Carrie Gravenson: ‘My pain equals your laughter’
The benefits of staying sober while attending a stand-up comedy show far outweigh whatever fun can be had by getting wasted.
However, I much prefer drinking just one or two beers instead of trying to drink all the beers when I see stand-up and the reason is simple: I want to remember the jokes.
And not just single jokes or punch lines. I want to remember what Craig Anton so astutely describes in “I Am Comic” — the tag, the joke, the bit, the chunk and, ultimately, the set. Remembering any of these things, much less all of them, is incredibly difficult if I allow alcohol to turn Tony Castleberry into Drunky McDrunkface.
Two of Carrie Gravenson’s bits during the Wilmington stop of the Pink Collar Comedy Tour remain crystal clear in my memory, mostly because they’re hilarious but also because I saw her set with sober eyes.
The first bit involved one of Gravenson’s friends and another guy getting into an argument that began over a parking place and quickly devolved into these gents loudly debating who had bigger balls. Gravenson ultimately felt this weighty gonad dispute should be settled by the scales of justice, with her hands serving as the scales.
The other bit involves Gravenson’s sometimes faulty bowels. We discussed these parts of her act and much more in a phone interview that hit on topics ranging from Pink Collar groupies, or lack thereof, to how preconceived notions about southerners and New Yorkers are misguided and usually just plain wrong.
TC: Does the lineup stay the same or do you guys switch it up and if so, how do you make those decisions?
CG: We switch it up. Usually we try to figure out what kind of crowd it’s going to be and then we plan the lineup accordingly. Abbi Crutchfield is the cleanest, materially, so if we think it’s a more conservative crowd, we’ll put Abbi first, to ease people in. If we think it’s going to be a really restless crowd, I’ll go first because I’m really good at crowd work. The shows in Raleigh — Kaytlin Bailey is from Raleigh — so she closed because it’s her hometown.
TC: Are there any Pink Collar groupies?
CG: I don’t think anyone follows us city to city. Maybe. That would be cool.
I think we have people who are fans in each city we stop in that come to the shows, but as far as following us like The (Grateful) Dead, not yet.
TC: Do you guys travel my van, tour bus or private jet?
CG: We have four separate private jets. One for each of us.
No. The first tour we were in a Toyota Corolla. For this tour, we are in a BMW that is borrowed from a friend of Kaytlin’s. That’s a step up. The next step, I assume, is private jet.
TC: You guys seemed to really enjoy your time in the South. What about the Southern lifestyle appeals to you?
CG: Definitely the food. Southern food is amazing. I’m sure you hear that a lot, but also, the people are really awesome. Wilmington particularly was a lot different than I thought it was going to be. It’s just, I don’t know, fun people and easygoing and relaxed.
When you’re from New York City, you don’t really know what to expect going to the South. I think the first time I came last year I was expecting like, I don’t know, plantations. But no. It’s just normal people. Hollywood does not reflect the Carolinas very well sometimes. Just like how New Yorkers aren’t all handgun-owning jerks. New Yorkers are awesome people too, but I think that Hollywood has stereotypes. Just like LA people are not all egotistical, vain idiots either.
TC: The other night you closed your set by discussing your digestive problems. First of all, hot. Secondly, I thought your hotel/people check in but don’t check out analogy was funny as hell. I don’t really have a question here. I just wanted you to know that I found your constipation and physical pain humorous.
CG: I’m so glad. Isn’t that what stand-up is all about? My pain equals your laughter. Isn’t that the whole game that we’re doing here?
That bit started as a conversation I was having with a friend and I was like, “Oh, my stomach hurts” and she was like, “Why?” and I was like “I don’t want to gross you out” and I just did the whole analogy and it went from there. That was organic in the way that came about.
TC: And the parking lot/big balls story, that was a real life thing too, wasn’t it?
CG: I mean, in real life I didn’t actually touch anyone’s testicles. The last line of that is made up, but the story is true, yes. It’s a real thing. It happened. The story is much longer if I told it with my friend. A lot led up to that. It was pretty shocking.
By the way, the guy who yelled at my friend came out of a church to yell at him. He walked out of a church in a rage because his car was blocking us in. It was too funny.
TC: The Tomfoolery Hour sounds fun. I can only hope that there are shenanigans that go on during The Tomfoolery Hour because few things go together better than shenanigans and tomfoolery. Would you agree?
CG: Totally agree. Absolutely. At The Tomfoolery Hour, you get shenanigans, tomfoolery and (long pause) hibhobery, which is a word I just made up. You should come to the show and see what hibhobery is.
Here it is, The Best Tweet I Can Find In Five Minutes:
We don’t treat every young white man like he invented Nickelback. We shouldn’t treat every young black man like he invented robbery.
— Larry Fulford (@LarryFulford) June 5, 2013