Grandmotherf*cker ain’t your grandmother’s stand-up routine
By CHRISTOPHER BYRNE
Pat Candaras is an extremely funny woman. Yet if being funny were all she had, her one-woman show provocatively titled, Grandmotherf*cker—would be no different from many of the acts playing comedy clubs around town. What makes this an extraordinary and screamingly funny—evening is how beautifully crafted the show is, how clever the writing is, and, of course, the precision of Ms. Candaras’ presentation.
Yes, there is something inherently comic, and distinctly New York, about a fifty-something widowed grandmother allowing a torrent of vulgarity to roll off her tongue, though the language is not gratuitous. If the show were simply crass, it would not have the richness and poignancy it does. Seriously, Ms. Candaras’ choice of words is sharply political and paints the picture of someone trying to be seen and acknowledged in a world and a culture that is all to quick to marginalize those who inhabit an uneasily identified demographic. Candaras is not simply a gag writer but a true comedian who encompasses broad ranges of emotion and experience into creating a coherent and integrated show.
Nonethless, what is most remarkable about the script is the use of vulgarity, which transmutes in the opening minutes of the show from shocking to an expression of character. In such capable hands, the f-word seems one of the most versatile and poetic in our language. (There are at least two books on the market that elaborate on this, but Ms. Candaras is a living example of the hypothesis.)
In the show, Ms. Candaras creates a character with plenty of free-floating anxiety, particularly as related to authority figures. She desperately wants to be a “regular lady,” or at least she thinks she does. Every portrait she paints of such ladies makes one cringe in horror, whether it’s Laura Bush sitting by and mildly smiling while her husband acts like a buffoon or the “regular lady” who attends to the hygiene of her pet, much to the discomfiture of the pet. We are left with the distinct impression that any sane person would vastly prefer Ms. Candaras’ confused honesty—which is also applied to her family of 17 kids and her own three children—to whatever it is that passes as “regular.”