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January 6th, 2005

Kate Rigg: Slanty Eyed Mama Strikes Again!

by Hattie

If you’ve recently eaten at a Chinese Restaurant and gotten a fortune cookie that read: “Be prepared. Wild Asian woman on her way,” it was probably referring to Kate Rigg.

I first encountered Kate’s brand of comedy when the SoHo Journal asked me to review her performance at Caroline’s Comedy Club. I’ve been going to comedy clubs for years. In fact, I was a regular during my eight years as a shrink, craving release from the built-up stuff that every therapist contends with. I laughed through some riotous routines, mostly from guys delivering four letter words and the typical “where are you from” jokes. Kate’s work contrasts with the oft-experienced crude style and raunchy choice of topics. She skillfully balances wit and intelligence with lusty wildness in a theatrical, polished delivery, reflecting her considerable training in acting. I easily identified with her allusions to pussy and the abusive sexual treatment of women. In fact, Kate was the last woman to present Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues on Broadway. Not to worry, her material has a sharp edge, but not one that cuts. I found myself laughing with delight rather than whining and bitching about the plight of women.

Hattie: Kate, when did you decide to become a comedian?

Kate Rigg: I never really decided. I still haven’t decided. I started doing character comedy in a High School student talent show.

H: How did you prepare for your career?

K: I grew up in Canada and got out as soon as I could and came to New York in 1993 to study acting. I graduated from the Juliard School with a degree in theatre then took classes at the Manhattan Comedy School, which is run by the talent director of Caroline’s Comedy Club.

H: Your stuff is very sexually explicit, I am curious about your family’s reaction.

K: They’re supportive of my work, but would’ve preferred me to go to medical school. That’s understandable. My dad’s a psychiatrist and my mom an entrepreneur in holistic beauty products. They saw my first show in Australia where they live and were cool about it.

H: Has Margaret Cho’s career helped Asian Comics…something like John Leguizamo’s made Latin Performers more accepted?

K: I hope this becomes an irrelevant question. Margaret kicks ass. She’s one of the geniuses of comedy, but it’s a very different kind of performance from mine, and ethnicity has nothing to do with it.

H: Speaking of ethnicity, you’ve used the word HAPA, what does that refer to?

K: HAPA describes people of mixed Asian background, in my case its Canadian, Australian, and Indonesian.

H: What role does obscenity play in your work?

K: I have a whole set about pussy and talk about edgy stuff, but I hardly curse. I prefer innuendo… make them laugh, not shock them.

H: Do you get nervous?

K: I always get very nervous before and after my performances and don’t want to deal with extraneous matters. I shut down and practically go into a daze for an hour before and after my gigs.

H: What comedians have inspired you?

K: Whoopi Goldberg, Gilda Radner, Tracy Ulman, Eddie Murphy, George Carlin, Mike Myers.

H: What’s up with you relative to relationships?

K: Philosophically I’m pansexual but functionally I’m heterosexual. I’m straight, but not narrow. I haven’t been dating for a year, but lately I’ve been calling in my old chips. I have a big queer following-I adore them.

H: What are some of your ambitions?

K: To do international comedy performances like I once did across America with former Juliard violinist Lyris Hung. To have a special on HBO, I’m pitching them now. Also, I want to continue on TV, playing a teacher, a cop, a lawyer, like being the “American Girl next door” but this time with an Asian- American face. Not a laundry attendant, concubine, or martial artist.

To find out more about Kate’s performances, upcoming shows and to purchase cds visit her website at www.katerigg.com.

Filed Under: Articles | Arts & Leisure | New York

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