Kate Clinton talking about current events, the homeless and her hair. Ha!

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Comedian Kate Clinton and writer Michele Valone on leftWhile in P-town this past summer, I had the opportunity to interview comedy legend Kate Clinton at the Crown and Anchor. Actually, to call Kate just a comedy legend would be to cut her lifetime accomplishments very short. Kate has been a driving force of change in the LGBT community.

She is an activist, an advocate, an author, a political commentator and the voice of mixed generations within the LGBT population. She is warm, engaging and was a very willing interviewee to this rather inexperienced interviewer.

It is so great to finally meet you!

Kate Clinton: Thanks. So nice to be here!

I saw your show last night and it was hysterical. Do you ever feel that your humor becomes too intellectual for your audience and they miss what you are trying to say?

KC: No, sometimes I feel that I am teaching. I also think that my material is accessible even to those that don’t follow the news and current events. I feel that there are many things to relate to in my comedy and that it is able to reach out to people on many levels.

You came from a large family, five kids, and you grew up in a small upstate New York town. When you return home, does your celebrity status factor into how all the siblings relate to each other and to you… Has anything really changed?

KC: Not really. I’m just one of the kids. They are really proud of me. A couple of them don’t really agree with what I do, but we just don’t go there and it works ok, It’s lovely and it’s home. And I just love the nieces and nephews and now all the little ones. It is so much fun. I’m Aunt Joke to them. I had to go buy a joke book for little kids. They weren’t finding me funny at all.

You have the most amazing schedule and are on the road all the time. How do you manage your relationship with your partner Urvashi Vaid (former Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force)? Does being away so much add to the success of staying together?

KC: [laughs] No, I like her more and more each day, and I do miss her very much when we are apart. I think sharing information is very important and it is hard work when you have different ways of relaying information. But you do work at it and we have. We have been together almost 23 years.

When you are away, do you find women approaching you all the time, and trying to take advantage of the fact that you are alone and on the road?

KC: Ha! I’m clueless. People can hit on me and I don’t even notice. When my girlfriend is with me and does point something out and says, “Hey, she was hitting on you,” I am like, “She was?” I am really clueless. [laughter]

Was there any time throughout your career where you questioned what you were doing? Did you just take the leap and never look back? I know you were a teacher and a friend had booked you into a comedy club because she got tired of hearing you say you wanted to do stand-up.

KC: I’ll tell you, the traveling is a killer. I’m on the road all the time. When I am circling an airport for four to five hours, I say, “What am I doing here?” But I love what I do; the performing, the writing, being on stage… I just love it and can’t imagine not doing it. So, it is what I have to do.

You have so much to say and you really put yourself and your beliefs out there. If you could be the change in the world, what would you do that would make things different, how would you “take care”?

KC: I would take care of those in need. That older African-American, left handed, lesbian who is alone… I would want to make sure she was okay, and take care of those in need. I want them to be safe. I would feed people. It is terrible that hunger exists in this country or world. It’s huge. The change needs to be incremental, I know it can’t happen overnight. But it needs to happen.

Don’t you find it devastating what is happening to so many homeless LGBT kids? They get thrown out of their homes when they come out. They lose jobs, family and often wind up on the streets….

KC: It’s awful, and it is even worse for the transgender teenagers. When I speak to these kids and issues like DADT, gay marriage, etc. come up, they are like, “Who cares? We’re just trying to stay alive, we’re worried about our safety out there.” It’s really scary for them.

First, how can we help these kids? They are turning into a lost population.

KC: I don’t think it’s that hard. We just need to reach out. Go to a meeting where they are, pick someone out, go up to them, invite them for coffee, listen to their story and ask them “How can I help you?” It’s not rocket science, just be there and be someone they can talk to… And this is where we need our government. They need to step in and help these kids. Cancel one of the wars and use the funds to help LGBT homeless teenagers. Yeah! Cancel one of those wars. It’s okay, we’ve got two of them.

Hey, Kate, thanks. It has been a pleasure. You know something? You look completely different in all of your photographs. And look totally different up close and in person.

KC: Yes, it is all about my hair. The photos are a history of my hair. Did you ever see my brown moss hairdo? Not good. It was icky, not a good hair style. Ha! I love talking about shallow things. Did you know I save Fridays to just talk about shallow things?
Kate, it’s Thursday.

KC: Oh. Yeah, that’s right. It is Thursday! [laughs]

Kate Clinton will be performing at Montclair State University on Saturday February 26th. You may order your tickets at www.womentwowomen.org or call 973-907-6059.

 

Comedian Kate Clinton and writer Michele Valone on leftWhile in P-town this past summer, I had the opportunity to interview comedy legend Kate Clinton at the Crown and Anchor. Actually, to call Kate just a comedy legend would be to cut her lifetime accomplishments very short. Kate has been a driving force of change in the LGBT community.

She is an activist, an advocate, an author, a political commentator and the voice of mixed generations within the LGBT population. She is warm, engaging and was a very willing interviewee to this rather inexperienced interviewer.