The F-Word: Bombs Away 

Bouncing back from failure 


Kenice Mobley

The daytime stand-up gig paid $30, barely enough to cover Kenice Mobley’s gas from Boston to Maine.

“I had my suspicions,” she says of the show, booked less than two years into her comedy career. They were realized when she took the stage—a park gazebo—before a sparse crowd: two French tourists. 

Mobley improvised, breaking out her rudimentary French and recounting past trips to Paris while weaving in a helping of dirty jokes. 

“I later found out that I was being projected over a loudspeaker onto a nearby beach, where a bunch of kids were hanging out,” she says. “The terror.”

Mobley, the comedy projects coordinator for GoodLaugh—the comedy wing of the School of Communication’s Center for Media and Social Impact (CMSI)—has since taken her act to increasingly bigger stages, from the StandUp NBC Competition finals in 2020 to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in 2021. After thousands of gigs she’s realized that in stand-up, as with any other profession, it’s OK to bomb sometimes. 

“A bar show on a Tuesday is probably not the thing that’s going to break me,” she says. “Statistically, it would be hard for a show to be the worst I’ve ever done.” 

Comedy is “a series of failures,” Mobley says, and a useful vehicle through which to discuss society’s. In her role with CMSI, Mobley helps organize three initiatives at the nexus of comedy and social justice: Comedy ThinkTank; the Yes, And . . . Laughter Lab; and the Climate Comedy Cohort, a six-month fellowship launched in 2022 in collaboration with Generation180 in which nine comics learn from climate science experts then create original comedy, perform live shows, and compete for $20,000 in project funding.  

The goal: to break through the doom and gloom of climate change and use laughter to spark sustainable change. 

“Comedy in and of itself is a good-enough calling,” Mobley says. “It’s especially nice to be able to use it for social good.”

Now there’s a loudspeaker-worthy statement.