Belinda Carroll’s Knack For Being Funny
Comedian Belinda Carroll Talks About Being An Inborn Comedian, Going For It, And Where She Wants It To Take Her
The café in the Pacific Northwest coastal town was shaking with laughter as Portland-based comedian Belinda Carroll delivered the laughs straight up (so-to-speak) during the first annual EDEN Pacific Northwest.
This year the Portland-based comedian is back as a part of the comedic crew – that includes Julie Goldman and D’Lo – to deliver those punch lines that will leave the women doubled over in laughter during the all-girl weekend getaway in Seaside, Oregon, October 2 – 5.
Girls That Roam sat down with Belinda to chat about taking control of her life, what makes her laugh and which shores she wants to walk in the sand?
‘Oh, God! I’m 30’
In an “Oh God, I’m 30 moment,” Belinda, who was in corporate marketing and sales at the time, took stock of her life as a musician, political activist and her tampering with comedy and asked herself, “What type of 40-year-old do I want to be?”
“I was good at [corporate marketing and sales], but I was not as fulfilled as I could have been,” says Belinda, who was approached when she was 20 years old to pursue comedy, but didn’t act upon it at the time due to lack of opportunities in Portland. “So, I started standup comedy.”
It wasn’t until she followed a girl to Texas, first a year in Dallas and finally landing in Austin, that she began to develop her comedic chops studying with Tom Booker, who owned the Institution Theater in Austin and taught at Second City Chicago and Second City Los Angeles, that were founded by his mentor Del Close.
But what really got her going on her comedic rant? Sarah Palin, you know, “I can see Russia from my house,” Sarah? It was 2008. The Republican’s needed a woman to beat Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, so they plucked a spunky, attractive (depending on who you ask), Governor of Alaska Sarah.
“I actually got really angry about Sarah Palin getting nominated for the vice presidency in 2008,” says Belinda, 38, who has been a LGBT rights activist for about 20 years.
This lit a fire under Belinda, who had been taking improv classes in Austin, Texas where she left her Oregon roots to follow a girl for seven years. She wrote some jokes and then took them to an open mic night at the Cap City Comedy Club in Austin, Texas. That was 11 years ago and she hasn’t looked back since.
She moved back to her native Portland and has since been performing regularly three to four shows a week around the Pacific Northwest and even has completed some tours and appeared on the IFC’s Portlandia.
Comedy and politics dovetailed sweetly for her.
“It was kind of a natural extension for me to do comedy, because you know I’ve always in politics and sharing too much about my life,” says Belinda, who described herself as “always been very politically-minded.”
There’s never a dearth of material for her whether it’s personal or political. She often mixes up her nightly shows around the Pacific Northwest with jokes she’s written, events and issues pulled from the daily news, or the audience.
“A lot of the stuff that I do is extemporaneous,” says Belinda, adding that it all depends on her audience and how attentive they are. “I talk to the audience and I play with the audience and sometimes I do my written material too.”
Most of the time Belinda performs for mostly straight audiences, so it’s a relief for her to perform for all-women and LGBT audiences, she says.
“It’s like almost my vacation. I can just get up on stage and have fun,” says Belinda about performing for LGBT audiences.
Have fun she does. She opens up and lets it rip as GTR, who was a part of the EDEN PWN team last year, witnessed her comedic genius and how she got the room going. We were in stitches as the former drag king and singer turned comedian laid us out one punch line after another as we and the whole room doubled over in laughter.
“The reason why I like comedy versus other kinds of performing … [is because] comedy is your own creation,” says Belinda. “It’s one of the few things that you are entirely in control of what your creation is.”
Yet, it’s also challenging.
“It’s all challenging whenever you get in front of an audience and declaring what your opinion is and what your life is like,” says Belinda, whose audiences are usually straight. “There is always a bit of a challenge there because you never know how they are going to react to you.”
“I find challenging and just amazingly gratifying when it works on stage,” she adds.
Taking On The World
“I love traveling it’s one of my favorite things,” says Belinda, who loves Fort Lauderdale.
“I enjoy anywhere where there is sun, because there is no sun here,” says Belinda, joking, “so, if anybody wants to book me where it’s sunny, that would be great!”
Hinting at her goals, Belinda tells GTR that she’s aiming to perform on Olivia Cruises, the luxury lesbian travel company, is eyeing touring England and shooting at performing a one-woman show at Scotland’s Edinburgh’s famed Fringe Festival. In the meantime, she’s plugging away performing one day at a time and rejoicing in the surprises, such as appearing on Portlandia and touring with fellow comedians Ant and Sandra Valls.
In the meantime, she also enjoys traveling to small towns, such as Boise, Idaho, where she found an amazing crowd, she says.
“The audience was just flawless. It was the most amazing time,” says Belinda about Boise.
She’s looking forward to the audience at EDEN PNW in Seaside. She has fond memories of escaping to the coastal town to relax walking along the boardwalk, playing in the arcade and snacking on saltwater taffy.
“It’s a super fun little town. I think that it’s going to be really interesting to see what Seaside is going to look like being bombarded with lesbians,” says Belinda. “I think that’s going to be awesome.”
Tickets are still available for the Saturday night dinner and comedy show October 4 at the Twisted Fish (311 Broadway Street, 503-738-3467, TwistedFishSteakhouse.com). Dinner begins at 7:30 p.m., separate reservations required and ask to be seated with the EDEN PNW group. Show begins at 9 p.m. Tickets: $30.
For more information, visit EDENPNW.com.
Full Disclosure: Heather Cassell is the marketing and sponsorship director of EDEN Pride Events, which co-produces EDEN Pacific Northwest with The Seattle Lesbian and PQ Monthly. The Seattle Lesbian and PQ Monthly are media partners of Girls That Roam.
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