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10 Comics to Watch: Kate Berlant Is Inspired by Ball, Has Netflix in Future

10 Comics to Watch
Hawkey Photos

The native Angeleno has been called a lot of names, including “an absurdist” and “an avant-garde theater artist,” since she started doing standup at 17. “It’s all flattering, but I definitely identify as a standup comedian before anything else,” says Kate Berlant, whose act showcases a unique mashup of styles that include the physical comedy of Lucille Ball (one of her idols) alongside more cerebral, stream-of-consciousness explorations of various personas.

“My standup’s non-traditional in certain ways, and it’s been described as ‘experimental,’ but I think I’m also quite broad,” she says. “I used to worry that there wouldn’t be a space for me in the comedy canon to do what I wanted to do, but it’s been exciting to discover that I was wrong.”

After living in New York for nine years, Berlant recently returned to L.A., where she’s developing several TV projects, including one for Abso Lutely Prods. based around alter ego Karen, a self-help guru. “I’m also developing a 30-minute character special with Netflix that I’ll also be the showrunner on, but I can’t say too much about it yet.” There are also movie and TV collaborations in the works with John Early, “my favorite comedian and best friend,” she adds, “and of course I’ll keep touring and performing, so this could be ‘The Summer of Kate.’ ”

Reps: Agency: UTA; Management: Mosaic
Influences: Lucille Ball, Steve Martin, Reggie Watts