Comedy club comes to Park City
November 3, 2009
Nine years ago on Jan. 1, Laura Hayden flipped a coin: heads, she was going to sign up for sailing lessons, tails, it was a stand-up comedy class. Tails it was, and an "official party starter" was born.
Not long before the fortuitous coin toss, Hayden had discovered a talent for making people laugh when her classmates at physical therapy graduate school convinced her to give the commencement speech. "I’m not an extrovert," she says. "I was actually pathologically shy as a child. Comedy chose me."
Stand-up classes gave Hayden the confidence she needed to step onto L.A.’s cutthroat comedy scene. For an extra boost, she brought her love for fancy footwear to the stage. She says she dressed to the 9s so that her clothes screamed confidence even if she wasn’t completely confident in her act.
"As I became more comfortable doing it, I realized I really didn’t need to go that crazy," she says. "The only thing that really stayed was the big-girl shoes. I always wear really fancy shoes on stage if the jokes aren’t funny, at least the shoes are pretty and you can look at them."
Hayden, who currently owns more than 100 (but less than 200) pair of shoes, now travels around California and the West, performing up to six shows per week. On Saturday, Nov. 7, she will reunite with longtime friend and local comic Kathleen McCann for Cleopatra’s Comedy Club at The Egyptian Theatre in Park City.
Hayden met McCann back in 2000 when she was sharpening her comedic skills at stand-up classes. "She walked up to me and said, ‘You’re my absolute favorite,’ and so of course I fell in love with her," recalls McCann. The two collaborated on several shows in the L.A. area before McCann moved to Park City in 2006.
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McCann invited Hayden to perform at her monthly comedy night at The Spicy Lady restaurant in Heber City this summer. "Utah and I got along just fine," Hayden says. "I have jokes that travel."
McCann says that Utahns have been quite receptive to stand-up comedy. "In L.A., everybody has a comedy night, so therefore they have no audience. In Park City, they have the audience, but nobody’s really doing the show," she says. "Here, people go to the show for the right reasons. They go because they want to laugh."
Saturday night’s comedy show will be emceed by McCann, headlined by Hayden, and opened by Denver comedienne Gretchen Hess. The comics are all female, but the show will appeal to men and women equally, Hayden says.
The key to being a successful comic, she explains, lies in being able to interpret things from different points of view. Growing up with all boys, thinking like a guy is something that comes naturally to her. "I have no fear about talking about anything," she says. "Everything is fair game because everything is funny."
Hayden says her material isn’t too dirty or too far over the edge. "I come in at about a PG-13-plus, maybe an R-rated thing here and there. That’s where I like to live," she says.
She typically tailors her material to the area she’s performing in, from simple and dirty in the outskirts of Montana to conservative in the Midwest. "My job is to try to find what people will find enjoyable, so I’m adaptable," she says.
McCann, on the other hand, says her G-rated act is basically nonexistent. "Just know that my show is not LDS-approved. Don’t tell your bishop where you’re going," she laughs.
Besides the guaranteed comic relief, Hayden says there are health-related reasons for Parkites to come out for the show. "Laughter lowers depression, anxiety and blood pressure," she says.
However, as the disclaimer on her website notes, the experience may also cause unanticipated side effects including: "uni-directional uplifting mood swings, chemical-free mind expansion, cramping of the cheeks and mouth areas, temporary incontinence and the ability to see things in ways you couldn’t invent yourself."
McCann says she hopes to bring different comedians to perform in Park City every few months. The Egyptian will provide a cash bar and tickets are available for $15 in advance, $18 at the door and $20 for cabaret seating. Doors will open at 7:30 p.m. and the show starts at 8:30 p.m. For more information or to buy tickets, call 649-9371 or log on to http://www.parkcityshows.com .