Kate Sedgwick, ‘It’s time to declare what you believe in’

If you’ve stumbled into a comedy show in this town at any point in time over the past several years, you’ve probably caught one of Kate Sedgwick’s sets. She has a direct sense of humor that ranges from blunt to flat-out antagonistic. As a child, Sedgwick’s family spent a lot of time moving, before settling in Louisville when she was 9. Sedgwick graduated from the renowned and highly-competitive performing arts school Interlochen Center for the Arts in Interlochen, Michigan, where she studied theater. After recovering from a life-altering bicycling accident, Sedgwick relocated to Buenos Aires, Argentina, a destination that had long captivated her imagination. And it was there where she would soon uncover a passion for comedy. It wasn’t until later — while living in Argentina — that the comedy bug bit her. After which it didn’t take long for comedy to become her passion and primary pursuit in life. This week, Sedgwick will be closing a year of Kaijuesday comedy shows by performing a co-headlining set with local punk-rock outfit Boner City.

LEO: So how did a Kate Sedgwick/Boner City show come to be?

Kate Sedgwick: This was totally [local comic and LAFF Fest promotions co-founder] Dan Alten’s idea. I think he’s been talking about it for at least six months. He would walk around saying: ‘I’m going to make a Kate Sedgwick and Boner City split bill.’ And then asking everyone what they thought of the idea. I guess enough people told him to do it.

What is it about your two acts that made him think you all would have an awesome comedy-punk rock dynamic?

[Laughs] Well, they’re some wacked-out gender-punks, too — I guess that’s the link. I think it’s going to be a really fun show with a lot of other local comedians on the bill, as well.

Going back, how did stand-up comedy come into your life?

I was living in Argentina, and I was running a storytelling show there at the time. I had always loved stand-up as an art form, but I was always too chicken-shit to do it. And then someone started an English language stand-up show down there. I went to the first show and just kept hanging around after that, until eventually they gave me five minutes. I loved it. After a while I decided I had to move back to the states, because this was something I really wanted to do — and Argentina was not really the place to do it.

I would imagine. In what ways was it different doing stand-up in Argentina as opposed to performing stateside?

It was billed as an English-language show, so most of the people there were people who spoke English as a second language. They could have been Argentinian, or they could have been from anywhere — it was kind of a melting pot. You would get people from all over the world. For me, I was very careful about the pop-culture references I would make, because a lot of the crowd might obviously not understand what I was talking about. And maybe that’s just my style now but I still don’t do it — I still don’t put pop-culture references in my material.

So you came back to Louisville.

Yeah, it’s pretty much my hometown. As it turned out, when I got here, there was a really strong scene happening here. There were lots of shows and lots of open-mics, so it was a really great environment where someone could really start working on becoming a stand-up.

You being a member of the LGBTQ community, how do you feel America proceeds under a Donald Trump presidency?

I know that it is probably some kind of white-privilege thing for me to say: I never imagined that Donald Trump could be president. I didn’t think that people were that stupid, that sexist and that racist. It is a real hit for a lot of people’s sense of well-being for this to happen. Just when we start to make progress for queers, or people of other races, or genders — just as we’re making progress and moving forward — that’s when this happens. Because a certain faction of people feel like they keep getting less and less. Big deal, we all have less and less. But it’s not us who are taking it from them — it’s the rich white people they keep sending to Washington. So I don’t know where we go from here, but this is the time for people to step up. It’s time to declare what you believe in — because I don’t think majority of America believes in his hate speech. It’s time to create a new code of what it means to be a moral person. Because what the people on the Christian right are doing is completely terrifying. It’s time to step up when we see things happen — now is not the time for complacency.