photo by Hannah Danforth
Mona Concepcion is a stand-up comedian.

Spreading laughter from the West Pacific to West Seattle

Mona Concepcion spreads laughter from the West Pacific to West Seattle

by Betty Rose Cortes

Like many comedians, Mona Concepcion is hilarious, but what sets her apart is that she is the very first female Chamorro stand-up comedienne in the world. And she lives in West Seattle.

“I talk a lot about observation, what it’s like to be from a place so far away, and moving to Seattle as an island girl living in the city,” she says.

Mona is from the West Pacific, from Saipan, an island in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). As a native of the island, she is ‘Chamorro’ by blood, and though she does not speak Chamorro as much as she’d like, she understands the language very well.
“I moved here when I was 18 to go to school,” she said, “I had family, but they were distant relatives, like aunts and cousins, no immediate family. "

That was in 2001 when Mona chose South Seattle Community College to begin her undergraduate studies. “They had the best website,” she joked, “I always wanted to be in Seattle, just from watching movies and (MTV’s) The Real World. I stayed in an apartment by myself and was wondering how food was going to happen. I lived off Lean Cuisine.”

She has a pocket full of jokes and beauty and brains, too.

“I loved reading and the arts. I was in the Junior Statesmen of America in high school,” she recalled. The program allowed high school students to visit US mainland colleges, and for a month, Mona was at Stanford University.

Mona graduated from South Seattle at the top of her class. “I majored in English, was there for two years, then went to UW, ” she said.

And that’s when comedy entered her life. Through one of UW’s experimental/community courses, she took a stand-up comedy class.

“I’ve always loved to make people laugh and loved to tell jokes,” she said, “I always loved comedy. But to pursue comedy earnestly, I never thought about that.”

“I’m only two years in and still have a long way to go,” she says humbly, “The best part is when people laugh at my jokes. It’s my product and I have ownership of that. I hear my mom and sisters telling my jokes word for word and I have pride in that.”

While she is still young in the industry, Mona has showcased her talents at many events and in different cities, including this year’s Chamorro Fest in California, October’s Dis/Orient/Ed show in Portland, even flying back home to Saipan, and many other venues in Seattle, like Jai Thai’s on Capitol Hill, the Feedback Lounge on California Ave and her stint in Camas for Labor Day.

“I try to do shows at least twice a month,” she said in regard to juggling being a mother, wife to her husband, Mike, and working for UW. “I have two kids and I like to see them sometimes.”

Her children, Nathan and TJ, are 7 and 3 years of age, respectively, and contribute the humor she shares on stage. “Most of my jokes are about what it’s like to be a mom, a Pacific Islander and the life I lead,” she said.

“Saipan will always be home for me,” she said, “But I love my community. I’m comfortable here (in West Seattle).”

Mona’s next show is on December 6 at Jai Thai on Broadway. You can follow her comical adventures of a Chamorro Gone City at www.kirida.com, on Instagram and Twitter at @kirida or find her Facebook Page Hey Mona! You can even be her friend on Facebook, of course. She would like that.

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