The Rainbow Connection Comedy Tour is a new, full-spectrum standup comedy tour from the creator of Stand Out: The National Queer Comedy Search. Touring the Midwest this week (kicking off tonight in Chicago), the shows will be headlined by Los Angeles-based comedian Casey Ley, hosted by Adam Guerino, and featuring out comedians Marla Depew, Dina Nina Martinez and Rachel McCartney. In preparation for the tour, the ladies discussed their inspirations, memorable moments and why Cameron Esposito should add Comedic Sensei to her resume.
Marla Depew is the co-producer and cast member of Just Dickin’ Around, a women’s comedy collective that produces women-laden, queer-friendly comedy shows, and the founder and producer of Laughs In The Lounge, a queer-friendly monthly showcase in Chicago. Finding inspiration in Carol Burnett, she describes her comedic persona as a throwback to the old-fashioned yuk-yuk vibe inspired by her first comedy loves. Depew blends sharp observations that challenge conventional thinking when waxing witty about being the B in GLBT saying, “There’s a lot of misinformation/misunderstanding/blatant denial of bisexuality so I especially love telling my bi joke in an attempt to combat some of that.”
AfterEllen.com: When did you first know you wanted to do comedy?
Marla Depew: Comedy was my defense mechanism and way to deal with a less-than-great childhood. As long as I was making people laugh, they weren’t yelling at me or telling me I was a terrible person. I remember being five or six and scream-laughing while watching old Jerry Lewis/Dean Martin matinees. I also loved Don Knots and Dom DeLuise, and everything Carol Burnett did.
AE: I recently read the comment, “Women can be a lot of great things, but rarely funny.” Do you think addressing the “Are women funny” argument is passé?
MD: I get tired of the question: Are women funny? because I think that’s insulting and ridiculous. But if people want to actually have a sincere conversation about why there are less women in comedy (and in many professional areas) and get to the root of the whys, then I’m down for that discussion. I see the number of women in comedy rising, particularly in Chicago. I think a lot of the increasing numbers in Chicago can be traced back to Cameron Esposito, who was troubled by the dearth of women in the comedy world so much so that she started a class called Feminine Comique. Fem Com is a course (now taught by the hilarious Kelsie Huff) that teaches women to construct jokes, figure out their unique voice, and support the fuck out of each other. I took it with Cameron in 2009 and have been loving standup ever since.
AE: What part of touring are you most excited about?
MD: I think my fellow Chicagoan and Rainbow Connection tourmate Rachel McCartney is amazingly hilarious—her stuff is so smart, and she keeps coming up with more and more! She’s a wellspring of great jokes.
AE: What else are you working on?
MD: I am in the zygote stages of writing a one-woman show about my dad, who was a right-wing Evangelical Fundamentalist who later got dementia and died of Parkinson’s disease. It’s going to be a comedy.