The Michigan Daily Tuesday, February 18, 1992 Page 5
Comedy doesn't Leifer behind
There's more than Tampax jokes to Carol Leifer. She's not just a
"woman comedian," but a biting, gender-bending wit.
Mainstreet Comedy Showcase
February 13, 1992
Who is Carol Leifer?
"I know she does Caroline's Co-
medy Hour ... I should've seen her,"
said Eric Kurit.
"I just know her from the Ca-
roline's thing on A&E. And I saw
her on Letterman once," said Joel
"I've seen her a few times on TV.
She's one of the bigger comedi-
ennes," said Jen Balaban.
Leifer, who performed last week-
end at the Mainstreet Comedy
Showcase, was probably unaware
that these three student comedians,
each of whom has stood up on the
same stage as she did, weren't famil-
iar with her work. But that didn't af-
fect her routine. The jovial comedi-
enne interacted with the small
Thursday night audience as if in a
living room full of friends, almost
breaking the invisible barrier be-
tween us and herself, interspersing
peppy talk between jokes.
In telling us that she was going to
be on the radio the next day, and that
we should all listen, Leifer admitted
she didn't remember the station. "I
know the guy is really popular, re-
ally big," she said. Two women sug-
gested WRIF. "Maybe with him,
Riff, Griff, I don't know," Leifer
said, unwittingly prompting laughs
from the cognizant crowd.
In a field where women are most
definitely making strides, but still
hitting obstacles, Leifer is one of
what Zimmer calls, "The First
Ladies of Comedy." Kurit agrees.
"It's difficult for women to do com-
edy - automatically they're stereo-
typed as a 'woman comedian.'
(They) have to do what people ex-
pect from them. You get women
talking about women's issues, and
talking about using a tampon for ex-
ample excludes half the audience."
"Most of the people I admire are
men," said Balaban. "It's hard to
find a female comedian who's good.
I don't know the reason why there
aren't more women. Sometimes men
have more of a universal appeal;
women are seen as being capable of
wearing only 'women-colored'
glasses - tampon jokes. I'm not
saying there aren't Andrew Dice
Clays, but often men are in a posi-
tion to launch male comedy, and
they find more males appealing."
Only mentioning tampons once,
in reference to Wilfred Brimley be-
ing such an overused spokesman
that he would next be advertising
Tampax, Leifer avoids the tradi-
tional women's words and often
turns the spotlight on herself. "Do
you know who invented penicillin?"
she asked the audience, not waiting
for an answer. "I was doing some
reading on it the other day - be-
cause, you know, my social life is on
fire ..." she concluded sarcastically.
Balaban described Leifer's style
in terms of her peers. "She's not re-
ally offensive. She's not a Rosie
O'Donnell, but she's not as clean as
Bill Cosby. And she's not like
Steven Wright, where you have to
think about his comedy."
Zimmer said, "Paula Poundstone,
Elaine Boosler, Carol - they don't
do typical women jokes. Female
comedians, you find they talk about
women's products, bitching about
men. That's a generalization, I
know. But they're (Poundstone,
Boosler, Leifer) straight-up. They
write jokes outside of that. They talk
about relationships like men do, but
while men bitch about women, the
proportion generally isn't the same.
"They're (Poundstone, Boosler,
Leifer) top comediennes and it
shows because they have a different
style, and have earned respect."
Leifer tended to avoid bashing
anyone. When describing her phone
problems with a non-English speak-
ing car mechanic, the emphasis of
the joke was on her general frustra-
tion at having a difficult last name
rather than on the man's inability to
get it straight. "If it's an uncomfort-
able situation," said Zimmer, "peo-
ple say, 'What should we do? Let's
Leifer steered clear of what are
termed "gross jokes," as well; topics
that make people uncomfortable or
just don't have staying power. Zim-
mer and Balaban have the same
philosophy. "I stay away from dick
jokes. That's not going to get you on
TV. I can go to clubs and talk about
my penis for two hours, but that's
too easy. It's not for TV," explained
"My comedy is twisting sex roles
Carol Leifer seems pretty satisfied with her position as one of the first ladies
of stand-up comedy. Though many local-yocals may not have heard of her,
IAM nntneithlt eh MAAA1 nran l n W I VIIIdIII 1
we contend that she blows creeps IliKeI
around," said Balaban. "Thinking
about things in a different context. I
try not to be too dirty. My mom can
sit and listen to me and not smack
me upside the head afterwards ...
even if I make fun of my mother and
my family. I do comedy like some
do drugs, others do homework."
Hitting the mainstream is some-
thing that doesn't come easy. Bala-
ban said, "Unless you get money,
mobin Wiiiiams away.
like a Jerry Seinfeld or a Robin
Will-iams, $17,000 for performing;
you spend nights in hotels with hedl
marks on the headboards." Leifer
doesn't seem like she's in danger'of
falling victim to the Put-A-Quarter
In-The-Bed syndrome; her humor
can reach everyone. Hopefully othet
women will one day be joining her
in the swim of things.
Elaine Boosler and Jerry Seinfeld may be on cable a lot, but neither is as
cute as Carol Leifer. Boosler, at least, is not a man, and her curly, comedian
hairstyle (notice how she copied Leifer) is bouncy, perky perfect
Imagine a carnival. It's summer-
time, and as a young boy you know
this is supposed to be fun. But the
clowns seem a little scary, the barker
a little too frantic, and the cotton
candy makes your stomach queasy.
As you round a corner of a tent to
vomit, an enormous, ugly freak tow-
ers above your head, smiling in-
sanely as he grabs your shoulder and
promises you "a good tune." He
shoves you into a small room and
drops his pants. Your parents are
nowhere to be found.
Now, imagine that on record.
Mr. Bungle is the audio equiva-
lent of a David Lynch movie; one
part the mocking white suburbia of
Blue Velvet, the other the twisted
freak of society's nightmares in The
Elephant Man. Edgy, varied and
completely ignorant of conventional-
ity, Mr. Bungle is a lunatic binge of
metal, funk, jazz, rap, rock and car-
nival music, all fitting together in a
Led by Faith No More's Mike
Patton (under the pseudonym Vlad
Drac) and his offbeat lyrics,
"Travolta" kicks off the album in a
funky metal mesh that equates a
paraplegic circus disco freak with
Hitler and Patrick Swayze. "Squeeze
Me Macaroni" and "The Girls of
Porn" are hilariously blunt descrip-
tions of sexual perversity, backed
with rapid tempo changes, a funky
'70s porn beat and wailing metal
Jazzcore legend John Zorn brings
his own sense of fast piercing hard-
core and jazz sensibility to the mu-
sic, keeping it focused and fluid
even at its most bizarre musical tan-
gent. Clever sampling, ranging from
turntables in various songs to lan-
guage tapes to extensive quoting
from Blue Velvet, also keeps the al-
Mr. Bungle is an audio assault -
as much an attack on the senses as a
brilliant musical statement. Musi-
cally and lyrically it stays original,
never .keeping to one genre or one
Just for A Day
While bands like Swervedriver,
Chapterhouse, Ride, and the rest of
the new wave of British "shoe-
gazers" pillage Psychocandy and old
Dinosaur Jr. records for inspiration,
the sublime Slowdive seems content
with just a Cocteau Twins disc or
two, and a box of Kleenex.
Just For A Day is the most gor-
geously sad collection of heartbreak
and loss since the days Morrissey
could make you cry. Unlike their
bliss rock contemporaries, Slowdive
doesn't attempt to fuse any hip hop
beats or manic washes of guitar
feedback into their surreal, oceanic
sound. Instead, they build pretty,
floating clouds of ambient heaven.
The only contact these angels might
have had with Jesus and Mary Chain
records was through their painfully
hip older brothers.
The perfect reference point for
this disc is The Moon And The
Melodies, the (almost) Cocteau
Twins record that featured Harold
Budd, along with Twins Robin
Guthrie and Elizabeth Fraser. Like
that album, this record is more a col-
lection of moods than songs. Each
track washes over you in a warm,
All of this beautiful misery
reaches epic proportions on songs
like "Brighter" and the aptly titled
"Waves." Neil Halsted and the an-
gelic Rachel Goswell's voices inter-
twine deliciously with the dense fog
of echoed guitars and airy drums,
erupting into one glorious noise.
Just For A Day is the perfect
remedy for those winter blues.
Rachel's divine, velvety croon alone
is well worth the price of admission.
Those eyes, those lips- Hachel Uoswell is such a dreamboat.
Slowdive is a band that understands
that being alone and depressed is
sometimes a beautiful place to be.
Robyn Hitchcock and the
Perspex Island is comprised of
eleven tracks of Robyn Hitchcockian
musical conversation. The subjects
range from angels to the Grim Rea-
per to warped visions of love. Unlike
previous Hitchcock and the Egyp-
tians releases, like Fegmania! and
Globe of Frogs, Perspex is filled
with accessible rhythms and me-
lodies that the listener can grab and
This album presents a catchy new
perspective on Hitchcock's music.
He throws off the metaphorical mask
he usually employs and makes sim-
ple statements - "But if you don't
love yourself, what's the use in
someone else loving you" - that
carry strong messages. Hitchcock
seems to have found a medium that
simultaneously displays his slightly
skewed view of the world and his
striking musical talents.
Hitchcock uses a wide range of
subject material for his fantastic
creations. Vegetables, television, hi-
storical figures, relationships, *atd
even balloons are twisted and turnod
See RECORDS, Pag68
February 19, 1992
12:00 to 4:00 pm
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