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Elvira Kurt set to ‘Come OUT & Laugh’

By |2007-10-04T09:00:00-04:00October 4th, 2007|News|

ROYAL OAK – Elvira Kurt, Canada’s Queen of Quirky Comedy, will headline this year’s Come OUT & Laugh on Wednesday, Oct. 10. When asked if she thought National Coming Out Day, which the Affirmations-produced event celebrates, has become cliche, Kurt was, well, a bit curt.

“You’re like the Grinch of Gay Christmas,” Kurt quipped. “What’s wrong with you? Seriously, I’ve just recently been so annoyed with the publicity Jodi Foster received for the ‘The Brave One,’ and it just reinforced for me how many people there still are in the closet. There are a lot of people who are still struggling, for whom it’s a big deal.”

Kurt said she sees this all the time in the crowds she performs for.

“The gay cruises are a perfect example of where people are still closeted,” explained Kurt. “Some women will travel separately, even through they’re from the same place, to where the ship departs because they feel they have to take those precautions. Especially in America, you people are very intense. It’s interesting, in Canada, we just have a different sort of – OK, yes, we’re more insecure than you. OK, are you happy? But there’s not the same sort of religious fervor attached to everything. It’s almost like our attitude in Canada is, ‘As long as your stuff isn’t touching my stuff, I don’t care what you do.’ And it feels like, from having lived there, the attitude in your country is, almost, ‘Does your stuff love Jesus?'”

It’s this unique perspective that makes Kurt stand out from her comedic peers.

“I tend to shy away from what I see is more in the mainstream,” said Kurt of her brand of comedy. “[With others], eventually it will come around to porn, and you’re always going to get a laugh with misogyny or homophobia. But it just doesn’t seem that interesting to me. This is why there are so many comics. One person can’t appeal to everybody. I just assume that there are enough people who also want to hear something different.”

Still, there are topics that are universal, such as family, which is a comedian’s bread and butter. And since Kurt and her partner Chloe welcomed a daughter into their lives two years ago, baby jokes have creeped into her act. “As with anything, I don’t go through something and then it immediately goes into my act,” Kurt said. “I need a little bit of distance because I take everything so personally. I can’t laugh at myself too easily. Some time needs to pass.

“I think probably the first joke I made was, I haven’t come up with any baby material so I thought I would just take all my pet jokes and just change the pronoun. So I’d say, I came home the other day and there was the baby in a beam of sunlight licking her ass and then I said, oh wait, that’s not going to work.”

Today, Kurt’s baby jokes are a little more refined.

“My daughter, right now, is gayer than Ellen,” said Kurt. “She’s been on gay cruises, she’s been to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. She’s got more gay cred than Ellen.” Kurt said she spends considerable time conducting self-analysis of her humor, especially now that’s she a mother.

“My sense of humor tends to verge on the dark side, and no less so when I apply it to parenting. There does seem to be this sort of nefarious undertone that causes me to wonder if I should word things differently. I’m too Eastern- European. If I talk about parenting, it’s going to be about what’s the most wrenching or painful part of it. I feel that it’s the way I kind of look at things. Eastern-Europeans, even our happiness is sort of a variation of the sad.”

Her Hungarian heritage, Kurt said, is responsible for the serious-side of her comedy, a paradox that somehow works for her.

“If the subject matter your talking about is disappointment or second-guessing yourself or anxiety or worrying, these are the things I think about because I imagine they’re universal, even though when I’m going through it I feel that I’m the only one. I say, let’s talk about it, that elephant in the corner. It does mean, though, that the laughs are of a different quality or people react to them differently. But that’s what I’m drawn to as material, like how to take your anxiety about being a good socializer at a party, your self doubt, how do you turn that into comedy? But those are things that people who come up to me afterward, they say, ‘I was feeling the same way.'”

About the Author:

Jason A. Michael
Jason A. Michael earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Wayne State University before joining Between The Lines as a contributing writer in 1999. Jason has received both the Spirit of Detroit Award (presented by the Detroit City Council) and the Media Award from the Community Pride Banquet & Awards Ceremony for his writing and activism. Jason is also an Essence magazine bestselling author having written the authorized biography "Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story," which he released on his own JAM Books imprint.