Mindy introduced me to Katy. They met at a Ladies' happy hour event and Katy had her cracking up. A friendship ensued and now here we are. I met Katy at her home and we chatted in her living room. Katy's a comedian but, fair warning, you'll have to make plans to see her live because she didn't tell any jokes during our interview. She's also a DJ, but you'll need to go to Maverick's to scratch that particular itch as we also didn't do any dancing. We did have a lovely conversation, which you can read and listen to below. She seems to be someone who says Yes! often. And she seems to hold space for our differences while focusing, instead, on what we have in common. Post-recording, Katy shared some material with me, but I'm yet to see her perform. Maybe I'll see you at her next gig?
Who are you and how would you describe yourself?
I am Katy Ipock. I am a comedian/producer and also a DJ at Maverick's Bar and Grill. I consider myself a very technical introvert in a sense that I don't get energy from hanging out with people; I get it from hanging out by myself. But a lot of people would be confused by that 'cause everything I do career-wise is very extroverted. I'm a wife. I'm a mom. I like to go find waterfalls in my spare time - I've seen 50 of them so far. And I'm kind of a nerd. I'm not your typical Bendite, for sure. I'm very much a meat eater. A little right leaning, but not enough to be creepy. My family's a lot of hunters. I've never once been on a paddle board.
What matters to you?
Bringing joy to other people I think is what does it. 'Cause everything I do kind of ends up coming from a point of making other people happy. The other night I was DJ at Maverick's and I was playing a song and everyone was line dancing and I started to cry really happy tears because I realized that I had created an environment for all these people to create a memory and have a really good time. And I think I get that same feeling from comedy. I don't chase the laughter just because I want validation, although that's why every comedian starts doing comedy. But I like the idea that I can get people to find joy and laughter in what they do.
I did public speaking in high school and my mother had always been on my case about how public speaking is a skill and if you don't use it, you're gonna lose it. I knew I was never gonna go into politics 'cause I don't have a clean enough mouth. And I was never gonna become a motivational speaker 'cause my life is not that motivating. It's very basic and I haven't dealt with that much adversity. Like, I'm not gonna be a motivational speaker. So I just kind of wrote all that off. And then I saw an advertisement for Bend Comedy's open mic and just decided to try it - kind of like an amusement park ride. Just see what it's like, have some fun, whatever. And then I booked two paid gigs off my first open mic and have been pretty much just saying nothing but yes to opportunities for the last two years.
And then DJing, I danced at Maverick's for four or five years and then their DJ last year had decided that he was ready to do something else - and I don't blame him. I just went, Hey, by the way, I'd love a chance to talk about doing it. And the next week they were like, Hey, you're our DJ. You start tomorrow. So, that's how I started that.
What do we mean to each other?
I think in the end, it's support. We're all some sort of support for each other. Whether it's a romantic relationship, a platonic relationship, a familial relationship, it's all about who makes you feel supported and loved and comforted. I think we all are each other's support structures.
What does community mean to you?
I think there is very much something to the idea that you become who you're around. And your community really influences who you are. Community influences your life and the direction that it goes. Not in like a real judgy, like don't hang out with these people sort of way, but if you can find the people around you that emulate what you want from life and the vibe and the attitude, if you surround yourself with those people and create a community of those people around you, then you'll start feeling that vibe and going that direction. And I really enjoy the people that I'm surrounded with 'cause they're all motivated and striving for things and dreamers and creators and entrepreneurs. And so I'm getting that spark and that vibe and, you know, grasping for the hustle like everybody else. And I would hope that I provide the same thing to my community. Hoping to bring that positivity, that sense of humor, that wit, really inappropriate jokes (laughs) - hoping to kind of help other people live a more light-hearted life. I hope that's what I bring to my circle, at least.
What do you think about our differences?
I think differences are a beautiful thing. Especially once you start writing enough comedy, you start finding a sense of humor about everything and you start opening up your mind about things you might not have thought about before. So, I love differences. I love talking to people who have a difference of opinion and have a different sense of direction. And in terms of politics and racism, it's the one thing that I don't understand about quote/unquote the right. If we're all about freedom and wanting the government to stay out of our business, then the government should be staying out of everybody's business. You know, it doesn't matter to me who's marrying who - and it shouldn't. We should just love each other. And it's so sad to see people so focused on differences when that's what makes the human race wonderful. If everyone was the same exact person, life would be so boring. I always think about the movie The Incredibles - the kids' movie. And, of course, I think about it because it's one of my husband's favorites. But the villain at one point says, If everybody's a superhero, then nobody could be. That's so profound. But it's the same thing with differences. We have to have differences to have vibrance and color in our life and to experience new things. If everyone is the same person who has the same thought processes, then there would be no new experiences, no new conversations. As someone who used to be on a speech and debate team, I need people with other opinions so I have someone to debate with. Politely, of course.
What is your role in the fight against social injustice?
My first thought is always the Be the change you want to see in the world. If you want to see a more inclusive environment, then be a more inclusive person. And that includes people who have different opinions than yours. Even if those opinions might, in a sense, be exclusive. But showing them that love and that inclusivity and like, Yes, we have a difference of opinion, but you're still welcome here might help them see how that's modeled. I think it's so hard for everyone at this point to accept each other because everyone's so busy trying to change each other. So I'm very much a Be the change you want to see in the world. And then on a bigger kind of scale, speaking out is so important. The more voices you can have to a cause, the easier it is for everybody to listen. We can't just let other people fight the fight for us and us just hit Like on the picture. Marches, for anything - I know the March for Life is coming up - those only work if there's a ton of people there. So, you have to kind of get your hands where it can get dirty and put in the work, I guess.
What is it that creates the disparities?
I have a very distinct theory about this and it's gonna be a little ranty. I blame it all on political science degrees. I think politics turned into a career and people started making money on running campaigns, then you had all these people and all these think tanks working on not how to get the right person elected, but how to get their person elected. And so you started seeing in politics more negative campaigns, you started seeing more personal campaigns, you started seeing more focus on the really divisive issues. And that's why both the democratic and republican party are so focused on their bases and they're not focused on the people in the middle. And as that divide has gotten wider between the republicans and the democrats, and as people have worked harder and harder to get their candidates elected - not caring about what it does to the social sphere - the more that's happened to politics, the more it's happened in real life. That's why people are so quick to judge each other because we are constantly - when we are selecting our leaders - that's what we're judging people on. We're not judging on their good character. We're not judging on their work ethic. We're not judging on how they're going to represent us, we're judging them on every mistake they've ever made and whether they 100% disagree with us. Long story short, I blame political science degrees.
What is it like to be a 3rd generation Bend resident?
I've basically watched this town grow as I have grown. And part of it is exciting. I remember even early '90s, a lot of people having to go to Portland just to do school shopping 'cause there weren't that many stores here. Not that Bend was that small in the '90s, but the cooler, richer kids would still want better stuff than we had at the mall. So some of it's exciting. You know, as a mom with a special needs child, it's nice to have the kind of medical interventions here that we wouldn't have if Bend was smaller. We would be going to Portland every week for occupational therapy and that kind of stuff. And that's here now. This will be sad, but it also means having to watch places that I loved in my childhood being torn down and created into other things. And that's not to say that it's good or bad, but it's just hard to watch your childhood get turned into other stuff. It's bittersweet.
If my son ends up staying here, this town will be a better support for him than it would have been if it was smaller. But I also know that it will also come with the bigger, big city challenges. I remember being able to leave my bike in my front porch and run around with my friends in the neighborhood and there was no worry at all. And if our bike got stolen, it's 'cause it was the kid down the street and it was on his grass and so we could just pick it back up. Bend is different and a lot of it's good, but some of it's not so great.
Have you felt criticized or judged or accepted with having a special needs son?
In terms of the school, the school district here is amazing. They have a program called Bridges and it's a classroom specifically designed for kids on the spectrum. And that's been fantastic. And that's something that probably wouldn't have been here if Bend was smaller. So, in terms of his education and supports for his therapies and teachers and doctors, that's fantastic. I feel like we struggle with the same thing any parent does in any city in the rest of the world. It's hard to take him to a grocery store because if he's going to have a meltdown, people don't understand and, unfortunately, when a child is acting up it's very easy for people to judge the parents and glare and roll their eyes. In that moment our son is physically feeling the pain of whatever he's going through, so we're focused on him. And we have people come tap us on the shoulders and tell us we need to take care of our kid or we need to take our kid outside or, you know, You just need to spank your kid more. (Laughs) We've had that stuff said to us. But I don't think that's different than any other community. We just, for the first time in a couple years, ate out as a family. And we hadn't done that in two years because the last time we did, we had to carry a kicking, screaming child out of Applebee's. That's embarrassing, that sucks, but we also don't want to be disruptive to other people who are trying to have a nice meal. So we put it off for two years and we just tried it again. And, luckily, we went to 9th Street Village. Nobody else was there. We played in the bus. It was perfect. It was great. It was fantastic. There's support groups here now for families like ours. There are a lot of supports here, which is fantastic. It's part of the reason why we don't leave - 'cause we have a support network and we have everything figured out here for him. But we still struggle with what I think every family struggles with. You know, the being glared at, the people not understanding. I think that's universal.
What do you want more of in your life?
Adventure, which I'm working on. In the beginning, when you have a kid, you're kind of focused on your newborn for the longest time and then, when we got his diagnosis, I was going two or three weeks without leaving the house - just being with him all the time. And matching that with kind of a struggle with body image and body negativity, I had really kind of shut myself out from the world for the longest time. And just in the last two or three years, I've embraced body positivity - started doing more things. And so now I'm looking to engage in those experiences that I kept myself from: I'm going hiking, seeking waterfalls. My goal is to see every waterfall in Oregon. Whether that will happen, I don't know. Depending on your definition, there's somewhere between 1200 and 10,000 (laughs), so I'm not holding myself to a hard fast goal, but I'd like to see as many as I can. I love trying new things and new experiences and that helps as a comedian; you have to have new experiences so you have new things to write about - it's just the nature of what we do. But if there's anything I want more of in my life, it's just adventures.
You have anything else you want to put out there?
If anyone ever wants to try stand up comedy, they should. I think anyone who even has an inkling should try it once. It is one of the greatest rollercoaster rides you will ever go on in your life. So, even if you just go up and tell a knock-knock joke, if you're interested, just do it. Super fun. Line dancing is not as nerdy as everyone thinks it is. Maverick's is not as country as everyone thinks it is, but it is country enough if you're into country. I know that's a weird mix, but it's totally true. And as a lifelong, true Bendite, to people who are just coming here - it is true, we are nicer here than you have experienced anywhere else, so help us keep it that way. And I would kind of like to apologize for any grief that you get. As locals, we've seen a lot of change. And we've experienced a lot of attitudes. And we've had developers come in... people came from out of town wanting the lifestyle we had here, but then wanting to changing to fit whatever. Anyway, I'm apologizing. If anyone gets grief, on behalf of other locals, I apologize for that grief. Just know that we are trying to adjust to the growth as much as our roads are (laughs).