Rowan Young is #MadeForKnoxville.

Closet comic turned open mic regular, Rowan built her own stage to shake up Knoxville’s comedy scene.

Rowan wasn’t satisfied with the bland comedy shows that were available in Knoxville, so she busted onto the scene… with a few desk lamps and a handbuilt stage. She had been writing her own jokes for years but was pushed to dream of her own perfect comedy show after a frustrating experience at someone else’s show. Along with her friend Emaleigh, Rowan riffed off the wisdom of Shirley Chisholm: “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” They began crafting their own experience by literally building the stage to produce their own shows. They have thoughtfully put together a team of local comics and take pride in being a safe place for all people. 

Having officially formed the Tiny Stage Comedy brand during the pandemic, Rowan and her troupe are now bringing a monthly dose of laughter and passion for the art of comedy to locally owned Knoxville businesses. Check their list of events to see where they will pop up next! 

“We are lucky enough to get to work with some of our favorite local businesses in town to put on monthly shows for our community who we dearly love.”

In Their Own Words…

I was born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee. In 2018, I was working a 9-5 job and not leaving my house much. I was secretly writing jokes to cope with my depression. I saw a chalk board for a comedy open mic at The Casual Pint. After some convincing from a friend, I went to watch. I experienced a slew of white guys saying nothing unexpected or particularly interesting. I decided I could do it better. After my first open mic, I was hooked. I have been performing multiple times a week since then, regionally and now all over the US. I’ve gotten to open for comics I’m a fan of, I’ve been named Knoxville’s Finest comic by Blank magazine two times, but most importantly, I have met all of my best friends through this art form that we are all passionate about.

How did it all begin?

After a particularly frustrating show where the host and audience were disrespectful, my best friend Emaleigh and I were so frustrated that it moved us to action. We crafted a vision for what our perfect show would look like. We enlisted our friends to help out. We used three desk lamps as our first spotlight!

Summer Squirtfest at Central Cinema sold out and that is when I realized that I found my life’s work. Emaleigh and I continued to produce shows locally until the pandemic hit. We used that time to regroup and build a brand for our vision. That is where Tiny Stage Comedy originated. We built a stage, painted it purple, and started doing pop up shows (including a few in my backyard). Now we are lucky enough to get to work with some of our favorite local businesses in town to put on monthly shows for our community who we dearly love.

What are some lessons you have learned?

Oh, what a loaded question! Every day I learn new lessons, but here are a few important ones- 

-Connections are key. I never liked networking, but after years of being in the game I can say that it is crucial. Finding ways to network and make connections as my authentic self has proven to be one of my greatest assets. Not only is word of mouth the best advertisement, but you never know who might be able to guide you in the right direction. 

-It is imperative to care for your body and physical health. It can be easy for me to work from sunrise to sundown and to center all of my choices around my goals. However, that can lead to a crash. To sustain my energy, therapy, movement and diet are things that I monitor closely when my mood or energy shifts. 

-Process over progress and learning to accept the imperfections. Learning that the daily grind can be a part of the beauty and the fun of it all has been beneficial in helping me to loosen up. Each moment can’t be the thrill of the packed out, killer show. Learning to find joy in the more mundane aspects of my work has brought me a great amount of peace. 


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