Kate Willett’s Hilarious Special Loopholes Basks in Life’s Messiness

Kate Willett’s Hilarious Special Loopholes Basks in Life’s Messiness

  • 4 weeks ago

“How do you stay true to yourself when there’s just, like, all these people and all these forces just constantly asking you to compromise?” comedian Kate Willett entreats the audience near the end of her stand-up special Loopholes. In context, she’s talking about an unsatisfying relationship with a sexist partner, but the sentiment remains relevant for the entirety of the set. How does a comic like Willett stick to her feminist, anti-capitalist, and abolitionist ideals when living in the U.S.? She doesn’t give us a hard-and-fast answer, rather showing us the nitty gritty of trying to do so while also keeping us in stitches.

Throughout Loopholes, Willett’s comedy reminds me of the feminism I was first drawn to as a young adult: not the flattened, marketable adjective subsumed by capitalism so it could be slapped on mugs or Ruth Bader Ginsburg merch, but feminism as an active movement. Willett’s observations on feminism—in particular about its popularity in the Obama era and men’s co-opting of the movement’s goals—are some of the astutest I’ve heard in a special recently. Striving for a better world is an iterative and ultimately messy process, and that messiness is ripe for humor. 

The entire set has a conversational flow that makes Loopholes feel utterly natural, like you’re just at the bar with the funniest woman you know telling you all about life. For much of the special, Willett is expounding on her worldview—not from a place of holier-than-thou righteousness, but a world-weary knowingness. She’s been there, done that, and she’s ready to laugh about it. This is an hour brimming with one-liners destined for meme-ification (and no one knows that better than Willett herself), but it’s best enjoyed as a whole.

Willett is matter-of-fact and laidback behind on the Triad Theater stage; her dry delivery accentuates her sharp analysis of incels, boomer marriages, and the game MASH. Critical yet self-deprecating, Willett admits that the homophobic Christian camp she attended as a teen made being a bisexual woman sound way cooler than the reality, and realizes that she may have unwittingly manifested her adolescent fantasy of living out the plot of RENT. We get to know more about the California-raised stand-up as she theorizes about the rise of astrology and confesses her envy of basic people.

The jokes are fresh yet relatable, striking the perfect balance between the comfort of familiarity and the excitement of the novel. She also throws in some bits about a threesome and manspreading that appeared on her 2017 album Glass Gutter, but these repeats are so sparing that they feel like Easter eggs for the diehard Willett fans. 

Rarely are hours so seamless and satisfyingly funny. Loopholes proves the perfect showcase for Willett’s searing wit and indubitable talent.

Loopholes is available to purchase on Prime Video and Apple TV.

Clare Martin is a cemetery enthusiast and Paste’s assistant comedy editor. Go harass her on Twitter @theclaremartin.

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