KAREN DAVIS DOES THE CLUB
LA GUILDE HUMORISTE D’ANGERS
Emerging comedienne Karen Davis was asked to fill a late night slot at LaMama ETC after a more established peer passed on the gig. Or rather, writer/performer Jess Barbagallo was asked to make a show for said venue and decided it would be the perfect moment to move a performance art concoction into the realm of a traditional theater apparatus, defining that structure as one that would require a more full-blown justification for the comedic stylings of Karen Davis. An evening of entertainment, if you will.
Karen Davis first began performing in the summer of 2010 at a benefit performance for downtown theater company Half Straddle. Her presence was envisioned as the embodiment of awkward failed performance and these “failures” could only transpire with accordance to the venues that presented her. If Karen was invited to perform amongst poets, she would attempt to engage with poet culture only to reveal her alienation and inability to connect. If Karen was asked to participate in a night of downtown cabaret, she would reveal her references to be crude, ill-fitting and behind the times. These were the initial experiences that led to the development of the full-length program “Karen Davis Does the Club.” It was also the first-time Barbagallo credited herself as a writer on the project, a bittersweet acknowledgment to be sure. The idea behind the project was to create a heterosexual female alter ego for Barbagallo and collaborator Emily Davis, but it became increasingly difficult for Davis to explain herself in the performance aftermath. A major interest of the project is the blurring of life and art-successful templates might be considered in the work of Andy Kaufman or Paul Reubens’ Pee-wee Herman, however different the strategies of these artists. The latest incarnation of Karen’s existence follows the Herman model.
For the LaMama show, a complete world was built around Karen, featuring Barbagallo as Karen’s roommate, the erotic poet Joe Ranono, Julia Sirna-Frest as a Renaissance Faire-obsessed lesbian sock-puppeteer, and Andre Callot as Andy Callot, a representative of La Guilde Humoriste d’Angers and producer/emcee for the evening. These figures came together to form an alternate comedy club reality, showcasing a queerness that disrupts the conventions of comedy from all angles by offering insular and niche content without explanation, but with deep conviction and the defiant expectation of connection.