Her introduction includes Kansas born and raised feminist lesbian, who happens to be a former burlesque and cabaret performer and is currently performing as a comedian, musician and actress. Who else could it be but Scout Durwood? Raised in a liberal, Midwest home, Scout is the second of three daughters. “I am a classic middle child,” she said. “I tell people, if you don’t pay attention to your middle child, you’re raising a comedian.” It wasn’t until she moved to New York to pursue acting that she found a love for stand-up. Soon Los Angeles called, and Durwood answered. She was cast on the Oxygen channel’s “Funny Girls,” a reality show about the lives of six female comedians. In 2016, she starred in the short-lived MTV series “Mary + Jane,” a comedy about two best friends who sell marijuana door to door. Last month, she released her debut comedy album Take One Thing Off. Durwood will be performing in Louisville this week at Play.
LEO: Did you find it strange having your every move filmed for ‘Funny Girls?’
Scout Durwood: It is. But still the myth of reality TV is that it’s real. I think of it more like you’re watching improv scenes. At one point, they called, and they were like: ‘We need more scenes with you. We need you to get in a fight with Nicole.’ Nicole [Schreiber] and I reenacted a little fight we had kind of had before. They said, ‘OK, you’re going to get mad at Nicole for saying something personal about you on stage.’ It’s so ridiculous how those shows get made.
You were also on MTV’s ‘Mary + Jane.’ Which came first, stand-up or acting?
I started out as an actor. I was getting cast a lot in comedic roles, so I started doing stand-up. Doing live comedy led me to do burlesque, which led me to doing live singing. And that led me back around to doing musical comedy. I don’t know if one person can do it all, but I’m certainly trying. I just love performing live. It puts a lot of water in my well. The human connection shared in a room is pretty worthwhile.
That’s interesting. You say stand-up led you to doing burlesque. How so?
First of all stand-up gives you confidence. And you have to be blindingly ballsy to be naked on stage. I did a lot in my queer nightlife, so it wasn’t really that far of a leap. But I was funny, so I emceed the burlesque shows, which was definitely the overlap. I was funny on my feet. It’s fun to have to be on your feet all of the time. It’s like a near-death experience in front of an audience every night.
You’re a self-proclaimed feminist. Why do some people have a hard time reconciling that women can be a feminist and in touch with their sexuality at the same time?
I think first of all those people don’t understand burlesque. People tend to want women to be more sexual than they really are. So burlesque is a way to flip that script and say, ‘Let’s do this on my terms.’ Regular stripping is: ‘Let me be your fantasy.’ Burlesque is: ‘Let me show you mine.’
What does feminism look like within the LGBTQ community?
I don’t know. Queer culture still struggles with that. Sometimes, as a woman, I feel like my voice wasn’t being heard, like in the drag community. And it was just because I was a woman. And in the lesbian world, things weren’t always as glittery as I thought they should be. So I don’t always fit in there, either.
As a musician and a comedian, give me two influences in music and two in comedy?
Great question. In comedy it would be Maria Bamford and Steve Martin. Steve Martin because he started in stand-up, went to acting, now he’s in music. Which is kind of a trajectory I see myself going. And as far as music. I probably don’t go a day without listening to Tom Waits. Which is probably the most hipster answer you could get to that question. I also really love two-handed piano boogie, so Little Richard.
You released your debut stand-up album ‘Take One Thing Off’ last month. Where did the title come from?
Well, first of all, let’s get naked. Second, it’s a quote from Coco Channel. She said, ‘Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.’ Which is a reference to being a minimalist accessorizer. But my life has been inspired by the power of nudity on-stage. By moving from New York to LA with completely different expectations for myself, and expectations from others. So for me it’s physically and emotionally — take one thing off.