Image: Kat Kramer Image credit: Kat Kramer website
#KatKramer; #StandUpComedyDebut; #FreshFaces; #TheComedyChateau; #Humor
Image: Kat Kramer. Image credit: Kat Kramer
Katharine ‘Kat” Kramer is a former Miss Golden Globe Ambassador and the Founder of “Kat Kramer’s Films That Change The World,” an international cinema series to showcase motion pictures and documentaries that raise awareness of important social issues. Recently, Kat Kramer debuts a new Comedy Routine at The Comedy Chateau. She covers topics ranging from Jeff Bezos, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Greenpeace, “Grace and Frankie” to her Godmother Katharine Hepburn and The Rolling Stones. Asha Bajaj, Editorial Director, Publisher, and Marketing of Canadian Media had a chance to discuss with Kat the characteristic traits of her Stand-Up Comedy debut for “Fresh Faces” at the Comedy Chateau on July 25, 2021, and July 30, 2021
Following is the excerpt of the interview:
Asha to Kat: You made your Stand-Up Comedy debut for “Fresh Faces” at The Comedy Chateau on July 25th, 2021. You followed that performance as a featured comic on Chateau Fridays at The Comedy Chateau, on July 30th. You were the only female comic on “Fresh Faces.” What were the characteristic traits that set you apart from male comics?
Image: “Fresh Faces”. Image credit: Screenshot
Kat: Well, first of all, I’ve always incorporated comedy into my work. Humor is important, even in serious projects. I’ve performed in musical comedy, sketch comedy, and was part of a comedic duo. Going into Stand-Up Comedy was a natural progression, being the only female comic that first time at The Comedy Chateau. I strive to keep my topics relevant, and I want to pursue global and world issues, plus observational comedy. Adding a feminist perspective set me apart.
I may have some edgy jokes so people can relate, but I basically consider myself a “clean comedienne.” Meaning I don’t want to focus on bathroom humor or sex jokes. The main reason I’m venturing into stand-up comedy is that I have lots I want to say, and have chosen comedy as the best way to bring issues into the conversation. I haven’t had the courage yet for political comedy, but do want to explore social issues through humor.
Just like my international cinema series “Kat Kramer’s Films That Change The World” explores social justice issues through film. My “Kat Kramer -Comedy” Logo says it all. I want to joke about world issues, and also uplift through humor.
Image: Kat Kramer Comedy Logo. Image credit: Kat Kramer
Your comic entrance to the stage for your performance with protective COVID gear like face masks, gloves, etc., and your reference to vaccination raises awareness for the audience and viewers about the necessary precautions to be taken during this Covid-19 pandemic. Please comment on this.
Yes, I decided to make an entrance a la Lucy -(as in Lucille Ball,) Charlie Chaplin, but not extreme physical comedy. How can we avoid the COVID issue? We really can’t, it’s been like The Spanish Flu of 1918, which lasted until 1920. The whole world was affected.
Let’s face it, we’re going through a global pandemic, COVID 19 and the variants are the biggest enemies we are all facing.
I truly believe that “laughter heals,” and we need to laugh more than ever these days. It was meant as a commentary on the times. Mask mandates are being strictly enforced here in California, even for those who are vaccinated. I entered wearing “Personal Protective Equipment” (PPE) to basically demonstrate how we still need to find humor in our lives, even though so many people have passed away from COVID. For safety purposes, I wore gloves, a cape, a face shield, and 2 masks. It was all meant to poke fun at the gear we have to wear to stay safe from dying.
Felix McNulty, the owner of The Comedy Chateau, was so good-natured to play along with my antics. Felix is a hero to comics because he opened his club during the pandemic, giving us comics a chance to perform live and work out bits. He books newcomers with headliners and gives comics home for their routines.
What is the significance of your Hollywood references, “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” in the present comedy performance?
My late father Stanley Kramer was the filmmaker who was considered the “voice” of social-justice issues in the film. He was known for tackling serious, controversial subjects such as racial injustice, civil rights, genocide, equality, Darwin’s Theory, nuclear holocaust, disability rights. He was a director/producer of legendary status.
The film critics of the day believed my father could never make a comedic film. He basically made “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” on a dare. The 1963 comedy classic starred Spencer Tracy, and most of the great comics and comedic actors of the day. It’s still considered by many fans to be the “funniest movie of all time.”
Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Jonathan Winters, Buddy Hackett, Mickey Rooney, Terry -Thomas, Ethel Merman, Phil Silvers, Edie Adams, Dorothy Provine, Dick Shawn, Marvin Kaplan, Carl Reiner, Jerry Lewis, Don Knotts, Jack Benny, Barrie Chase, Jim Backus, Arnold Stang, Stan Freberg, Eddie “Rochester” Anderson, William Demarast, Andy Devine, Peter Falk, Norman Fell, The Three Stooges, etc. and many more. It was a hit and was nominated and won Academy Awards.
I was influenced by these comedic geniuses. As a kid, I even opened for the late Milton Berle. He wasn’t too impressed with the comics of the 1990s, because he worked clean. Milton always said “you have to be really funny to get laughs” meaning that vulgar or bathroom humor was not traditionally funny.
It makes sense I would pay homage to “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” in my comedy routine.
Of course, the “Mad Mad World” reference is really about “greed.” The movie was a commentary about greed, and the entire world has lost its way, so that’s why I included the reference. Planet Earth has truly gone “mad” in 2021.
I’m a founding board member of the Palm Springs International Comedy Festival, (PSICF) It was established in 2018 by Paul Cruz, who is also the festival director. I’m also a judge, so performing stand-up comedy gives me a chance to scout for new talent, besides developing material. I plan to perform for PSICF in 2022 and beyond.
My Mother, Karen Sharpe-Kramer, and I both established the Stanley Kramer “Mad World” Comedy Award for Best Ensemble Film. Because my father’s “Mad, Mad World” was largely filmed in Palm Springs and Palm Desert, it’s an ideal award in his honor at PSICF.
4. Your comedy performance is full of references to social issues like climate change, global warming, and culture, etc.
Well, I hinge some of my routines on “I Worry” because I do worry about many things, some minor, some major. Global warming, climate change, cancel culture are just some of the issues I talk about, look for the humor. Cancel Culture is a huge problem in our culture right now. It’s true that people, especially famous ones, are attacked if they make any statements or engage in behavior that’s damaging to others, or considered “politically incorrect.” For example, celebrities who have sexual allegations are basically “canceled.”
It’s happening all over the world, but it’s basically a cultural crisis happening in America.
5. Why does Katharine Hepburn always make an appearance in Kat Kramer’s comedies?
Katharine Hepburn was my Godmother and namesake. I was named for her because she starred for my father in the film classic “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” a groundbreaking social issue comedy about interracial marriage. It was ahead of its time, a legendary motion picture.
Katharine Hepburn was also a 4 time Academy Award winner for Best Actress, and she was a great comedic actress. She was also a cultural icon and feminist. An original personality. She spelled her name “Katharine” just like the Queen. People frequently spelled her name wrong, as they do mine. She was often known as “Kate.” But, what most people don’t know, she was called “Kat” by family and close friends.
I created the character of “Auntie Kate” in my solo show “My Duet With Mick.” She is kind of like an” alter ego.” There’s a song I sing called “Katharine With an “A” about how everyone misspells our name. I will always find a way to include “Auntie Kate” into my comedy. She can say things that I (Kat Kramer) won’t say in humor.
6. Anything else you’d like to add?
I have many comedic influences. My performing idol Lily Tomlin started her illustrious acting career doing Stand-Up Comedy in clubs during the 1960s. She even opened for the Jazz singer, Mabel Mercer in New York in the “downstairs” room at Upstairs at the Downstairs, which was a prominent club. Lily made her stand-up an art form, by combining it with a solo performance, character-driven monologues. Her brand of stand-up focuses on “culture types”. I strive to incorporate that into my comedy.
I eventually plan to combine my stand-up comedy and monologues into a new solo show. Lily is also the main Ambassador for my cinema series “Kat Kramer’s Films That Change The World.” We both advocate for the same social issues. Lily is the ultimate socially conscious comedienne. She shared “social commentary” through her original characters that spoke to audiences. Her role model was the late Ruth Draper, who was the “first” to write and perform humor pieces and monologues. They could relate, no matter what the generation.
My favorite comedy on Netflix is “Grace and Frankie” starring Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda. I pay homage to the show in my comedy. I also include a nod to Jane’s activism. She teamed up with Greenpeace in 2019 and launched her “Fire Drill Friday” rallies to motivate people to fight for environmental justice and combat climate change. I pay homage to Fonda and her fight to “save our planet.”
I am currently working on new material, for future bookings at The Comedy Chateau, and other clubs to be announced. As for my one-woman show, it’s in the works. I serve on the Advisory Board of the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival, and I will moderate a panel during virtual Empowerment Weekend September 17th-19th 2021. This 3-day seminar about the nuts and bolts of performing solo theatre will take place on Zoom. The panel I’m moderating is called “ Next Step: Navigating Theatre Post- Pandemic” on September 19th at 2 pm, PST. For info, please lawtf.org