Comedy god Joan Rivers once said that one of the perks to a comic’s lifestyle was being a “warm blanket to put around everyone.”
Five years ago I was introduced to Caitlin Gill primarily through her arms, affectionately referred to as “the scoops” (because they were forged by eating scoops of ice cream). Caitlin flexed mightily before pointing out a common influence on arms: gravity; waving “like your aunt” and poking fun at flesh. Since hearing that bit I’ve been enamored with Caitlin’s ability to write about herself in deprecating, honest and hilarious ways. “Lights off, tights off,” a reference to Classic Gill bit about wearing fishnet, is a personal manta. Being asked to make dirty talk “racist”—and finding a sexy compromise—is one of the coolest and the coldest pieces on structural racism. There’s always been a truth to self (as well as a truth to power) encompassed in the Napa native’s oeuvre, but, as witnessed at Caitlin Gill’s headlining set at Punch Line San Francisco, I was enthralled by a shift.
Caitlin—who recently made her national television debut, telling jokes on the SylvanHouse episode of FLOPHOUSE—commands attention. Over six-feet tall, asymmetrical spiky hairdo. This has always been true. Her work and talent as a writer, the rolling and rising and crashing and questioning and angles and payoffs and poignance was evident. As has been the case for a long time. Her timbre and cadence and candor and cascading poise and verbal dexterity in the tweaks and peaks of intonation, in celebration or in anxiety or in vulnerability, strengthened the potency her charisma. I’ve bathed in this glow many-a-time, in-social and in-crowd. The revelation of her headlining set at Punch Line San Francisco was that with that much time and that much talent, Caitlin Gill becomes a salve, a comfort, a strength, uplifting.
It was all a blur; the details and tales lost. I can remember the feeling though. A lived in warmth, like a late night gab at a friend’s (who’s really good at hosting parties) with like company, a soiree with a master raconteur. Surrounded by friends, and, in smirking coincidence in light of explicit shamelessness, her parents, Caitlin Gill felt like a release, a relief. Sure, pedantic and fun, but equally nourishing, secure.
Because it wasn’t not just cheap jokes, endearing effacement or pandering. There wasn’t a betrayal. Anecdotes of people mistaking her gender didn’t feel like an invitation to be laughed at, finding beauty in a Sasquatch hunt felt like a genuine embrace of delusional optimism. When Caitlin describes just wanting normal clothes at a larger size, or, how life’s a buffet, there’s a winding, narrative potency, a sincerity, a gentle rocking that assures everything’s going to be alright. It felt like affirmations as much as insecurities, armor out of wounds. To me, personally. Sexual fluidity, doubt, body image, embarrassment, all of it, all of it felt reflected, related, that I was wasn’t alone (and not the only one laughing).
I look forward to more quality, headliner-time with Caitlin, to strengthen my resolve and diminish my disjointedness. It was the warmest of blankets.