Charlotte comedian and disarmingly efficient email responder Mimi Benfield is truly a Gay of Sunshine. She’s funny, candid and runs a Twitter page that’s the perfect place to “accidentally” lose a couple of hours when you really should be responding to emails — or using the aforementioned Twitter page as a mere jumping-off point for a pre-interview bio. In half a decade onstage she’s conquered venues from Ontario to Hawaii and beyond, embarked upon multiple comedy tours and participated in events alongside industry icons like Margaret Cho. A woman of rare vision, she combined twin passions for humor and tattoos in the groundbreaking “Laugh Ink,” and in one recent podcast tackled the tough and timely issue of ghost wrestlers (or was it wrestling ghosts?). Here, Benfield tells qnotes why her desert-island media picks would include some of the best and worst of human creation, what it feels like to have proved her elementary school classmates right, and how she’s redefining “Netflix and chill.”
Which of your achievements are you most proud of?
Staying dedicated to comedy and making people feel good. Making others happy makes me happy and when I can achieve that I feel very fulfilled.
What are you passionate about?
Performing comedy. I’ve wanted to do this since I was a little girl and saw Paula Poundstone on television.
What helps you relax when you’re feeling stressed?
My dog, Fiona. I take her nearly everywhere with me when I’m travelling. While I love being on stage I wouldn’t say it’s relaxing. I definitely enjoy staying in with Fiona and Netflix.
What cheers you up when you’re feeling down?
Obviously Fiona, but I’ve always enjoyed getting out stress at open mics with my comedy family.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“Never be complacent.” — Anthony Crawford
How do you spend your free time?
Being lazy with Fiona or exploring spooky/beautiful places with my main dude, Victoria. We’re big fans of ghostly stuff.
We’ve all heard that smell is the sense most strongly tied to memory. What scents do you find evocative?
Elizabeth Taylor perfumes remind me of my late mother, and fried chicken reminds me of the days before I became a vegetarian.
If you won a multi-million-dollar jackpot, what would you do with the money?
I’d donate a decent portion to a variety of causes. Disaster relief funds, victims of violence, women’s rights and LGBTQ causes…the list is long. I’d pay off my house, hire someone to take care of my aunt and start travelling the country hitting up the comedy scenes in different cities.
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
Night owl. I usually don’t even leave my house until afternoon.
What household chore do you avoid at all costs?
Vacuuming. The sound is like nails on a chalkboard to my ears.
What possessions do you cherish most?
I wouldn’t call Fiona a “possession,” but I would be lost without her. I also have a few house plants from my mother’s funeral that I would save from a fire before any valuables.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A comedian. I know that sounds cheesy, but I remember in the third grade the whole class passed around papers with each student’s name and we wrote what we thought that kid would be when they grew up. I’d say over 90 percent said “comedian” for me and the rest said “teacher.”
If you could live in any time, past or future, anywhere in the world, what would you choose?
Could I just go back to right before puberty and start over? Probably in NYC or California. I definitely wouldn’t go to the past because…well…because I’m a gay woman. It’s still not super great for us.
What do you like most about yourself?
That I refuse to stay sad about things. My parents raised me to be a happy person; that’s all they really wanted for me. I want others to feel the same way so I’m making a career out of that goal.
What aspect of yourself would you like to change?
My thighs? I want to be a better person and a better comic. That’s an attainable change.
For the rest of your life, you can read one book, listen to one album, and watch one movie. Which do you choose?
That sounds awful! One book? “Twilight”…just kidding. Probably the “Tibetan Book of the Dead” to keep me grounded. For the album, I want to say Fiona Apple because she’s my favorite, but I wouldn’t want to be gloomy all the time, so I’ll say Ghostland Observatory’s “Robotique Majestique.” One movie is a really hard decision. I’m probably going to get some hate for this because it’s considered one of the worst films of all time, but “Freddy Got Fingered.” It’s so ridiculous, and I love it. “Daddy would you like some sausage?”
Imagine traveling somewhere incredibly remote, with no way of contacting the outside world. Are you more thrilled or petrified?
Petrified. I need Google to survive.
If you met yourself, do you think you’d be your friend?
Hell yeah! I love all my personalities.
What have you always wanted to do, be, or learn, but never gotten around to?
Everything! I’m looking forward to the rest of this life. Learning and experiencing new and different things is my favorite thing to do. I have one script tattoo that reads “I just want to feel everything, I just want to be everything.” — Fiona Apple
And finally, how would you like to be remembered?
I’m honestly happy being remembered at all, but making people laugh and feel good about things they may not have been comfortable with beforehand is such a lovely feeling.