Queer Comic Clara Blackstone Is Creating Good Pollution
New Fallout Theater comedy show elevates weird comedy for trash people
By James Scott,
1:35PM, Fri. Jul. 22, 2022
Austin’s comedy scene is full of pollution: the obvious straight dude stand-ups and the podcast impresarios who claim they’ve made the scene what it is. But deep within the dumpster trenches, gleaming in filth and freakiness, is what comedian Clara Blackstone aims to elevate in her new Wednesday night Fallout Theatre show – Good Pollution.
First, a brief intro to Blackstone. She’s headlined the Velveeta Room, opened for touring acts like Chris Gethard and James Adomian, and took off her earring halfway through our interview. The latter fact’s not totally relevant, though understandable during a phone call. Blackstone is also unimpressed by the current state of comedy. With stages having become culture war battlegrounds and more shows becoming homogeneous in their offerings, she yearns for a yesteryear of queerness in comedy.
“I feel like when I first started doing comedy,” Blackstone says, “what I liked about it was there was all these unique voices, and everyone was so different. And now especially in the stand-up world, everyone's kind of trying to sound the same.” Drawing on inspirations from local pre-pandemic comedy shows like Chortle Portal and Sandbox, she wants to revive a specific wild, wacky, and – of course – weird style of tomfoolery on stage. “The scene is really fractured right now,” Blackstone says, explaining that while half the comedic air is taken up by Rogan-ites, there are still pockets of original Austin weirdness. “I don't feel like I'm even really creating something new [with Good Pollution] as much as I am bringing back something that used to exist.”
In making the show, Blackstone wants to platform outsider voices who might otherwise be dumped from mainstream lineups. In fact, the origin of the show’s title comes from a separation of good versus bad trash. “Our kind of slogan is we think everyone is trash, but only some of us are good pollution,” she explains. “So there's an elitist moniker to it, but it's anti-elitist, really.” Part of the anti-elitism means Blackstone curates the queerest lineup she can, with the show’s inaugural date boasting locals like Angelina Martin, Irielle Wesley, Ryan Cownie, Brett Vervoot & Franny Harold, and Glenn Rose, plus more mysterious acts only to be revealed when the curtain rises. When it comes to defining good trash, Blackstone is clear that the best examples are broke queer folks: people who wear their weirdness without shame or commodification. “The more out-there, the more trashy, the more cool as far as I'm concerned,” she says.
But this isn’t just a show for Blackstone. Good Pollution is a brand – from comedy to music to … hot sauce? “In the first show, we will be handing out free hot sauce,” she says. “So if you want to find out what that's all about, you gotta go to it.” Her objective is to make Good Pollution Austin’s favorite brand, and that means creating a Meow Wolf-like experience but with comedy rather than art installations. “The show will be a lot of thing and people may or may not like it,” Blackstone acknowledges. “But one thing it won't be is boring, which you can't say that about a lot of shows in town.”
Good Pollution at Fallout Theater will be on Wednesday, July 27, at 8pm. Tickets are $8 and available on falloutcomedy.com.