After seeing Candy Lawrence perform, it’s hard to croak out much more than a “She’s awesome” and utter a sigh reminiscent of your Tiger Beat days. Her talent is the stuff my comedy teen dreams were made of as she is able to play off the wall ala Penny Marshall’s Laverne, showcase the physical comedy chops of Lucille Ball with Molly Shannon’s playful energy, Kristen Wiig’s wit and Gilda’s loveable quirk. All while being very much Candy, a modest and dynamic old-comedy soul that seems far more experienced than her few years in the business would suggest.
“I’ve been doing stand-up for approximately three years, but I’ve been pursuing comedy for about 10 years,” Candy said. “After I graduated college, I studied sketch and improvisation at The Second City. I was living in Buffalo, New York at the time and I was tired of traveling three hours to Canada and so I moved to Chicago to pursue comedy. I wanted to do stand-up for a long time, but was always too scared. Like the kind of scared I get when I watch too much Law and Order: SVU and I think there are dead bodies everywhere. It wasn’t until Adam Guerino asked me to do stand-up &mdash’ and I happened to be drunk and fearless &mdash’ and I said yes. Guess where my first show was? Berlin, a gay night club. I’m basically Cher.”
Candy Lawrence, or Comedy Lawrence as she is often referred, is one of the most honestly relatable comics to come out of Chicago. Her knack for physical comedy, impressions and facial contortions is reminiscent of a friend retelling a great story, except she’s on stage, effortlessly playing off of the energy of a room full of people. She is everywhere, as a regular cast member at Chicago’s Underground Comedy to The Lincoln Lodge and almost every other well-known show in-between. I was able to catch her auditioning for this year’s Just For Laughs festival where she seamlessly bounced between stories of coming out of the cupboard and impressions of both her grandmother and Kate Winslet. She has something for everyone.
“I’ve played to several predominantly queer audiences and they definitely get my U-Haul jokes more than any other audience. But, I never alter my material for anyone,” Canday said. “Sometimes I survey the audience and think about it for a second, but I can’t change who I am. I can’t change how I think. I had this show at a sports bar not too long ago and I looked around and everyone looked like Tucker Max and there was also one cool mom in the audience and I was like, “Oh, fuck. This is not going to go well.” And I was just myself and talked about smooth jazz and they loved it. And if you can talk about jazz and Hootie and the Blowfish at John Barleycorn and have the time of your life you can do anything! They really surprised me!”
And she surprises audiences, as you’re never quite sure where she’ll take you next, or the lengths she’ll go to to nail an impression. It’s that level of physical comedy that makes her so unique. Never before had I truly understood the term “rubber face” until I first saw Candy’s set.
“I’ve always been a fan of Jim Carrey, “ Candy said, “and he’s very physical. I went to school for Theatre and I auditioned to get into the school with a piece from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. I got a scholarship. Alrighty then.”
Her drive is infectious and she is definitely someone who’s success seems imminent. Asked about being a lesbian comic in Chicago, Candy claims “I won’t be named top lesbian comic until I get a bowl cut.” And while modesty seems to also be one of Candy’s amazing talents, a quick survey of Chicago comedy goers list Candy as a crowd favorite. So did Chicago magazine, calling her one of Chicago’s top comedians. But not for long as she’s already given thought to making the big move to Los Angeles.
“I actually plan to move in September,” Candy said. “After I save up enough gold coins and buy a scooter.”
Until then, it is in your best interest to catch her while you can. Her schedule, as seen at ComedyLawrence.com, is hectic. Tonight (Tuesday, March 26) she’ll be at Zanies opening for James Adomian at Zanies. In April, she will be performing at Bridgetown Comedy Fest in Portland and, I’ll go ahead and call it now, at Chicago’s Just For Laugh’s Festival this June.