Just as one needn’t be Jewish to enjoy that particular brand of rye bread, one needn’t be a lesbian to enjoy the humor of Kate Clinton. One of the first openly gay women to make it big on the standup circuit, Clinton is currently performing her hilarious 90-minute act at Highways.
The show is not for the closed-minded or prudish; anyone who thinks K-Y jelly is “a petroleum product from Kentucky,” as she jokes, had best stay away. Alternatively, anyone who wondered about Gomer Pyle’s sexual orientation during the recent debate on gays in the military should waste no time in buying a ticket.
Clinton is a very good comedian; her material is sharp, intelligent and funny , and her delivery is low-key but precise and consistently effective. A former English teacher, she uses language with admirable precision and laments its current abuse. (When, she asks pointedly, did “family” turn from a noun into an adjective?)
About half of her material deals with gay themes, while the rest covers such traditional territory as therapy sessions, reality TV and Michael Jackson’s skin color.
These tendencies merge during her lengthy, fascinating description of her participation in the gay and lesbian march on D.C.
While some of her material is a bit dated (do we really need more jokes about last year’s Republican Convention?), much of it is as up to date as, well, this month’s cover of Vanity Fair.
Her comments about the controversy of gays in the military are not only very funny but quite insightful. “‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ is how my family operated,” she notes. “It’s like putting a screen door on the closet.”
Discussing the recent study of the brains of straight and gay males, she gets in some digs at the male bias of scientific research without getting preachy. The scientist in question “said he was unable to locate any lesbian brains,” she notes. “I’ve been to that bar, too.”