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Acts 'let it all hang out' in comedy show

Comedian says she doesn't have to worry about being 'too gay'


Pride Comedy Show, featuring Diana Kuch, Sheila Norgate, Nancy Mergen and Lenore LeMay

Where: Ambrosia Event Centre, 638 Fisgard St.

When: Tonight, doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m.

Tickets: $20 at the doors, cash only

Mind what you wear to tonight's Pride Comedy Show. A dress code will be in effect.

"It's pajamas, rainbows and fake noses," said Diana Kuch, the event's organizer and one of its headliners. "We hope everybody's adhering to that."

She's half-kidding, of course. But the guidelines imply a more hard-and-fast rule: For the evening featuring four female comics, joyful absurdity will be de rigueur.

"I think the night's going to be extra exciting for us because we can amp it up, let it all hang out and not worry that we're going to be 'too gay' or 'too lesbian' or 'too queer.' For one night, we're going to have a whole lineup of gay and lesbian people and no one is going to complain."

The Saanich comedian will perform her Potluck Universe act, an amalgam of observational humour and social commentary.

"I'm a lesbian and I'm talking about my life and my relationships, coming out, what kinds of things I'd like to see at Pride or from my family.

"I'm basically just celebrating the fact I'm going to have a very LGBT-friendly audience on that night and so I can talk almost as much as I want."

Perhaps ironically, especially for a gig billed as a campy romp, Kuch will use negative experiences from her own life as fodder for her routine.

To give an example of one of her more rueful bits, she brings up an imaginative riff she does on Parents, Friends of Lesbians and Gays, a pro-gay-rights advocacy group whose chapters often march at North American Pride parades.

"My family will never be in PFLAG, so I made up a special group for them: The Dysfunctional, Introverted Siblings and Homophobic Relatives Afraid to Say the Word Gay."

(The acronym almost spells "dishrag," but not quite.)

"And my mother would hold a sign saying, 'If you don't talk about it, it goes away.' "

Out of context, the line might seem as funny as a kick in the gut. But Kuch says people who can identify with the source material will get a lot out of the joke.

"I believe that comedy is really funny when we can relate to the comedians, but in particular, it's funny when we can relate to their pain."

It's a point not lost on co-headliner Sheila Norgate, whose satirical Powerpoint presentation Lesbian Etiquette: Oxymoron or Is It Just Me? pokes fun at how traditional notions of femininity have oppressed queer women.

"I'm playing with offering lesbians some tips with how to be well-bred," Norgate says. "The joke is that lesbians aren't associated with the good breeding or manners that most of our culture has indoctrinated women with. I'm playing with that stereotype"

The Gabriola Island-based writer and self-described feminist has collected about 140 books about women's etiquette that date from the 1930s to the '60s and is currently wring a book on the topic.

"I'm 62, so in the '50s and '60s I was getting a lot of this stuff from my mom."

Her act addresses lesbian social norms that would have been faux pas by mid-century standards.

"I poke fun at the potluck, which is a common form of entertainment that lesbians are into," she says. "From a '50s and '60s point of view, the potluck is just a primitive thing. A 'good' hostess would never do it - she would just feed everybody."

Though geared to a particular community, the anecdote obviously speaks to a broader audience - a quality that Kuch says is characteristic of the humour on tap for tonight's show.

"A lot of the stuff, like relationships and feeling like you are not one of the crowd, I think that's relatable for everybody."

And those not in need of emotional catharsis may instead find relief from physical ailments, she jokes.

"If they're feeling a sore throat or a cold coming on, they'll laugh so much that they'll be cured."

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