Dressed in a slinky black cocktail dress and spunky Beatle boots, Natasha Leggero strutted with sarcasm and sass during the first show in her four-night run at Comedy Works last night. Delivering her characteristic bitter commentary on politics and lowbrow culture (sweetened by an Audrey Hepburn forgive-me wink), Leggero caustically riffed on home paternity tests, the TLC series My Strange Addiction, and why women had it better when they were sold as property.
It may come off as sexist to prattle on about what this female comic wore to her standup comedy show, but that was probably the point: Political questions like that become mute in the face of a fox-skin fur draped over one shoulder, whose piercing black eyes stared down each audience member down throughout the set, daring you to laugh. This, complemented by a set of girls'-best-friend glamourpuss earrings and a post-prom hair-bun, gave Leggero a mod-classic elegance, reminiscent of a long-dead era of female subservience -- a sentiment that stood in contrast to her uncompromising feminism.
"I'm just glad Mitt Romney didn't get elected," she said, playing with the deceased feet of her cosmetic fox. "That was going to be fucked up for women, because we were going to have to plan our abortions around trips to Cabo. That was going to be my plan B. Sipping a margarita while a pool boy runs suntan lotion on my dead baby.... You guys didn't like that one?"
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For the most part, Leggero's Betty Boop routine -- where she plays the hopelessly spoiled princess you can't stay angry at -- is a smart joke that questions and reclaims female identity. And this was either contradicted or reinforced (depending on your perspective) by how relentlessly cruel she was in her crowd work toward the males in the audience. When the inevitably awkward moment came for crowd members to settle their checks during the headliner's set, Leggero noticed a couple in the front row, where a female date was paying for both herself and her man's drinks. (Keep in mind, the man had already reluctantly admitted to the comic earlier in the night that he was unemployed.)
"Why are the women paying? What is happening? He's unemployed, and you're hot, why is this happening?" At this point, Leggero grabbed the check and cash out of the woman's hand, read the check and tossed it into the air, along with the bills. "Two Coors Lights? You couldn't pay for two Coors Lights? This is what we're supposed to be procreating with? How long have you been together? This is their third date. I have the same problem: We're pretty, why should we have to pay for our meal? At least for five dates, they should fucking feed us."
Straight off his performances at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival in Portland, local comic Troy Walker hosted the evening with some snappy hometown material about being black in Colorado. "I know so much shit that a 27-year-old black man should not know how to do. I can ski, I can snowboard, I can fuckin' pan for gold. Black people never pan for gold -- I've done it multiple times."
Leggero's L.A. buddy Benji Aflalo chose some brazen material for his opening act, challenging the Denver audience with "You guys got legal weed now, right? That's wonderful, because now, finally, the Denver Broncos can get a sack."
He also delivered some healthy P.C. tension when he went into ethnic territory, commenting on being a privileged Jewish son raised by the Mexican help in Beverly Hills. "There's a Mexican population here, right? They're very fertile people. I don't know how you guys reproduce like you do. Is it if you feed a Mexican after midnight or pour water on them they start procreating?... A Mexican man is so fertile that if he comes on the carpet, a cat tree will grow."
But it was Natasha Leggero who ultimately twisted the political wigs of the audience with her graceful dance through delicate territories.
Leggero on child care: "I was just reading on the news this week about a woman who left her child in the dryer of a laundry-mat. That is so sad. Can you believe people still have to go to the laundry-mat? I will never be pregnant...for long."
Leggero on race relations: "I'm from Los Angeles, and we have this new thing called the L.A. Gang Tours. It's a tour bus that takes you to the most dangerous parts of Los Angeles. It's $100 a seat, and it's sold out through the summer. And, you know, it's just a bunch of white people in safari outfits who want to look at minorities through bulletproof glass. 'Oh, Harold, ever since that N.W.A song, I have been dying to see Compton! Oh, I hope it comes with a bag of crack so we can feed them!'"
Leggero on women's advancement: "Today, there is very little point to a man. We used to have it so good. We didn't have to do shit: Our Dad would give some guy some land and some money, and we could just relax. To get a husband, all we had to do was twist our dimples and talk like a three-year-old. And then if he didn't give us what we wanted, we could just faint. They used to have couches made just for fainting. It's so hard today. I have a guy I'm practicing emotions on now."
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For more comedy commentary, follow me on Twitter at @JosiahMHesse.