By Kim Hogstrom
Houston’s own stand-up comedian Vickie Shaw is celebrating her 60th birthday in a big way, and everyone—LGBTQQIA and S (the entire alphabet)—is invited!
Shaw has assembled some of the most talented women in Texas for her birthday and “Super Bowl of stand-up comedy” to be held at South Shore Harbour Resort and Conference Center in League City on Friday, May 20, and Saturday, May 21. Expect food, drinks, and dancing ’til the wee hours, and more laughter than should be legal during this two-day event.
Now in her 20th year as a headliner with Olivia Cruises, Shaw has a remarkable background. She appeared in the movie Laughing Matters More, and she has performed on Comedy Central, in four comedy specials for the LOGO channel, and on “Late in Life Lesbians,” to name only a few of her credentials.
OutSmart was fortunate to spend a few minutes with the talented Shaw, talking about the origins of her comedy, her birthday, her life as a lesbian, and more. Read on!
Kim Hogstrom: Tell us about your background—are you from Houston?
Vickie Shaw: I was born in Beaumont, and grew up in Houston. I got married here and had all three of my kids here. I also got my start in the comedy clubs in Houston—the Laff Stop, the Comedy Workshop—all of them. The owners would sort of promote me among themselves, recommending me. They were very supportive.
When did you come out? Did it influence your work?
You know, I sort of started doing stand-up comedy and came out as a lesbian all at the same time. Comedy is about anger and truth, and comedy took me to a place in myself I had never been before. I thought, “Oh, so I’m a lesbian. Well, that explains a lot! What do I do now?” For a while in the 1990s, I was a puddle. A mess. I got a divorce and started life again from a new angle.
Did recognizing your truth change your comedy?
My act has always been about my life, so all of a sudden I am no longer a married woman with three kids! I’m single with kids, dating women. I had new material. That’s the thing about comedy—you can’t do it and maintain a wall between you and truth and your audience. You have to be open, to be honest. You have to be who you are.
Has that honesty resulted in hecklers interrupting your act?
I have never, ever been heckled. What I do see is men sitting with their arms crossed when I first get on the stage. Men sort of dare you to make them laugh. You have to prove to them that you are funny. Women, on the other hand, expect to be a part of the humor. They think, “Okay, here she goes making fun of our periods,” or something like that. They relax when they realize I’m not going to make them into a punch line.
Are straight audiences as receptive to your humor as gay audiences?
Yes, although sometimes I do hear straight guys say, “No, you’re not really gay, are you?” I always laugh and say, “Well yes, yes I am.” I think people respond well to my work because it’s funny and true. It’s also very rewarding for me, and there’s nothing I would rather do. It’s a good thing, too, because I’ve always said comedy is not something you choose to do, it’s something you have to do.
Tell us about your Big 60 Birthday Party—how can we attend?
On Friday, May 20, we’ve arranged for a giant show with dinner and dancing at South Shore Harbour Resort in League City. Six entertainment greats will be appearing, including Kate Clinton, Suede, Roxanna Ward, Lisa Koch, Karen Williams, Jennie McNulty, and of course, myself. We have a range of ticket prices to accommodate any budget, and South Shore Harbour even offered us special room prices for the weekend. Plus, Olivia Cruises is raffling a free cruise for two that night, so some lucky person will win right there. And the entire event is a fundraiser benefiting Houston’s Lesbian Health Initiative. LHI has taken good care of me over the years, and it’s time to return that.
On Saturday, May 21, we’re all performing again at South Shore, then moving the entire party to my (and my partner of 17 years) house in League City where there will be a really special surprise. For those considering attending the best party ever, I recommend putting a hold on a room at South Shore Harbour. For more information or tickets, go to vickieshaw.com. Everyone is invited—hope we see you there!
What: Vickie Shaw’s 60th Birthday Bash
When: May 20–21
Where: South Shore Harbour Resort and Conference Center, 2500 South Shore Blvd., League City
Kim Hogstrom is a guest contributor to OutSmart magazine. She is also a documentary film producer and slave to a spoiled Chihuahua.