Kristen KeyKristen Key
Kristin Key, playing the Comedy Catch through Sunday, was a finalist on the 2006 season of Last Comic Standing. Having seen her work live, I can guarantee she is one funny dame. We caught up with Kristin before she hit town for her four-night gig:
The Pulse: You've now been doing standup professionally for some years. What, if anything, has changed about the way you work? Do ideas still come from the same places?
Kristin Key: When I first started comedy I wasn't even old enough to drink or get into some of the comedy clubs. I'll be honest, at 19, my comedy was not groundbreaking and my audience really didn't have to think too much about my jokes. But when you think that I started in a small town in Texas…. that’s probably a good thing. I've always tried to make each show more than just a showcase of my jokes, but a memory that the audience and I share. I never want to do the same show twice. I like us both to be on our toes.
If anything has changed, it's that I've grown up and my comedy reflects that. My material has always represented topics, challenges, and experiences that are going on during that time in my life. Ideas still come from the world that I'm living everyday. There's still nothing off limits and I truly do believe that there's humor in everything.
TP: Since you play dates all over the country, do you adjust your act in any way to different regions?
KK: It's weird, but my accent definitely plays a role in my show. I travel so frequently that my accent seems to adjust to what region I'm in. When I'm in Texas, my Southern drawl comes back. When I'm in Minnesota, I find myself rounding my O's. I don't know why and I don't notice it until I get back home and my friends make fun of me. I don't really adjust my material for the region, but my accent has a mind of its own.
TP: Who do you think are the funniest comics working right now?
KK: I have to support the funny females in the business first because they were the heroes that inspired me to try it in the first place. So, Wanda Sykes, Kathleen Madigan and Ellen are three that inspire me. Ron Shock is an amazing storyteller, Zach Galifianakis is hilarious and dry, Brian Regan, Patton Oswalt, Jim Gaffigan—I could go on and on. I like comics that are outside the box. Silly.
TP: Are there ever people in the audience who change the tone or direction of a show?
KK: The audience can absolutely change the energy of a show. When you think about it, it’s really a socially awkward situation: a room full of strangers sitting close together in the dark, staring at me. Typically, we form a bond, a trust, and the show becomes a fun memory. Every now and then, there's the attention whore who wants to be the star of the show, or the drunk who doesn't know that they're not helping, or the chatty table who just doesn't understand inside voices. When someone disrupts the show, the rest of the audience suffers more than I do. I can actually watch their body language change and sometimes they'll say worse stuff to the disruptive people than I do. The majority of the audience just wants to sit back and have a good time. So, when someone does cause a problem, I have to ditch my material for a while and "deal" with them. They may be throwing off my show, but I'm still going to get my laughs—now at their expense.
TP: What's the biggest disaster that's ever happened to you on stage? What about the show that stands out as the best you've ever done?
KK: Biggest disaster ever on stage was on my 21st birthday. It was the first time I'd ever headlined.
I played a room called The Bait Bucket in GunBarrell, TX. A woman was extremely drunk and wouldn't shut the hell up. I made a few comments about her teeth (or lack thereof) and she charged the stage. Two guys had to restrain her and I had to be escorted to my car. That was probably the only time I truly thought I would die because of my jokes.
The best show I ever did was probably the Last Comic Standing semi-final set that got me into the Top 10. It was the moment I had dreamed of. I got to walk out from behind a curtain, grab the mic and look out to a packed audience with TV cameras. And I didn't stutter, fall down, or poop my pants.
TP: Does it ever get old?
KK: I absolutely love being a comedian. It's the greatest high in the world. The happiest moments of my life have been on stage. I love being in front of audiences, I love making people laugh, whether there are 10 people or 10,000, I get just as excited every time.
$9 8 p.m. Thursday, September 29; Sunday, October 2
$14 7:30, 10 p.m. Friday, September 30; Saturday, October 1
The Comedy Catch, 3224 Brainerd Rd.
(423) 629-2233. www.thecomedycatch.com