Miss Ye, Kate
Comedian Kate Clinton promised a return to feminist and political material, but at her show in Fort Worth, the edge was missing.
by Amy Martin
published Saturday, February 23, 2013
Fort Worth — It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, for a Kate Clinton show. A big Obama win, marriage equality on the rise, a mention of gay rights in the inauguration. “I’m feeling optimistic about things,” Clinton declared on stage Friday at the Youth Orchestra Hall in Fort Worth, in a show for Q Cinema and Open Door Productions.
Too bad. Clinton’s a whole lot funnier when she’s mad. During the Bush era, feisty Kate would froth rabidly at politics, ignorance and fear. She would dissect closed minds and toss the parts out to cannibalistic crowds. She would rage at injustice and fling bitter yet scathingly funny epithets at oppressors.
Where’d you go, feisty Kate? Did you self-censor for us Southerners? For someone whose Catholic upbringing was a cornerstone of her early act, the recent pope retirement should have generated more than “What, you get to give God a two-week notice?” and jokes about Prada shoes. A tantalizing bit about disgraced American cardinals voting for a new pope had the potential for hellfire, but produced only a singe. With a looming gay sex scandal, for heaven’s sake! Clinton cited a cute upside of the situation: More European reports on NPR from throaty Sylvia Poggioli, who evidently inspires quite the lesbian swoon.
But the 200 lesbians in the audience, mostly baby boomers, were already fans, many with crushes on the 65-year-old and still-mighty-tasty Clinton. A steady stream of lesbian double-entendres and innuendos kept the crowd tittering. Such soft audiences that need no seduction often make for a soft show. With her fumerist (feminist humorist) and political ire at an ebb, it was the lesbian jokes that carried the night.
A cruise ship adrift in the Gulf? “Too bad it wasn’t an Olivia cruise. Two-thousand lesbians with toolbelts would have fixed that. Many of them travel with their own welding gear.”
Siri on the iPhone 5: “Just another bossy little female, telling me what to do,” referring to her partner Urvashi Vaid, a New York lawyer of India heritage.
On Fort Worth’s upcoming lesbian film festival: “Lesbian films are getting better and better. Of course, there was nowhere to go but up. Yeah, yeah, Claire of the Moon, Claire of the Moon. Have you seen the rest of this stuff?”
Of being part of a rare lesbian couple that is not raising kids or crops, not owning a dog, and not getting married. The latter was perplexing to her 4- and 7-year-old neighbors: “I tried to explain patriarchy and the objectification of women in marriage, but it just wasn’t going anywhere. Then one of them asked me: ‘Are you just going to shack up?'”
Clinton promised in the press, and on the stage, that she was returning to her once major theme of feminism and the state of women. But far too little material was offered. Yet from backward Republican objections to birth control and fear of the word “vagina,” to savage assaults on women in India and genital mutilation in Africa, there’s no lack of source material. Clinton needs to go spend a week with Eve Ensler. She’d find her inner outrage then.
In a free-associating, stream-of-consciousness show that mostly offered lesbian insider jokes and mildly hashed over current events, one of the brightest flashes of wit came from a foray outside of both. Her sassy 7-year-old neighbor had dismissed her with a swiping motion like moving over to the next tablet screen. She responded with a peaked pinching toward him like one does a phone camera image, thus reducing him to a pinpoint.