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The unimpeachable Kate Clinton.

Byline: Carolyn Lamberson The Register-Guard

These could be tough days for stand-up comedians.

The Gulf Coast is far from recovered from Hurricane Katrina. War still rages in Iraq. Large portions of Pakistan stand in ruins from a devastating earthquake.

For veteran comedian Kate Clinton, the trick to finding laughter in such horrible situations is to search for the "lunacy" at the periphery.

`There's certainly that old saying that comedy is tragedy plus time,' Clinton said in a phone interview last month, as New Orleans was drying out and Hurricane Rita was bearing down on Texas.

"I think of a figure like Pat Robertson, the reverend' - she chuckles - `who is blaming the entire hurricane (Katrina) on Ellen DeGeneres hosting the Emmys. If she's that powerful, why didn't they send her to Iraq?'

In dark days, Clinton said, people need a reason to laugh.

`The trick is to transfer my Category 6 fury into some kind of humor that people can identify and laugh with and really get some relief,' she said. "I find people are almost dissociated, they've had to separate themselves or shut down just to get through their day with what's going on.

`That opportunity to laugh is really important,' she added. "Sometimes I feel like their laughter is completely dispro- portionate to anything I could ever say. I could say `blue' and they'd be `bwaaaaaaah!'

`People come out (of the show) and say, `Oh my God, I haven't laughed in so long.' '

Clinton will bring her brand of comic relief to Eugene for a one-night-only show on Thursday at the McDonald.

Politics and bedfellows

Clinton has never shied away from political humor. It's actually what she's primarily known for - well, that and being one of the few openly gay comedians on the circuit.

It should shock no one that her favored candidate did not win the presidential election in 2004.

In the wake of the election, Clinton said, `Every dinner I would go to, somebody would end up banging their head on the table and go "what are we going to do?' My job was not outsourced. I've been the designated Bush-watcher for a number of years. It's bad for us, but great for me. I couldn't make it up.

`I would be happy to make it up had John Kerry been elected. I'd have to make jokes about dull people. I'd be fine. I'd do it for my country."

In addition to her career as a stand-up, Clinton is an ordained minister, through the Universal Life Church. She's not performed many weddings lately, however.

"I've attended a couple beautiful ones, but I don't really behave well at them,' she said. "I'd forgotten that when I got my minister's license. I get very silly, and some people take these things very seriously.'

She's also released a new book this summer, "What the L?" a collection of the essays she's written over the years for The Progressive and The Advocate.

`It was really wonderful to go through things that I'd written to see how some thoughts had changed and how others hadn't changed or to be shocked at how long I've been talking about something,' she said. "And also to find out how bad my filing system is."

She pleased with the book's sales, so she's taken it on the road with her this fall.

`I'm whining at the end of shows, `Please don't make me carry them home,' ' Clinton said. "It works.

`Guilt is good.'

As a political and current events humorist, she naturally spends a lot of time keeping up with the news, she said. It was a pretty busy summer.

`I had to learn a new pope," said Clinton, who was raised Catholic. "I was in Rome over the summer. My girlfriend and I went to the Vatican and tried to behave.'

In 2006, Clinton will celebrate a major anniversary. No, not a wedding anniversary - she and her partner share a mortgage, not a marriage certificate.

Next year will mark her 25th year as a performer. She'll launch an anniversary tour in January.

`It seems very, very, very fast,' she said. "It doesn't seem like I've been doing it 25 years.

`However, it has seemed sometimes that I've circled Newark 25 years.'


Kate Clinton

When: 8 p.m. Thursday

Where: McDonald Theatre, 1010 Willamette St.

Tickets: $22 advance, available through Tickets- West, or $25 day of show


Kate Clinton is now in her 25th year as a stand-up comic.
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Title Annotation:Entertainment; Even with doom and gloom in the headlines, this topical comedian is never at a loss for material
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Oct 21, 2005
Previous Article:For George Carlin, longevity's not a dirty word.
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