Kate Berlant: 'I've been described as weird my whole life'
- Claire Sawers
- 7 August 2018
A largely improvised affair from an experimental LA comic who revels in the decidedly peculiar
Kate Berlant ticks lots of boxes for those looking for absurd, experimental comedy. The show she's bringing to Edinburgh for her Fringe debut has just finished a residency at Upright Citizens Brigade Franklin in Los Angeles. A West Coast branch of the weird, improv comedy club co-founded by Amy Poehler, UCB has helped launch the careers of Donald Glover (also known as rapper Childish Gambino), Ellie Kemper (The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The Office) and Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson (Broad City). Then there was last year's Vimeo TV series 555, which Berlant co-created with her regular writing partner John Early (produced by those lords of the strange, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim) while she also counts the likes of Maria Bamford, Sarah Silverman and Tig Notaro amongst her showbiz friends.
'I've been described as weird my whole life,' says Berlant. 'I was the class clown at school. I've always leaned towards a more … experimental kind of comedy.' In Communikate, Berlant (who has a Masters in Cultural Anthropology and clearly enjoys observing her fellow humans) says we can expect some live psychic readings in an otherwise almost totally improvised show. 'I guess living in Los Angeles I've seen and heard a lot of people into ephemeral, mystic stuff and that comes across a little in the show.'
When she appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon earlier this year with John Early, they brought a couple of gushy, over-emotional thespian types who speak in a mix of corporate babble and musical theatre shorthand. 'I find characters like that funny; people who take themselves way too seriously and start saying stuff like "moving forward" or "jumping off from that". I guess my style is silly and surrealist, in a stream of consciousness style, but I sneak in some bigger ideas like, you know, how I hate capitalism or want to escape heteronormative values.'
Kate Berlant: Communikate, Assembly George Square Studios, 1–26 Aug.