There’s a very 1980’s, brick-wall-stage-background misconception about earning your place in standup comedy requiring a minimum experience of several years. This outdated flavor of gatekeeping has long been the tool of the majority to claim ownership over a thing so nebulous, so ever-changing as comedy. While the old guard gives way to younger models, comedy is constantly evolving to keep pace with our constantly-evolving world. Newcomers like Kari Burt who hit the ground running are part of a bigger-picture effort to keep the Houston comedy gene pool as wide and diverse as the melting pot city itself.
A Houston native, comedian Kari Burt rose in the ranks from comedy freshman to sophomore quicker than the average trajectory by using the tried-and-true method of just showing up. More or less hitting the stage every night, Kari carved out a space for herself by employing her own version of celebrating pride every day — chest out, head high, and unapologetically owning her identity. “I was always kinda funny conversationally and wanted to see if that could translate to the stage. Spoiler alert: it’s very hard work.” Her deep dive into comedy gave her a newfound admiration for local musicians and artists who share raw parts of themselves through their work.
"Honestly, the Houston comedy scene embraced me with open arms. Of course, existing in the world as a gay black woman is like living life on hard mode, but I haven’t felt any resistance in the local scene and because of that, I’m more fortunate than some. I think part of that is because of how supportive other women in the Houston scene are. We all try to lift each other up and cheer for each other." Kari also credits her loving and supportive wife for pushing her to pursue comedy. “Not too many women would be okay with their spouse going out every night, but I never would’ve gotten on stage if she hadn’t pushed me towards it.”
Adding producer to her growing list of credits, Kari has two shows that are a glowing source of pride. Too Soon is a comedy show about current events, politics, and pop culture on the first Saturday of every month at The Secret Group. JK Fridays, co-produced with fellow gay comedian Janan Araujo-Siam, appears monthly at multi-disciplinary performance venue, Rec Room. “We try to put emphasis on those underrepresented in comedy, especially women of color and members of the LGBTQ community.”
When she's not on stage at Secret Group, Rec Room, Station Theatre, or The Houston Improv, Kari can be found at Hay Merchant or 8th Wonder Brewery, the latter of which also hosts regular comedy shows in addition to being an EaDo favorite for beer-lovers.
Kari's wife is Danish, so when friends and family fly in from Denmark, they give them their take on the quintessential Houston experience: shooting at the gun range, two-stepping at Wild West, barbecue at Pinkerton's, and of course, Tex-Mex.
Catch Kari at the next Too Soon January 18th at Secret Group, and JK Fridays February 1st at Rec Room.