Caitlin Gill: If you’re a fatty you might not exercise but one thing that will make you exercise is physical therapy. So, if you really need to lose some weight just lay under your best friend’s minivan and let him crunch up both your legs. Then you’ll [use crutches] for a few months and you’ll get some upper body power. Then some physical therapist will torture you.”
The bewitching brunette looks to the horizon of her mindscape with bright eyes. She observes the past cocoons with a tilted, sideways glare.
Gill: I lost pounds like crazy.
Caitlin Gill lives a contrasted existence. The six-foot-one tall, four-year-veteran comedian lets loose on the stage without shame or fear or acid. Her material may be controversial but it is never obscene. She walks proudly down the alley between dignity and disgust by decision and design. A natural storyteller, Gill acts out life’s tender, terrible and titillating moments with smiling satire, dark enthusiasm, and gripping honesty.
Gill: But then I get off stage and I am instantly kinda mousy, super awkward, pedantic, and disinterested…So people walk up and their body language is all gregarious and ready to meet this wild, go-getter performer and then I look up startled.
Gill was cultivated in the fertile, boring soils of Napa California. “It’s beautiful, but I hated it,” says the cool-tempered comedian after a sip of water. Caitlin bloomed from a stimulating diet of Calvin and Hobbes and Roald Dahl. Her comedic proclivities were further molded by the “super-silly-two-jokes-in-every-scene-absurd-sweet-open-comedy” of Airplane! by Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker and the “biting-wise-over-the-top-silly-social-satire” of Blazing Saddles by Mel Brooks. A yesteryear “super tomboy”, Caitlin Gill was remarkably “fierce” with short hair, camouflage pants and a plethora of sports gear.
Gill: I didn’t understand what appeal girly-ness had to anyone… it took forever to kind of figure out that women have a power that’s very different and beautiful and I would love to be apart of that. But by the time I realized that about myself, I weighed 250 pounds and was fourteen-years-old.
Young Caitlin Gill spun like a perpetually moving gyroscope of gender, personality, and discomfort. She felt oversized inside and out, unable to hide or control garnered attention.
Gill: I’m never going to be unseen and I didn’t know how to be seen at all… I don’t think I understood it at all until I got on stage… I couldn’t wear a dress before I started doing comedy; the first place I was comfortable in a dress was on stage. [It was] the first place I felt comfortable with people seeing me as feminine first. Which is all about power. I have the power there: amplified, in bright lights, standing above [the audience]… I decide how you see me then. It’s been amazing. I love being a girl. It took a really long time how to do that and what it meant. Comedy is incredibly instrumental in getting me to who I am right now.
The Gillotine, Cait-astrophy, If You Mess with the Gill, You Get the Whole Piranha. Incomparable, Caitlin Gill rocks her bells and revels in life’s wild journey of wide experiences. Gill travels in traditional spotlights: a regular at the Punch Line, former host/showrunner of the Brainwash and Deluxe female comedy shows, and performer of the 2010 Vancouver Global Comedy Festival. Inversely, she travels in the red spotlights: Oakland’s Tourettes Without Regrets, Sacramento’s Luna Cafe, and the infamous Hoodslam. Individually the venues are the plateau, landmark, historical, grand, sideshow, sink or swim, do or die arenas. Collectively the audiences demand versatility and confidence to succeed, qualities embodied by Gill.
Gill: There’s this tickle that happens where I know to just go with it and not ask myself any questions. If I don’t feel the doubt then I really barrel ahead… I never want to feel like I’m entirely comfortable where I’m at. I would always like to see [my career] raised to doing more that challenges me.
Antithesis Comedy: What is your spirit animal
Gill: A giraffe
AC: What’s your greatest accomplishment
Gill: Calvin and Hobbes tramp stamp.
AC: What do find yourself think about while you’re onstage?
Gill: Bad breath, stuff in my teeth, my shirt being awkward. I think a lot about how I look… [reflects] If I’m present, I’m not thinking about any of that. If the set gives me that ‘This is why I do this’ feeling, I’m only thinking about the jokes and the crowd and the feeling and the response. But if I’m hosting, or it’s hard, or it’s weird or if anything pulls me out of that present state, yes all petty, stupid shit: ‘Do I have a muffin top? I didn’t want to wear this anyway. Oh god my hair is in my eyes. Oh god my hair is in my eyes. Oh god my hair is in my eyes’.
The lovingly loquacious lyrical luchadora has made a noticeable change in her delivery and material. In the spring of 2007, Caitlin Gill made her debut at the Seabiscuit on 47th and Noriega. She spoke with a confessional fearlessness transcribed from life, to page, to ears. While her trademark remains anecdotes of raunch and realism, Gill has opened up to more improvisation, writing aurally on the stage. The practice is equated to “flying” and Caitlin loves the thrill and danger of the wind in her face.
Caitlin also loves the book “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell, an exploration into what makes successful people. A common thread found in the book is the idea of the “10,000-Hour Rule”, claiming that the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours. Speeding along, airborne, arms outstretched, watching the odometer raise slowly to 10k, Gill revels in the up and downs of stand-up comedy.
Gill: I want to get better at everything. That’s why I love to chase [comedy] and practice and grind and do shitty rooms everywhere because I want to get 10,000 hours… I love what I do well but I want to… [pause] There are comics that remind me I am working too hard. People who really make me laugh with relatable, simple, observational, classic humor… It’s not easy, but there’s a simplicity to it that is graceful and perfect. I’m trying to make people laugh about the shit they don’t want to talk about. I’m trying to make people laugh and not sure why; reactions coupled with laughter. I like making crowds quiet sometimes (on purpose)! There are things I like to do that are harder. Maybe that’s ambition or ego or whatever but there are people I love to watch because they remind me that sometimes things are just funny. And you don’t have to have to be a feminist, communist, radical every time you’re on stage… [pause] Even though I am.
Sometimes a perfect parity is reached. Sometimes the greatest jokes are political, observational, goofy, and arise from a plume of happenstance. Gill possesses such a joke:
Gill: The arms joke happened because I was honestly flexing and I saw my arm jiggle at the same time. It’s so instantly funny. I was just laughing at my arms because it was something I didn’t notice that they did and mine do it a lot. Mine do it a lot because I used to be so much heavier and have all this extra skin but almost every woman’s arms does… And it’s a weird thing to be insecure about because it’s a very difficult thing to work off… So to me, it’s such a simple joke… I really battle with whether or not [this idea] is real or totally just ego that makes me believe there’s a little bit of politics owning it. Letting women laugh at that is a big deal. Letting them see [another] woman own it and offer it is a big deal.
Caitlin is a big deal. She has the skills and prestige to ply her craft in the grander comedy meccas of Los Angeles and New York City. Still those places are far from where Gill needs to be, according to modest comedian.
Gill: It’s awesome to watch people who walk up with a complete picture but that is part of the story of their life. And part of the story of my life is being my age, my stage of life, and figuring out who I am right now. This is when I get to do it… I’m not ready to be anywhere other than where I am.
One last question.
AC: Do you have any mantras or sayings?
Gill: I did wear a t-shirt when I was graduating from high school that said ‘Fuck ‘em if the can’t take a joke’. Does that count?
Yes it does.