The whole concept behind the Gorgeous Ladies of Comedy can be, frankly, a little intimidating for male stand-up comedy fans. They’re not going to talk about tampons, are they? Will they call me out for not laughing? Is this going to be one of those girl-power things where they rail against the patriarchy?
The answers to those questions: No, no, and not for the most part. And while the audience at the first night of G.L.O.C. Live was certainly heavy on X chromosomes, the men in the audience could often be seen doubled over and laughing harder than their female counterparts. The experience was not unlike seeing Bridesmaids for the first time in theaters, finally understanding the full potential for women to be brash and outrageous.
G.L.O.C. founder and host Glennis McCarthy set the tone for the evening, strutting out on stage in hot-pink pants and a pink blouse and delivering a kinetic opening monologue that featured a lot of high-kicking and pelvic thrusting. The first comedienne, Katina Corrao, warmed up the audience with some out-of-towner Charleston jokes (“I, like, pushed someone today, and she said, ‘I’m sorry’”) before launching into her bread and butter: Neurotic musings about relationships, Fifty Shades of Grey, and friends with babies. Like Jim Gaffigan, some of her funniest moments came when she second-guessed herself aloud, spiraling out of control into too-much-information territory.
The next two comics, Kambri Crews and Leah Bonnema, presented an interesting contrast. While Crews’ set showed a real knack for storytelling, in the vein of The Moth or This American Life, it didn’t really work as stand-up material. Her story about smuggling Juicy Fruit gum to her deaf father in a Texas prison was affecting and fascinating, to be sure, but it did not elicit many laughs. The jokes she made seemed forced, and when she talked about the rapists and murderers living in the cells with her dad, she seemed vulnerable — a fine quality for a storyteller, but kind of a downer at a comedy show. As she said in the panel discussion at the end of the evening, she doesn’t consider herself a stand-up comic. Her memoir, Burn Down the Ground, has gotten some rave reviews, and it seems her material was more suited to the book format.
Bonnema, the next comedienne to grace the stage, dealt with heavy subject matter as well, but with different results. She managed to wring laughs from her uncle’s suicide and the fact that, while no one in her deeply religious family had ever filed for divorce, there had been a lot of murder. The rest of her set largely consisted of standard-issue penis and vagina jokes in nearly equal measure, plus some riffing on women’s insecurity about weight loss. She kept the laughs rolling, even as she drew scowls from some of the older audience members.
As the final act of the evening, the country-twanging musical comedy duo Reformed Whores took a few minutes to win the crowd over. They persevered through a quiet introduction that took a moment to sink in — “We’re reformed whores, and that’s also the name of our band” — and finally brought down the house with their second song, “Connie Say You’ve Got a VD.” By the time they sang their new ditty “Girls Poop Too,” it seemed everyone was in on the joke.
The evening was held together by an interesting concept. Between sets, McCarthy would sit at a table with each comedienne and ask a few questions: What was your worst date ever? Have you ever drunk-dialed someone? But the conversations seemed staged, and the responses were rarely as funny as the acts that preceded them. The final panel discussion, with all of the Gorgeous Ladies lined up on stage, focused mostly on the nuts and bolts of stand-up: getting laughs, getting shows, and getting paid. While it yielded some insights about a predominantly male industry, it smacked of inside baseball.