Cara Connors’ Authentic Queer Self
Queer comedian talks straight passing camp in a tiny cowboy hat
By James Scott,
11:49AM, Fri. Feb. 25, 2022
In anticipation of her first Austin show this Saturday at Fallout Theater, Cara Connors bought a secondhand pair of Wranglers and, very crucially, a small cowboy hat.
She wears it in promotional pictures for her Straight for Pay tour, and the tiny 10-gallon hat completes her look, which she describes as “a tomboy degenerate mixed with a cowboy prince streetwear style.” Turns out, the hat doesn’t belong to Connors but to Kenny Kitchen, a stuffed owl doll she’s had since working at a summer camp in college. She bought him a western costume to match the ones she and her girlfriend wore to her camp friends’ weddings – though not because a costume was asked for. Connors just likes to have fun, to have hoot & holler energy, which is what those attending her show can expect.
Connors confesses she bloomed in her queerness a little later than most: in her mid-20s, she came out, divorced her straight husband, and started exploring her gay second adolescence. “It did kind of feel like I was a teenager … sort of a fake idealized version of what a teenager is, because I think I never actually experienced it the first time around.”
Her evolution with queer identity comingles with her journey in standup. Now reaching the seven-year mark in her comedic career, Connors says her onstage personality has caught up with her authentic self. “I use [the stage] kind of as a place to show all of my biggest flaws, and instead of hiding them, amplify them and lean into them.” While molding her storytelling style into something more vulnerable, Connors says she often uses self-deprecation as a way to keep from punching down. Her comedy is meant to bring the audience together by sharing in the absurdity of life, “like wow, being alive and a human is honestly so deeply mortifying in so many ways.”
She points out that being queer forces a person into being an outsider – which brings into sharp relief society’s absurdity. An aspect of queer life that strikes Connors as particularly funny is the parallel universes LGBTQIA folks and straight people live in. Her example is an Uber driver, who gave her and her girlfriend a ride from the airport and was effusively chatty while Connors pretended to sleep, “which is my survival mechanism of choice.” The driver spouted off multiple questions about the couple’s trip and relationship, and her girlfriend eventually admitted they were together and visiting family. “And the driver says, ‘Oh, first time meeting his family?’ … Like, he kept talking like, he just had no idea what was going on at all.” Connors points out that queer people frequently notice these moments of spirited but confused support as well as flat out confusion from seemingly straight people, but “there's not necessarily as many voices that are calling those things out.”
While she acknowledges that coming out in adulthood isn’t unique to her, Connors still brings her own voice to the experience in her standup and uses that queer perspective to inform her acting work as well. As her tour title implies, Connors isn’t above nabbing straight roles from straight actors. “I mean, they do it to us all the time. So I just feel like, you know, payback’s a bitch.” Having found her most authentic queer self, she’s also discovered the joy of being paid to play straightness for camp. “I enjoy being straight now more than I did when I was actually living it.”
Cara Connors will be performing at Fallout Theater this Saturday, Feb. 26, at 10pm. Tickets are $15 online and $20 at the door. More information at falloutcomedy.com.
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LGBTQ, LGBTQ comedy, Cara Connors, Fallout Theater, Straight for Pay