Musical comedian Katie Goodman gave a spectacular, memorable solo show at Manhattan’s Stage 72 on Friday, March 21, 2014.
Playing for about an hour, and accompanying herself on piano, guitar, and atop prerecorded backing tracks, Katie consistently used her effervescent, near-operatic soprano to provide a wicked and apt contrast to her smart, often darkly sardonic punch lines.
Her songs, some of which were written with her husband Soren Kisiel, tackled issues of aging, sexual identity, gender politics, and modern urban living—but uniformly with a humanity and bubbliness that prevented these topics from becoming preachy or overbearing.
Katie calls her show “I Didn’t Fu— It Up,” and it was with this simple, crude, fairly universal sentiment that she began the evening: “I didn’t fuck it up / You probably didn’t fuck it up / But they, whoever they are, fucked it up / Now it’s fucked up.” Three chords and the truth.
In “These Are the Things I Can’t Fu—ing Remember,” Katie satirized middle-age fears in a funny, poignant way that was everything the oeuvre of cartoonist Cathy Guisewite tried (but always failed) to be. “The Midlife Crisis Song” was similarly life-affirming, but never didactic or puerile.
“Probably Gay (The Homophobia Song)” couldn’t have been more culturally relevant: “Homophobia is not that you’re afraid of gay people / But that you’re afraid that you might be gay.” It is probably the only song to ever cite The Journal of Abnormal Psychology—hysterically, natch.
In the final chorus of the cabaret song “Multitasking,” Katie “took” a phone call (in which she remotely coached a friend’s labor) and then proceeded to perform a snippet of a song (the hilarious “I’ll Be Jewish for Christmas”) she claimed to have written while she was performing this one.
There were raps about soccer moms and MILFs (including a name check for Maria Montessori). Despite their solidly middle American subject matter, and the presence of beat boxing, neither of these devolved into the isn’t-it-novel-for-a-white-fortysomething-to-rap awkwardness that has plagued hack comedians for thirty years—and is somehow still a problem.
Katie interacted with and dynamically engaged her audience throughout the evening, invoking her fans—which, in defiance of stereotypes, were at least 75% female—to clap and sing along in an organic, never-hokey way. The show was so homey that Katie herself checked me into the venue.
Katie’s delightful, clever parodies and vulnerable, likeable personality make her the equal of more renowned female musical humorists such as Christine Lavin and Cheryl Wheeler. And she is nothing if not versatile: Katie’s pre-show Facebook status mentioned that Pulitzer Prize–winning political cartoonist Tom Toles of The Washington Post would be in attendance while coyly withholding further details.
Editor’s Note: Do you perform funny songs? Interested in sharing a stage with artists of Katie’s caliber? The New York Funny Songs Festival is a landmark indie festival created by the comedy musicians of New York City for the comedy musicians of the world. Favorably reviewed in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Time Out New York, and the Huffington Post, the 2014 fest will take place from Thursday, May 29 through Saturday, May 31. Submissions are being accepted through Thursday, April 10. Please go to www.nyfunnysongs.com to apply.