It's Feminist to be a Hypocrite

Written and performed by Laura Dinnebiel
Surf Reality
Non-union production (Closed; will return)
Review by John Michael Koroly

If there is a line delineating stand-up comedy from "solo theatre," Laura Dinnebiel is currently traversing it. Dinnebiel has been steadily garnering recognition (and a following) in alternative comic circles. In her own gigs and as host of her hard-core cabaret Sunday nights at Collective Unconscious on Ludlow St., she is immediately recognizable as a cut apart from most of the clones in the industry.

Every five years or so, someone is dubbed "the new Lenny Bruce," but Dinnebiel is giving ever more frequent reasons to believe it this time. Her brashness and audacity often shock a lot more than the truckload of profanity she uses. Ironically, she shocks precisely because she's not trying to; she just exhales and rude, pointed, acerbic energy rolls out. And there aren't any self-described "performance artists" who are a third as genuinely confrontational as this comedian. (This extends to the audience, as well. She just about verbally raped a heckler the night of this performance.)

Her show, an attempt to go beyond her ten-minute sets, still retains the discursive structure of a stand-up act. But more serious ruminations do crop up and even the straight jokes have a more contemplative feel to them. As would be inferred from the title, her material deals largely with sexual politics and the head games played by both genders. A bit sour on relationships, she categorizes dating as "a long tedious interview for a job I don't know if I really want." She is almost violently conflicted on men: "I hate dick; I guess that's why I chase it so much." But, an out bisexual, she's been on the receiving end of female manipulation, too, and is "really starting to understand where misogynists are coming from." Don't be too quick to label her, though; she resents being "stuck in a box labeled `rebel clit."' Most of these lines are shot out while Dinnebiel chain-smokes feverishly, her arm resting on the mike stand.

In a show as inchoate as this (it's very much a work-in-progress), there are plenty of opportunities for improvement. Dinnebiel needs to go into more autobiographical detail. Whining about past victimization, that inescapable fixture of downtown performance circles, would seem unthinkable to her. But, when she quips about how she was manipulated by A.A.'s 12-step gospel, there is a palpable need for context and elaboration to which she could bring her caustic wit. And her experiences as the comic in the ultra-hip Tribeca strip club, The Blue Angel, should make great fodder for anecdotes and observation.

Dinnebiel should seize these opportunities as she distills the text of her show from performance to performance. Watch for it

Box Score:
Writing 1 Directing N/A Acting 2 Set N/A Costumes 1 Lighting/Sound 1 Copyright 1996 John Michael Koroly
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