A poorly-kept Texan secret is the half-joking, half-dead-serious rivalry between Houston and Dallas. It’s a superiority contest that prompts audiences to groan and giggle when Dallas is mentioned on stage at a comedy show. There’s a particular sting when popular acts visit Austin and Dallas on tour but skip over Houston — we’re so much bigger than Dallas! Our restaurant scene is amazing! We have UGK and Rothko Chapel and Ninfa’s! At the end of the day, we’re all Texans who bleed pure sweet tea, but if anyone’s counting in the tongue-in-cheek culture war against Dallas, add a new point for Houston — previous Dallas resident and comedian-yogi-producer, Janan Araujo-Siam, is now one of ours.
Though the Dallas smack-talk made her a little nervous to move here two years ago, Janan was delighted by Houston’s friendliness, culturally diverse cuisine, and endless list of fun things to do. Janan jumped feet-first into the Houston scene and is now produces JK Fridays, a monthly comedy show at Rec Room, with co-host Kari Burt. JK Fridays puts the literal spotlight on the comedy minority — people of color, LGBTQIA folks, up-and-comers, and those in the niche offering something a little bit different.
Janan embraces the identity of “different”. Instead of taking the traditional route into comedy by starting with five-minute sets at open mics, she was told by a yoga student that they would pay money to see her do jokes on stage. So, she put on two different comedy shows for the Africa Yoga Project and raised a few thousand dollars while doing a whole hour set. This off-the-grid approach is just how Janan rolls. Though she breaks the mold in so many ways, different is just her normal.
“I don’t shout about gayness from the rooftops every day — although my haircut does.” Jokes aside, Janan continues, “I treat my sexual orientation as normal as being born with brown eyes or being a cat person — I just am! And if anyone ever openly disagrees with it, that’s okay — I’m going to continue being an awesome person.”
When she’s not teaching or taking classes at BIG Power Yoga (“It is literally the best yoga studio I have ever been to in the world — no exaggeration”) or writing an actual book about the phenomenon of American yoga, Janan is probably telling jokes at Rec Room or Secret Group. Her perfect Houston day would be walking along Buffalo Bayou after hanging at coffee shops like Common Bond and Blacksmith to read and write, eating at a different restaurant for every single meal, topped off by a nightcap at Tongue-Cut Sparrow. The company she’s in doesn’t matter, either.
“I’m comfortable hanging around a bunch of lesbians or comedians or people of color or white men. In my willingness to be comfortable and even enjoy any people means I can fully express myself, who I am, and in that way find unity in all our uniqueness and differences.”
Celebrate the different by catching Janan at the next JK Fridays on March 22nd at Rec Room.