Harvard Crimson, February 20 1998 THEATER
Liebman a Real Laugh Machine
It was late at
night in Boston, and the Comedy Connection at Faneuil Hall was packed.
On stage, Wendy Liebman brushed aside a lock of highlighted hair and
gave an enormous grin to the audience. The topic of discussion: her
recent trip to Hawaii. "I bought a three-piece bikini," she
confessed. "It's a top, a bottom, and a blindfold for you."
But what did she do on vacation? Well, what didn't she do? "I didn't
surf," she answered. "I don't like to surf. I don't even like
to channel surf. You guys like it don't you? You like to change the
channel. We like to change...you."
Over the past
few years, Wendy Liebman's status in the stand-up comedy world has soared
from cult favorite to nationally known sensation. The secret? Her ability
to drop nuclear-strength punch lines in a palpitating heartbeat. Donning
a huge, friendly smile, Liebman breezes through her quips with a voice
full of sunshine, you'd never believe that girl just said that.
I'm an insomniac,
so I spend a lot of time at Kinko's," she told the audience this
past weekend. "They're open 24 hours, and they have to be. Their
employees are so fucking slow." She stopped. Her eyes widened and
her hand flew over her mouth. "Oops- I just said the F-word!"
She stopped and grinned again. "Well, it's okay. I spelled it with
In an MTV-generation
world where sound bites are gospel and cynicism is a religion, Liebman's
comedic style is a virtual gold mine. She rips into her subjects with
the speed and voracity of the average piranha. If you're not paying
attention, forget it- her delicious bomb shells-on-crack fly by so quickly
that if you stop to find out what the last one was, chances are you'll
miss the next three.
Although her basic
delivery remains the same throughout the performance, Liebaman's jokes
themselves do not fall into a particular genre. They range from self-deprecating
(I'm the worst driver. I should drive a hearse and cut out the middle
man") to gender-related ("I like it when a man cries...when
I hit him. No, I would never hit a man...if he were awake") to
the just plain bizarre ("I don't do drugs because I saw what they
did to my friends. I got really stoned, and they looked really weird").
Although her repertoire
at the Comedy Connection Valentine's Day performance consisted mainly
of jokes recycled from Liebman's stints on HBO, MTV's "Half-Hour
Comedy " and "Politically Incorrect" (to name just a
few of her television appearances), the lines still kept the crowd obviously-avid
fans roaring with laughter.
of the 1997 American Comedy Award for Best Female Stand-up, even introduced
some local flavor to into her show. After realizing that a group of
Harvard students were in the audience, Liebman smiled in approval. "In
'79, my brother went to Harvard. Now he's a sophomore," she quipped.
"He's on that layaways plan."
crowd that night was almost entirely free of hecklers. But the show
did have its occasional bumps. At one point, Liebman had just been kidding
around about...kids. "I can't have kids. They're not in my lease,"
she laughed as silence filled the room. "Okay, what the hell happened?"
she asked. An audience member informed her that in the opening act,
a local comic named Brian Kylie, had told nearly the exact same joke:
"My wife's about to have our second child, and we're very happy,
because we were told we couldn't have kids...by our landlord."
Never missing a beat, Liebman pointed toward the backstage area where
Kylie was waiting and, to the audience's delight yelled, "So we
both stole it!"
the mood of the evening remained enjoyable, alternating between delightfully
mellow and raucously fast-paced. Kylie, the opening act, lacked Liebman's
razor-sharp style, but delivered a truly enjoyable program without having
to fall back onto overly crass humor. "I had to work to put myself
through school. I sold encyclopedias in college," he reminisced
near the end of his performance. "When the librarian found out,
she was pissed. No, seriously, school has always been scary for me.
The very first day of school, my parents dropped me off at the wrong
nursery. I didn't know anyone...(and there were) lots of trees."
Despite the huge
amounts of money raked in by greeting card, candy manufacturing, and
floral-arrangement companies, Valentine's Day is still mourned every
year by many people in America, single and single-at-heart alike. Fortunately,
the mood this past weekend at the Comedy Connection was anything but
mournful, thanks to the charmingly hyper comic humor of Wendy Liebman.
Much more than
a mere professional male-basher, Liebman once again proved herself to
be the sensitive yet vicious mistress of stand-up comedy that keeps
audiences laughing again and again. "Is there a doctor in the house?"
she asked near the conclusion of her act, "My mother wants me to
If the crowd's
reaction proved anything, it proved that laughter is better than any
kind of medicine as a cure for the Valentine's Day blues.