The up-and-coming entertainer on isolation, virtual shows, curing hams and her three “very weird dogs”

These days, Amber Falter spends a lot of time with her dogs George Michael, Tiny and Arthur. The three feature frequently in the comedian’s Instagram stories where they commit such high-jinks as making paper snowflakes without her and gossiping while drinking cold brew coffee. (You can follow Falter on Instagram @ambermariefalter.)

In these days of depressing news updates, a sagging economy and a rising death toll, Falter’s social media feed has become a welcome presence. In many ways, she’s doing what she always does: talking about her life, commenting on the weird things her dogs do and trying to make people smile. She’s also taken swiftly to doing virtual shows and promoting those of her fellow comedians. Tomorrow night she’s kicking off “That’s the Stuff,” a weekly show which she has dubbed “a chat with local comedians about nostalgia and being stuffed in our homes.”

We caught up with Falter after she finished working at Falters Fine Meats. (Fun fact: Falter’s family founded the meatpacking company in 1890. It’s the last of its kind in Columbus. This also explains all the ham references on Falter’s Instagram.) We chatted about how she’s handling quarantine life, adapting to virtual comedy shows and the Zen of curing hams.

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How has it been for you since this quarantine started?
So many things in my personal life were stressing me out [in] the weeks leading up to right when this all hit the fan. I felt this immense guilt at first because I woke up in a great mood for a few days—and then reality set in with what we're walking in to with the quarantining. I've been walking my dogs, eating really well, feeling really positive, getting excited about comedy. I'm already such an anxious person that I feel like it prepared me. I can stay home. I can keep meditating. I deal so often with my own personal ups and downs that I feel the need to reach out and check on my friends more often right now.

What are you hearing from other comedians?
One of the first jokes I kept seeing, and definitely a thought I had, when Ohio first announced the 100-person ban, a lot of comedians were making the same joke of, oh, don't worry, all my comedy shows are still on cause not that many people come to them ever. Certainly some of those weekly open mics keep you going and keep you excited and keep you writing. At least for me personally, that one joke that I'm working on, once it gets that one stupid laughs from that one guy in the front row at that one little open mic, I'm like, he gets me! There's something there! Not getting that feedback is interesting, but at the same time, I'm finding a personal beauty in sitting with my thoughts and not having outsiders influence where my brain is going. It makes me feel like I'm finding what I want it to be.

So, meatpacking. That sounds like the complete opposite of comedy and your previous job bartending at Land-Grant.
I went from a very social, interactive, fun bartender, and now I'm working at a giant haunted meatpacking plant. … I've been doing everything from detailing and deep cleaning this old massive brick house. Today I was curing. We've been curing hams, and today we're packaging the hams. I just stood with a small little meat hook up against a giant vat of cured hams, …  just kept yanking these things out of this big metal vat. And I'm looking around, and I'm like, this is really actually peaceful. I'm not getting yelled at by drunks. My family and I are hanging out. I've missed them. They've been so busy. It's a really interesting old business, and I have so much gratitude for it because it's just been here. 

You did the Columbus Goes Live show Sunday. What has it been like doing virtual comedy sets?
I've had a blast, man. I did one for BarkBox the other day. I sat in my pajamas, and I told jokes to my phone without hearing any laughter, which is weird. I've enjoyed it in terms of not hearing the feedback immediately and critiquing yourself on your own. There's not a ton of pressure to put jeans on. I don't have to worry about taking a Lyft home if I get too drunk afterwards.

There's so much in the news about coronavirus: How long will it last, what will happen, etc. How do you deal with those outside voices?
I'm just trying to keep simple things in place and not put a lot of pressure on myself. I initially told myself I'm gonna walk my dogs every single day. I'm gonna do this every day. No, you're still a human being, and you still deserve rest. Who gives a shit? I'm the only one making these rules for myself right now. I can only accomplish so much in a day. I'm trying to eat decently healthy, but if I want to get real high and eat a whole sleeve of Pringles, live your life. That is OK. I think I'm so, so obnoxiously an optimist at the end of the day. Everything can go wrong, all my friends can fucking die, and I'm still like, but there's hope! The main thing keeping me going right now is just absolute gratitude. There's so much, at least in my life and I imagine most [people’s lives], you're just constantly moving. You always can't [do something] because you work nine to five or there's an excuse for everything. You know what, I begged and begged and begged for the world to … slow down, and it is right now. Don't feel guilty if you're having a great day.

So I have to ask about your Instagram stories. Are you even thinking about them at all, or is it more like, let's just have fun and see what happens?
I was talking to my friend the other day on FaceTime, and I was like, sometimes I'll put out all this crazy wild content, spilling it out because my little brain is over-caffeinated. It's like 12 silly things, and out of nowhere I'm like, also, here's a picture of my mom, and she's dead, and I'm sad about it. I want to be vulnerable and honest as often as possible. It might look like I'm having a great time, but I also try to be that same person where [sometimes] I wake up, and I just want to be in bed all day. I want people to know that I'm also a human being, and I have my bad days. I'm just trying to enjoy being myself and enjoy being with myself. And if that's entertaining, hell yeah.

Your dogs feature a lot in your Instagram posts and your stories. Has the fame gone to their heads? How are they as co-stars?
Tiny, I think she knows that she's got it, and she's working with it. George Michael and Arthur are way more humble and chill. I think [Tiny’s] the sassy queen of the bunch for sure. The moment she sees me talking to my phone, even right now she's sitting right behind me like, whenever they want to see me I'm here. I think she actually on some level realizes I'm interacting with something that's not her. She's all, will you put that goddamn phone down and look at me? I'm gorgeous. They're a blast, man. I keep telling people this quarantine would be very different for me if I did not have three very weird dogs.

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