Comedian Kate Berlant "makes the irreverent argument that comedy needn’t be rooted in truth," reports Jason Zinoman in The New York Times (9/26/13). "She doesn’t really tell jokes. She holds forth in the digressive voice of a seductive, larger-than-life guru, evoking a New Age businesswoman or a trendy academic." Her "flexible face" contorts into a "cross-eyed mask of tragedy; a sage face of wonder; and a weirdly clownish mug with her mouth and eyebrows going crooked in diagonal tandem." (images) Kate "frequently talks about wearing a mask onstage."
As she explains: "The moment you hide is the moment you reveal yourself." In short, Kate "takes aim at nothing less than what has become the most sacred orthodoxy of comedy today: The notion that the best comedy is derived from authentic experiences. This veneration of comedic truth, often at the expense of less-cited virtues like imagination, has become so widespread and unquestioned that comics sound like rappers boasting about being ‘real,’" Jason writes.
Kate’s comedy, however, "makes a mockery of realness. She keeps it fake. She spills paragraphs of verbiage about herself without revealing anything … The few details of her life she shares are obvious lies (She said she was once in vaudeville, for instance) … the main thing her monologues attack is the idea that there is a strict divide between our real self and the one we put onstage. Onstage, she is all mask; that’s her truth … her marvelously mystifying act invites questions about whether she’s joking and whether this is even comedy."