Kristen Becker has been a working stand-up for about ten years, playing nearly every small town bar or Gay Pride event that will have her, often driving what she lovingly calls the Clitty Clitty Bang Bang van on various Dykes of Hazard tours. On her first album, Becker confronts the conundrum that nearly every single working comedian who finds themselves—whether they like it or not—repping for an underrepresented group (read: not straight white man) eventually faces: how best to split the difference between honoring your community and finding a way to just be yourself. Even the most proud (Insert Group Here) comedian must understandably chafe, at least a little, for being primarily known as a “(Insert Group Here) comedian” rather than just a good comedian.
The first step is just to be yourself, and the second step is to be funny. Oral-sex jokes help. Becker returns to this topic as though it were a musical motif, noting that she clearly doesn’t have the teeth for blow jobs and only survived prom night through two-fisted handies. Her best bit on this topic shows off both her flair for storytelling and mastery of drunk-person voices. When man at a bar offers to buy her a drink, she immediately responds with a friendly “I’m not going to suck your dick, just in case you’re wondering.” They spend a few hours together with Jameson, talking about football, when he asks if she passed out and woke up to discover “some guy was going down on you but it was really good, you’d let him finish, right?”
“Generally when men go down on me I fall asleep,” she responds. “So there’s a flaw in your theory.”
This, understandably, leads to an argument and Becker concluding, “Why don’t you try boiling the herpes of your dick?” What follows is an unexpected but informative discussion of proper dildo maintenance, and how it can be conducted congruently with a fine cup of morning tea.
While Becker might be trying to branch out a bit on Could, she’s clearly not interested in sanding down her edges. Her comedy is delivered in a no-bullshit, call-it-as-I-see-it brio that sounds like the audio equivalent of an “I’m just messing with you” slap on the back. She’s just being herself, and she (with a few exceptions) doesn’t mean any harm.
Though Becker is clearly not afraid to discuss her sexuality, she’s got other things on her mind, from the stupidity of Civil War reenactments (she notes that the North doesn’t do any of those, and they’re the ones who won) to daydreams of telling Facebook users how few friends they have in real life. But like many hard-touring comedians her favorite topic is getting loaded. She praises alcohol’s effects “on long-term memory shit,” noting that she’s almost had enough to forget this “real miserable cunt” she dated and, if anything, she wishes she could choose which subjects to wipe out. (“This shot of Jamison is to trigonometry. Fuck it, I don’t use it anyway.”) She has some of the wittier why-weed-is-better-than-beer-jokes in recent memory (a popular topic for comedians since the reign of St. Bill Hicks), and her stoner laugh is just as dead-on as her drunk voice. In one of her best anecdotes her future mother-in-law, a Mennonite who is clearly coming to terms with some things, visits, and before long Becker needs help to cope. This leads to an argument with her fiancée (Becker mockingly notes that she is “engayged”) and the mock boast “If I want to go upstairs and smoke a joint outside my bathroom window through a dryer sheer like a grown-up, I will!” which leads to the unexpected revelation that Mennonites smoke weed. Who knew?
As the booze-and-BJs talks makes clear, Becker cultivates a free-wheeling party atmosphere at her shows. She knows how hard things can be for the gay community and everyone else, and her primary goal seems to be to create true-to-life entertainment just outrageous enough that people can both relate and take their minds of whatever is bothering them. Fortunately she still opens up while keeping spirits high. The album’s title comes courtesy of a 3-year-old who won’t stop asking, “Is Kris a boy or a girl?” When Becker politely sets the kid straight, she turns to her mother and wonders, “How could she be a girl?”
Becker instantly responds, “I know! I’ve been asking myself that for 35 years!” Her voice conveys an exasperation that speaks to the shit she’s had to deal with from the world at large and from herself for years, and how awkward she can still feel at times. But there’s an air of joy around her annoyance as well. She’s celebrating her ability to joke about all that shit now. Who can’t relate to that?