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Kate Clinton :: ’All Fracked Up’ for the summer

by Jim Halterman
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Jul 2, 2012

It's a safe assumption that summer wouldn't be summer without Kate Clinton performing for the gay and gay-friendly masses in Provincetown and this year (thankfully because we can all use a good laugh, right).

The always hilarious, political, wonderfully spot-on Clinton will be at the Crown & Anchor in July and August. The good news is that there's plenty of material across the spectrum for the comedienne. Amidst the all-too-frequent political figures stumbling and blundering through the hot-button issues of the moment, for example, there's also the silver lining such as when our President finally comes out in support of gay marriage.

None of this is lost on Clinton, who jumped on the phone to chat with EDGE's Jim Halterman about Mitt Romney's hilarious laugh, how we cannot take steps back in the fight for equality and what exactly she is proud of during our current Pride season.

32 years

EDGE: So you’ve been at this for thirty years?

Kate Clinton: Honey, thirty-two. I started in 1981.

EDGE: Wow! How has the audience changed over time in how they take your humor?

Kate Clinton: Paul Monette, who was a wonderful writer who died years ago of AIDS, said he didn’t think people were necessarily homophobic as much as homo-ignorant. That they didn’t really know gay people or they didn’t actually know they had gay people in their lives. And so I think that is a huge change that I often feel like, when there are straight people in my audience who almost feel hurt when there’s something they didn’t know about gay life. Now that is just a staggering thing. So I think they’re smarter and they want to know. It’s amazing changes. I was thinking this morning about just the difference that it could be that at the end of the summer the Supreme Court will release their decisions and it could be we could get marriage equality but lose health care. ( Editor’s note: Ms. Clinton was, happilly, wrong on half of this: the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act on Thursday, June 28, 2012.)

Old fashioned thinking?

EDGE: How ironic! Do you think the fact that Obama’s come out endorsing and supporting us a lot more than he had in the past, that that’ll change a lot of those old fashion thinkers?

Kate Clinton: You know, I think they just have to die. I mean really organically that’s what going to have to happen. But not to at all underestimate or underplay the credible effect of having support from the White House, I do think that that kind of leadership is a trickle down that can’t be undervalued. When Bush was in power for how many years, I don’t know. I know he had a lot of gay friends but he was so anti-gay. And then there was just an uptick in violence against LGBT people. It was like permission to be homophobic from on high. So to have our President come around and say, in a very politic way probably but whatever he said it, that he supports marriage equality. I think it’s a game changer.

EDGE: Do you think once we get to that place where we do have equality and everybody can kind of move on to whatever the next big thing is that people will just kind of look back and be like why did we wait so long?

Mitt’s laugh

Kate Clinton: Absolutely. I mean I know that there are still problems in the military and adjustments (that still need to be made); but I think that is still fallout from the repeal of ’Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ Thanks again, Bill Clinton. We’re just about done with your mess. I think that there are still underground problems but there’s some study that said 69 percent, of course 69 percent, of the military said that they didn’t feel any significant change from the repeal. So I think it’s going to be like that. My worry is that then people will be like ’Excellent! Let’s go on a cruise!’

We’re done. But in fact it’s things like bullying, that’s still happening. There is the bully pulpit. There’s still incredible homophobia in fundamentalist churches and in the crazy-ass Catholic Church. It never disappoints. Whenever I’m running low on material, they never disappoint. Now they’re nuns in a bus. I love it. Can you imagine? They got nothing. They’re going after nuns. They got nothing.

EDGE: I saw your video about Mitt Romney’s laugh, which is funny. It’s just a weird laugh.

Kate Clinton: It’s such a bark. It’s like a constipated dog-bark. It really is. I’ve always wanted to do a joke about that. You run out of characters, so you just have to stop.

EDGE: It’s crazy. Now [recently] the big buzz here in LA was the fact that Obama was here and he had a big Hollywood benefit, and it was like $2,500 dollars a plate. I didn’t go. [laughs] But do you have an opinion on that, like on how politicians do court Hollywood and how it’s a part of the political machine?

Kate Clinton: Oh God, I mean I think the more dispiriting notion is how much money has to be raised to run? I mean the Obama campaign said they have to raise a billion. I look at Mitt Romney and I think ’geez wouldn’t twenty bucks do it?’ Are you kidding? So I’m glad that Obama was there courting because those years when the Bush people were like, ’we don’t need no stinking actors.’

About ’All Fracked Up’

slug>EDGE: Let’s talk about your tour this summer and ’All Fracked Up.’ What is your show about this summer?

Kate Clinton: I have to say that my publicist insists on a new name every tour and after thirty years, you can run out of names. It’s weird to try to name a show in January -- who knows what’s actually going to be happening? You know what I mean? But we’ve gotten lucky. But I have a finger on the pulse of the nation. Really, what’s coming up this summer will be the Supreme Court decisions. It will be the lead up to the conventions and also, mercifully, the Olympics, which are always just hours of hilarious material. Especially if you watch with my girlfriend because she believes that everyone is gay in the Olympics and we have these huge conversations about, ’why do you think they’re gay?’ We’ll look at that.

And then just being in Provincetown for July and August is a wonderful opportunity for me to write things in the morning and try them out at night. And sometimes I think ’well, that’s two pages of really strong material;’ then after two shows, it’s like just one line. But what sometimes happens is often a line will grow because somebody hears it in a different way or I hear it in a different way, thanks to the audience, and that grows. I always look forward to that because it’s fun to sort of mold a theme and understand what’s going on from how an audience reacts. It’s a pleasure, so who knows? I’ll come out of it by the end of the summer with a completely different show.

EDGE: I saw on your website you were asking this question to your fans: what are they out and proud about? Or how are they celebrating being out and proud? I’ll turn the tables on you and make you answer your own question. What’s your answer to that?

Kate Clinton: That’s great. I guess I’m out. I mean I’m very proud of all of the changes and I just think Evan Wolfson is unbelievable -- getting marriage equality happening and talked about and having a plan. So I celebrate that. But again, I worry about that we’ll back up. If you look at other movements for liberation you get a victory in the women’s movement, you get a victory in the black civil rights movement, everybody kind of backs up and we can’t. So I think that although I am very happy about marriage equality and its growing possibilities, I think one of my jobs and what I do, that I have an opportunity to talk to gay people and to challenge them about what we still need to do. I’m proud that I’m worried.

For Kate Clinton’s dates at the Crown & Anchor in Provincetown, check out her website.

Watch this clip of a recent performance by Kate Clinton:

Jim Halterman lives in Los Angeles and also covers the TV/Film/Theater scene for www.FutonCritic.com, AfterElton, Vulture, CBS Watch magazine and, of course, www.jimhalterman.com. He is also a regular Tweeter and has a group site on Facebook.


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