Make ‘Em Laugh
When comedienne Kim Durfee takes the stage the audience chuckles in anticipation. She resembles a cartoon character come to life with her animated face, wide eyes and two-tone blonde and pink hair.
And that’s good because all she wants to do is make you laugh.
Durfee has been a regular on the Hampton Roads comedy circuit for four years. Laughs are her life. She has performed at more open-mic nights than she can remember, was a regular at the Pembroke Cinema Cafe’s free comedy night and even works at Cozzy’s Comedy Club in Newport News where she waits tables and performs. She has also done a few charity events,fundraisers and a few paying gigs, like Norfolk’s Art Month.
Her material is largely observational, stemming from her relationships with family, her jobs and her dog. “I like to take something everyone loves and twist it, make people think about it in a new way and then make fun of it,” Durfee said.
Performing at The Venue on Feb. 10, she did just that, parodying the classic crowd-pleaser “Let It Be” by The Beatles. In a lighthearted dig at her new husband, she debuted “Leave Me Be,” singing “when I’m on the toilet/ that’s when you decide to pee/ use the other bathroom/ and leave me be.”
Durfee got into comedy four years ago at 37th and Zen, a Ghent pub that closed a few years back. They were having an open-mic night and her mom said, “You’re funny. I dare you.”
Not one to shy away from a dare, Durfee took the stage. “I had two jokes prepped, and I improved the rest. It was the scariest three minutes of my life,”
Now a seasoned amateur comedian, Durfee describes Hampton Roads local comedy scene as being very supportive of newcomers. Comedians will often help each other write their material, trading jokes that would work better for another’s routine than their own.
She met her husband, another stand-up comedian, through the scene, and he eventually proposed to her onstage. Although she says they’re very competitive, they’re also very supportive of each other and often critique each other’s material.
Her comedy is often self-deprecating, making herself the subject of most of her jokes. While she’ll say almost anything about herself to get a laugh, there are a few places she won’t go.
“I don’t like extreme racial humor. I also don’t like insult comedy. I’ll say horrible things about myself, but I won’t say anything directly to the audience. You say something like that and you can’t apologize, you can’t hesitate. You have to own it. And I’m not prepared to own something like that,” Durfee said.
There’s another topic she is hesitant to touch – rape.
“I do actually have one joke about rape, but it ridicules rapists, and I would never mention a victim,” Durfee said, fearing that if she did, she could be dredging up hurtful memories for members of her audience. “The last thing you want to do, in any situation, but especially in this business, is hurt someone. I’m here to make them laugh.”
Aside from her regular stand-up material, Kim has also been working on a collaborative act with local magician Joseph DePaul. “It’s pretty awesome, he’s really funny, and I’ve been learning some magic, and it’s turned out to be a great act.”
The collaboration has seemingly stirred up a good deal of controversy in the local magic scene.
“A lot of other local magicians are upset that I’m actually a part of the act. I’m not up there in a dress, I’m not quiet. I actually perform some tricks, and we bicker back and forth the whole time,” Durfee said.
If you’re not lucky enough to catch her at one of her sporadic open-mic night appearances, your next chance to experience her act will be at Cozzy’s Comedy Club, March 9, on their Sunday Funnies night. “It’s great, I love performing there. The owner, Lorraine Cosgrove, is so supportive, and incredibly helpful to comedians,” Durfee said.
If you can make the trip to Newport News, be prepared to laugh with Kim at Kim.
By David Thornton