OutSmart yukked it up with Vickie Shaw before her April 24 Houston benefit show at Resurrection MCC.
Steven Foster: You’ve got a busy tour schedule this month—California, Florida, New York, then Dallas and Houston.
Vickie Shaw: I do. I do. Every weekend. It’s terrific. Last year it was pretty much every weekend. I was on the road every weekend until about December. And it’s looking like it’s gonna be busy again this year, too. I’m working on a tour with another comedian, Jessica Kirson. If that goes through, it’s gonna be busy. The bad thing is that you’re on the road a lot. The good thing is that you’re workin’!
For those who don’t know your comedy very well, you came out as a lesbian and a comic at the same time, yes?
Yes. Comedy was actually a catalyst to coming out. Because comedy is about emotion and what you feel, and so [in doing] my comedy I had begun to get in touch with that part of me that I had been denying and ignoring all those years. It was an interesting way to do it. But it’s not normal, I would say that.
The best comedians come from a place of honesty and pain. I guess your story would track with that.
You can’t be a comedian without being honest, without being yourself. Your comedy is who you are. That’s kinda what happened. All of a sudden, one day I just went, Oh my gosh, I’m a lesbian. I didn’t know that. Oh dear. What do I do now?
How long have you been out?
Gosh, at least 14 years.
And you have two sons and a daughter?
Yeah, and they were young when I came out. Hayley was 7, and the boys were 12 and 14 at the time. And they’d go to the clubs with me, and Pride events, and P-town. They were my little workers!
And you have a granddaughter, right?
Actually, the third one is due any day now. Yeah, we’re gonna have three little girls. And they live with us.
God. How many people live in your house?
Well, it’s me and my partner, my son and his wife, and the two little girls with a third one coming, and then my daughter and her fiancé who are getting married this summer. So we all live here. We’re looking at the Census form and we’re getting ready to fill that out. We’ve got nine people, so it’s a never-ending plethora of material.
They should be asking you for a 20% cut, because they’re providing you with at least that much material.
And they do. They ask for it all the time.
Comedy books do so well these days. You should write a book.
I’ve thought about it, but it scares me. It’s something I’ve never done before. And a one-woman show—I really want to work on that. I’m gonna call it The Bible According to Vickie. Or The DaVickie Code.
I love The DaVickie Code. That’s awesome. Tell us about the MCC gig.
It all started in Houston when I first did open mic. [Then while my partner Jenny and I lived in Illinois,] we had done some fundraisers for a bunch of MCC churches all over the U.S. [So after we moved back to Houston, I called Resurrection MCC] and said, “This is what we’ve been doing, and it’s a great way to get people to come to you, since a lot of people who don’t usually go to church will come to the show.” It’s kind of a win-win, and they said, “Hey, why don’t we do this for our 38th anniversary?” So they’re all excited about it, and I’m really looking forward to it. We just did [an MCC show] in Austin, and then we’ll do the Dallas and Houston ones.
Excellent. Lemme ask you, who’s your favorite comic right now?
One of my favorite comics is Lewis Black. I really did like Wanda Sykes’ HBO special. I’ve always liked her. And another comic I love, but he hasn’t been doing a lot of standup lately, is Eddie Izzard. I love his stuff. He’s a genius.
I love your taste. It’s just like mine. [Both laugh] Give the people some advice. What’s your best antidepressant?
Yeah. A pill? A really good joke? A martini?
Oh! A martini.
Are you a gin or a vodka girl?
Vodka. Extra dirty. And if you have bleu cheese stuffed olives, I’ll love you forever.
So where were you on the whole late-night comedy thing? Were you Team Conan or Leno?
I don’t watch either one of ’em, to be quite honest with you. Isn’t that terrible? I like Conan. I always thought Leno was kinda goofy, but that’s NBC for ya.
What’s your favorite part of touring?
Making people laugh. I get to go on stage and make people laugh.
And the worst?
You’ve done Olivia Cruises, right?
For the uninitiated, tell us a little bit about those.
Well, they’re not just for lesbians. Straight women can come on them, too. I think that the Olivia cruises are so empowering [for lesbians. It’s often] the only time they’re able to be out with their partner, or [for single women to be able to meet other women]. A lot of [these women] are from small towns and very homophobic areas of the country. We forget about that sometimes. Living in the big cities, we forget. And every time I go, I come back feeling empowered. Everyone uplifts each other. We’re all in the same boat, confronted with a lot of the same issues. Whether you’re a parent, or coming out, or young, or old. And it’s really neat to watch these older women who’ve been in the closet their whole lives and see them come out. I mean, they’re lesbians, and they’ve lived with their lesbian “friend” since they were in high school, but they finally come out. There’s an empowerment there. I can come out. I can do this. I always tell people to do what they can. Join a gay rights group, or volunteer, or do something in your community. Do what you can. We have to encourage each other. And that’s what I love about those trips. You’re in these beautiful locations, and you meet all these people from all walks of life, and you’re being acknowledged. You’re exactly right. You’re being just how you’re supposed to be. You’re perfect. Just like you are. And sometimes I don’t think we get enough of that.
Steven Foster is a regular contributor to OutSmart magazine.
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