When I GF gifted tickets to Homo Comicus for last Tuesday night, you can imagine my excitement.
We were seated at a small table against the back wall of the club. I don’t know what I had been expecting but it seemed a bit of a tight squeeze. Then again, what should I expect? This is New York! New Yorkers are meant to feel lucky to be squeezed on the end of a picnic style table to eat thirty dollar entrées and drink fifteen dollar glasses of pinot. Or in this case, the two six dollar coca-colas and nine dollar Coronas we were forced to order under the strict two drink minimum. But the place was packed, and the Upper West Side couple we shared our tiny table with were friendly enough to make room for us to see the show.
The emcee, Michele Balan, opened with her own set of jokes. As is the advantage of the comic of a certain age, she was able to hit homer after homer with her “I’m so old the …” and “Now instead of saying ‘who brought the coke’ at the club we say ‘who brought the advil?’” Age jokes are winners because the more mature crowd commiserates and the younger crowd roars with delight because we don’t quite get the jokes yet, and that’s a good thing.
First up to the mic was a young butchy type named Emma Willman. Though her jokes had a bit of Bambi-like awkwardness, the crowd was a kind one and for the most part we laughed when we were supposed to. Though my own palms became a little balmy with fear she’d crash and burn, she made it through. It was a glorious moment of applause that ended her act, though it might have been one of relief. The crowd was full of lesbians with maternal hearts, and we were rooting for her.
The towering Tara Devlin was a seasoned vet, both comically and literally. Her act was amped up by her extreme sense of patriotism that led her to enlist in the National Guard after 9/11. She perfected that odd balance of self-pity and shame that born and raised New Yorkers tend to have, which works wonders in a comedy act. She flew through her jokes with the kind of confidence that demands laughter, and it rippled through the room with a pleasing fluidity.
And when Kate Clinton finally made her way on to the stage, she was a star. There are two joyous pleasures that come with watching a Kate Clinton stand up, not unlike those from a dual-action vibrator. Laughing at a Kate Clinton joke gives you the self affirmation that you are smart enough to get the joke, in addition to the hilarity of the joke itself. And don’t think for one minute she missed the opportunity to mistake the emcee’s name for Michelle Bachman rather than Balan. Her witty humor and sophisticated presence had the crowd sold.
The night was a hit. But when we all went squirming off to the bathroom afterwards and the women’s line far outshone the men’s, we were told by a hulking security guard, ‘you ladies are not to use the men’s room!’ I’m surprised there wasn’t some kind of rebellion after such a night of female empowerment. I half expected someone to step up and quote Clinton on her message to straight white men everywhere: “Prepare for your extinction.”