Last night, comedian and artiste Kate Berlant performed on the Comedy Central show The Meltdown with Jonah & Kumail. Her standup set—like all of her standup sets—served as an excellent reminder that we are living in a great time for creative, weird, intelligent, and subversive comedy.
In truth, there are few things I hate more than taking comedy seriously or trying to write introspectively and analytically about something thats main purpose is simply to make me laugh, but I’m willing to put that aside right now, all because Kate Berlant just makes me feel so damn excited.
Berlant’s style is surreal and stream-of-conscious. She takes the stage with the loopy and manic confidence of motivational speaker, peppering her (often non-sensical) speech with politically charged buzz phrases like sexualization is the only currency and forced into an economy of paying for your own subjectivity.
For another example of her comedy, check out her 2013 promo video for Ars Nova’s Showgasm.
“The oceans are on fire. Your husband’s face is changing. Why? Science, “ she says, straight-faced. “Your niece can sense that you’re no longer her mentor and are pulling away. Why is that? Fear.”
Her onstage character is the heightened embodiment of every liberal arts educated, art and women’s studies double major that you’ve ever met. It’s genius and—more importantly—funny as hell.
I was first introduced to Kate’s work—and the work of her frequent collaborator John Early—when, about a year and a half ago, my friend Caroline showed me their brilliant short, “Santa Monica.” Because of the introduction, I am deeply in Caroline’s debt, but—rather than take her out to dinner or send her a “thank you” email—I’m paying it forward and sharing Kate’s work with you. You might ask, “Aren’t you just doing what Comedy Central and other more influential networks have already done?” To which I respond, “You’re welcome, friend. You’re welcome.”
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Image via Comedy Central.