicago?
I like Adler Planetarium because you, too, can do science. I love it because it’s so interactive. Go in the morning because they have all the extra cards open. And I love Pequod’s pizza.
Do you have any comedy recommendations to share with the world?
I like to recommend The Kates. Every time I take one of my friends to see a Kates show, whether it’s at the Book Cellar or the Laugh Factory, people are always surprised by how funny everyone is and how women tell jokes on so many different topics. Go see The Kates.
What makes you Rebellious?
You know what makes me Rebellious – The fact that I am comfortable being uncomfortable. That’s how I’ve done everything that is cool in my life. I was alone in this playground, but I decided that I still want to be here because I want to swing. I want to learn screenwriting, so yes I will move to a country across the globe. Yeah!