Monday, January 21, 2013

PuSh 2013: Jan Derbyshire

Stand-up comedy is a deadly business: it's either kill or be killed. Those instincts, when mapped onto gender, can produce some additionally toxic results, both in the plethora of misogynistic jokes about women that are the staple of many male comics' routines and in the equally misogynistic belief (prominently upheld in 2007 in the pages of Vanity Fair by the late Christopher Hitchens) that women simply aren't funny. Fortunately, local comic, playwright and multi-media artist Jan Derbyshire puts the lie to both types of character assassination, proving that women can be riotously funny, especially about men.

In her most recent comic monologue, Stood, which premiered last night at Club PuSh, Derbyshire begins by playing with the killer tropes of stand-up, adopting a wise-guy accent, aggressively heckling the audience, and shooting out classic one-liners. But the heart of Derbyshire's comedy is personal storytelling, and after setting us up with all the comic "artifice" (including an amazing imitation of Carol Channing), she gently lets slip the mask, moving into a narrative about an epic road trip she took with her father--and the movie she would make of it--that is equal parts moving, politically savvy, and just plain hilarious.

That this narrative additionally involved the conscription of Club PuSh co-curator Tim Carlson in the role of Jan's father only added to the fun.


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