By Michael “Buzz” Buzzelli, ‘Burgh Vivant
Comedian Vickie Shaw was a late bloomer. When the Southern Baptist stay-at-home mom decided she would hit the stage and give comedy a try, she had no idea it would change her life in many new and exciting ways. Shaw said, “I didn’t want to be a comedian so much as I just wanted to be able to look back at my life and say I did it. I was always telling my kids to follow their dreams and I hadn’t followed my own, so I guess in a way I did want to be a comedian, but didn’t acknowledge it.”
Her life took an unusual turn on her path for laughs. She said, “I began to study the art of comedy I realized I had to get in touch with my feelings, many of which I had never addressed. I was very suppressed.” She added, “When I began to get in touch with them, it became a Pandora’s box. You can’t pick and choose what you feel and… I realized… son a gun! I’m a lesbian!”
Truth – and comedy – will set you free. Shaw divorced her husband and came out as a lesbian while hitting clubs for stage time. She said, “Needless to say this whole experience took time, of course, but it all was a catalyst for where I am now.”
She began one microphone at a time. Shaw recounted, “I went to an open mic night in Houston, Texas and literally froze. It was the longest 5 minutes of my life! To this day I don’t know why I went back, but I did. And then I kept going back because it was ‘my time.’”
She joked about the real events in her life. On stage, she tells the story about when her daughter asked her about being a lesbian. Shaw said, “My daughter said, ‘Do you…you know…’ And I couldn’t help it, I said, ‘What do you mean?’ and my daughter said, ‘you know…have sex.’ And I replied, “Haley, I don’t care if your parents are straight or gay, but thinking about your parents having sex…is GROSS!”
Shaw became widely known in the LGBT community. She starred in four comedy specials on LOGO including “You Can Take the Girl Outta Texas…” and “Vickie Shaw Live – Sick and Wrong Tour.” She appeared in Comedy Central’s “Premium Blend,” and the docu-drama, “Laughing Matters…More,” a sequel to “Laughing Matters.” Both “Laughing Matters” and Laughing Matters…More” launched the careers of many LGBT comedians. Shaw shared her personal coming out story in “The Secret Lives of Women: Late-in-Life Lesbians,” a documentary about women who come out of the closet late in their lives.
The comedian recently married her longtime partner, whom she has dubbed Sgt. Patch (a retired police officer). Shaw said, “We got married last year on my birthday. That’s so she doesn’t forget it!”
Shaw cites her major influences as Totie Fields, Joan Rivers, Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, Bob Newhart and Moms Mabley (an African American comedian from the early 20th Century who was one of the country’s first out lesbian standup comedians).
Shaw has toured all around the world with Olivia Cruises, an LGBT travel company. She adores the gig. Shaw said, “I love Greece, Tahiti, Alaska. I love all the resorts. They are all inclusive – – which means ‘adult beverages’ all day long! And I’m getting paid to be there!”
The standup has advice for budding comedians. She said, “Stage time. Stage time. Stage time. Do any time you can get. Get up and do five minutes…you might be horrible but that’s what you have to do. Use that time to study your craft and learn. Standup is an art and it requires practice. But just do it!”
Vickie Shaw will perform at Cruze Bar, 1600 Smallman Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222 on August 26, for tickets click here.