Who: While some young comedians were honing their act at the 2005 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Drysdale, 27, was blowing auds away with her fierce vulnerability and bravado. In 20 minutes, Drysdale arrested such sacred cows as her Jewish upbringing, her lesbianism and the industry itself.
“Comedians don’t always have something to say, and I so respect the fact that Rebecca does in an inventive way,” says the Aspen festival’s artistic director, Pat Tourk Lee.
One of the highlights from Drysdale’s one-woman show was her pungent rhyme about the social clash between butch and lipstick lesbians told to the rhythm scheme of Dr. Seuss’ “The Sneetches.” In another bit, she impersonates a rapper who bases his own pungent rhyme around the most inflamatory of racial slurs.
Above all, Drysdale’s shows are void of an overriding theme or character arc — and that’s intentional. The comedienne prefers that the crowd becomes familiar with her facets through various vignettes, some slightly personal — i.e. a candid reenactment of her bat mitzvah speech. Others routines are even more personal, such as a four-minute nude shower scene where she croons “Candle on the Water” from the Disney pic “Pete’s Dragon.”
“It’s interesting listening to people’s strong reactions about the scene,” Drysdale says. “I think there’s a little bit of goofiness when you sing alone in the car or in the shower. But taking a private moment and making it public is quite interesting.”
While some emerging artists are careful about expressing their sexual orientation early in their careers, Drysdale is indifferent. “The quickest way for me to get to what I actually do is to simply say ‘I’m gay,’ ” she explains. “I don’t want to deal with coming out later on.”
Drysdale left Sarah Lawrence College to cut her teeth in sketch and improv at Chicago’s Second City and Improv Olympic. Her success at Aspen prompted a move to New York and set her apart from her brother, Eric Drysdale, a scribe on “The Colbert Report.”
What’s going on: After winning the Aspen festival’s breakout award in 2005, Drysdale landed a pilot-talent holding deal with HBO. She’ll reopen “Rebecca Drysdale Is One Woman in Several Pieces,” a revised version of the show she staged in Aspen, at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York.
Take: “Growing up, my friends and I were just nerds about sketch comedy. I would contemplate the similarities between a blossoming Whoopi Goldberg and a young Steve Martin. I was a Trekkie of sketch comedy. I knew more then I do now.”