Kate Clinton is one of America”s brightest political comedians. She will perform Sunday at the Ark in Ann Arbor as part of her 20th Anniversary Tour. The performance will be a retrospective of the 20 years she has been performing as a comedian including illuminating perspectives on politics, feminism and life as a gay American.
Clinton”s comedy is not traditional stand-up with a joke and punch line, which she refers to as “a very male kind of humor.” Her style is more narrative, developed and reflective of life. “I”ve never been part of the mainstream,” said Clinton. “It”s been both a blessing and a curse, but a wonderful place to find humor.” Most of Clinton”s work has a political edge from views on the daily news to modern family relationships.
One of Clinton”s favorite topics is feminism, which she sarcastically describes as the “radical notion that women are people.” Her performances often address women”s roles in sports, government, church and family. She claims that men enjoy her perspectives on feminism because they realize “what”s good for women is usually good for them too they just need to be reminded sometimes,” she said.
Clinton spent eight years as a high school English teacher before pursuing comedy. She feels that teaching was a challenging profession and great preparation for her new career. “Teaching gave me the discipline to see a task through to the end,” she said. Clinton always felt that she owed it to herself to give comedy a try, but never gave it a shot until a friend secretly booked her at a club in 1981. From there, the transition was gradual, but rewarding. “My former students are so proud of me,” she said.
Besides performing, Clinton is also an accomplished writer. Clinton”s first book, “Don”t Get Me Started,” was published in 1998, and she is currently working on her second book, “Kate Clinton: Collected Speeches I Never Gave.” In addition, she writes monthly columns for The Progressive and The Advocate in which she makes comical and philosophical comments about the state of our nation and those who have put us in such a state. She has also written pieces for The New York Times and served as a writer on the “Rosie O”Donnell Show” during its rollout period in 1996.
In 1993, Clinton”s “Out Is In,” debuted in L.A. to rave reviews and then moved to New York where it enjoyed a three-month run off-Broadway. Throughout 1996, Clinton”s show, “All Het Up,” toured cities across the country and in 1999, “Correct Me If I”m Right,” premiered off-Broadway. In 2000, Clinton opened her tour of “Y2K3.comedy” at The Public Theater in New York. This winter, Clinton will take part in “The Vagina Monologues” at the Westside Theatre in New York.
Filmmaker Catherine Gund is currently filming a retrospective of Clinton”s first 20 years with a preview of what is to come in the next two decades.