When I first tried to reach comedian Kate Clinton, she was in the midst of a yoga session. “I would have preferred talking to you instead of one more down dog,” she says. “Who is that old lady knocking things over? That would be me.”
Clinton may be clumsy on the yoga mat, but she’s a well-oiled machine onstage, with three decades under her belt offering political jabs and the funny side of LGBT life. She brings her act to Charleston on Fri. March 18 with a benefit for the Alliance for Full Acceptance, a local gay rights non-profit.
Clinton is no stranger to Lowcountry — she was here in January to watch her partner run in the inaugural Charleston Marathon. “We went to all the coffee shops on the route and waved,” she says. During her routine she will likely mention some of the spots she visited during her visit, but her bread and butter is critiquing political tomfoolery, as well as looking at LGBT issues like marriage equality and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Clinton was pitched as “that lesbian comic” long before you could find them on daily talk shows. She played a lot of colleges and Unitarian churches in the early years — some even in hard-to-find communities. “There are certain areas where performers wouldn’t go, so you go and you’re golden,” she says.
These days, she updates her website constantly, regularly adding video segments. While she may run through roughly 30 pages of material onstage, when it comes to her online video, she writes down three words and just starts talking. “It’s just very freeing,” she says. “It makes me spontaneous.”
While Clinton’s goal is to get audiences to laugh, she also sees comedy as a way to connect the dots when it comes to all the news we’re been inundated with every day. And sometimes her comedic insights can even bridge the political divide. “Even if they disagree, if I can get people to laugh, they let their guard down,” Kate says. “Humor can absolutely move the political process along.”
The show will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the American Theatre, 446 King St. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased at affa-sc.org. A special conversation following the show with Kate and her partner, Urvashi Vaid is included for $100.