Mimi Gonzalez
Mimi Gonzalez

The Queer Queen of Qomedy alum keeps us laughing with her take on the new butch-femme.

Mimi Gonzalez grew up in inner-city Detroit and now spends 46 weeks a year on the road, performing comedy. When she’s not travelling, home is a walnut farm on five and a half acres in rural Michigan. She got her start in 1987 when she was a finalist for a “Funniest Person on Wall Street” segment on the Today show. She didn’t win, but the success propelled her to keep pursuing her dream to work full time as a stand-up comedian. Curve caught up with Mimi Gonzalez just as she was finishing her seventh season in Provincetown, Mass.

What are your three favourite things about Provincetown?

Women’s Week, because it’s the pot of gold at the end of the dirty rainbow. There are so many women, you can’t even get to flee all of them. I like all the women’s activities, like Girl Splash, Memorial Day Weekend, and Women of Color Weekend. Those are my favourite parts of P-town. And of course the beautiful environment. I’m a Pisces and Cuban, I love to swim and I’m really good at it, so I love the beaches. I also love the sense of the gay community. In P-town, I have friendships with my gay brothers and the girls. P-town is like connective tissue between the cells of my gay body and the skin of what I present to the world.

What keeps you going as a comic after all these years?

I’ve been a professional comic on the road for 14 years now. What keeps me going is the hardest thing that there is to do and that’s trying to break new material. You’ve got your “A” material, know what works, and lean on it. Creating new material is stepping out into the unknown and having my audience go with me.

For example, I threw some political stuff in last night and they just shut down. They did not want to hear it. They just wanted to hear something bawdy and playful and silly and they didn’t want to talk about the election. All right, back to it. And then the audience came right back with me. That’s a crazy feeling, to have the audience in your hand and watch them sift like sand, and then have to go back and pick that up again and hold it the right way, so it doesn’t leave you. So breaking new material is a little hard, but new material is the only thing that makes it worth doing because it makes you feel fresh.

That’s why comedy is an art and not a science. You can’t replicate your results every time. Something could just fall out of your mouth and just kill them that you had no idea you were going to say. The first time I ever told this joke about Kansas being so full of nothing but wheat that when you drive through your eyes get a yeast infection, that came flying out of my mouth on stage. It’s a great joke, but I had no idea where it came from. Some nights are so magical, you are flying. You are in the stratosphere of flight. And that’s interesting for a Pisces to say.

So, you’re really into the Zodiac…

I’m into the Zodiac. I’m into animalism—meaning “things of the earth”—and natural references. I’m in love with the earth.

I just performed a wedding for two friends of mine and I wrote some really beautiful things that I think are going to be the ideal for what I want in a partner and in a relationship. God knows I am chronically single. I don’t want to be. I want a healthy relationship, but I really can’t fake it. You might be able to fake some things, but you can’t fake love. I’m old enough, I recognize that everybody has baggage, and we’re just looking for someone whose luggage matches our set. At my age, I expect you to have just one piece of baggage, and it better fit under the seat in front of you. Or neatly in the overhead compartment, where I can’t see it until it’s time to get off the flight. God help us if we get off this love flight and we have to go to baggage claim and you need a Sherpa for all your shit. Because I am not carrying it. I’m gonna get my own cab out of here.

What’s it mean to be a stealth butch?

It means to be butch with long hair. That’s it. And if you’re a femme, you recognize the way I talk and the way I walk, and who I am is your butch complement, ready to escort you, my darling. I like the girly girls.

Tell me about what it was like playing for the troops.

That audience over there is one of the most grateful audiences ever. First of all, they’re a captive audience. I rarely get to play for a room full of people with guns, because I don’t play for my hometown of Detroit very often. I am a bleeding-heart liberal. The last thing I believe in is war. Least of all, an unjustified war like Iraq. But I’ve been to Iraq twice and Afghanistan once and what’s out there are working-class people, a lot of the young, who thought they were helping their country, who wanted to do anything they could after 9/11. There are a lot of straight guys in the audience and I do jokes to make them happy. Invariably, I end up selling a lot of those straight guys my “Trained by a Lesbian” T-shirt. So I am doing my part for lesbian invisibility by putting the word “lesbian” on thousands of men’s chests. We give them a show, they are so happy to have something different and a taste of home. hey love it, and they’re happy. It’s just one way of giving back just a little. (mimigonzalez.com)