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Vickie Shaw didn’t always rant about her three kids, strict Baptist upbringing and menopause. Well, at least not professionally. Or comically. The once-married matriarch was a motivational speaker, taught in a Comedy Defensive Driving School, sold real estate and, for a while, was a stay-at-home mom. So, it makes sense that the comedian, who will emcee and perform at the ComedyFest, sounds like she’s just won the Mega Millions when asked what it’s like doing stand-up full time: “Yes! Finally!”
She and her “husbian” of nine years, Lori (aka “Sgt. Patch”), just met with the Realtors who are selling their Rockford, Ill., digs. So, understandably, when we call at our scheduled time, the all-American lesbian is a bit thrown, answering the phone like we’re a telemarketer.
When reminded, she perks up like she just inhaled a Red Bull and chats to us about proving to the straights that she’s gay (seriously!) and how you recover from being an S.O.B. Hint: You don’t.
You perform gay material for straight crowds. How does that go over?
Great! I’ve never had a problem. Actually, I think straight people may not have any experience and they’re like, ‘Ooh, you’re the same as anybody else.’
Does the woman-next-door look help?
Yeah, because I’m not a stereotype so they’re hearing what I have to say, and what I have to say is not really any different than they are – and that’s the beauty. I am just like them. My partner just happens to be a woman.
Do you think that they expect the gay material?
No. If it’s just a regular comedy club, they don’t know. It’s not like, ‘Please welcome Vickie: The Lesbian Comedian.’ Once I get going, they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, she’s gay!’ Who knew?
And you’ve never received any weird feedback?
Nope, not one. They’re always just more than wonderful. I have had a few instances where people will come up after a show and say things like, ‘You’re not really gay!’ (I say), ‘No, really, I am. Serious. That’s not an act.’ (Laughs) I had one person say once, ‘Well, you have a wedding ring on your finger.’ (I said) ‘From my partner!’ And then they said, ‘You can do that?’
Why did you decide to pursue comedy?
I didn’t really pursue; it just kinda pursued me. I just kinda did it to just say I did it, and not really as a career. It was just something that I wanted to say I had tried. I followed what was meant to be I guess.
Is your previous marriage and your Southern Baptist upbringing part of your act?
Oh, always! That’s some funny stuff right there. My act is about who I am; I don’t really talk about my ex-husband much, just because – why? But being Southern Baptist and being gay? That certainly has lots of material, ’cause a lot of people can relate to that. Plus, that’s who I am.
How have your children inspired your comedy?
Well, I even talk about them! Because comedy is really about pain and frustration – and kids are a big pain and frustration.
But you love ’em anyways?
I love ’em anyways – exactly. Whatever in my life that annoys me is usually what ends up in my act. It could be anything. It could be politics, it could be my partner, it could be my grandbaby, it could be getting older, menopause. The kids, of course, are part of that.
You’re a self-proclaimed S.O.B., according to your Web site. How do you recover from something like that?
(Laughs) You just get on with it. There’s nothing much you can do about it, ya know.
Do you think you’ll ever fully recover?
Oh, probably not (laughs).