Kate Berlant Will Do Anything for a Broth Sponsorship
Surrealist comedy has been steadily growing in popularity since programs like Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! opened the general public’s eyes to the possibilities of weirdness in the 2000s — nowadays, bizarro sketch shows like I Think You Should Leave have carved much more than a niche in the comedy zeitgeist, and with each passing year, comedy gets even stranger.
But while some comics perform surrealism, Kate Berlant lives it. The stand-up appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! last night to promote her one-woman show, Kate, directed by the multitalented Bo Burnham. Berlant, a native Los Angelina, is about to start a run of Kate off-Broadway, and the comic used Kimmel’s platform to try to score a sponsorship that would help her through the winter months — Berlant turned her Kimmel interview into a promo for Brodo, a bone broth brand that Berlant imbibes backstage during performances the way conventional performers drink warm tea.
Fans of Berlant were not surprised to see the comic use precious screen time on one of the most popular late-night programs to try to score free broth — Berlant co-hosts the podcast Poog with fellow comedian Jacqueline Novak, and shamelessly demanding sponsorships is a staple of the program. Poog, which is Goop spelled backwards, is a “wellness” podcast wherein Berlant and Novak test out the most absurd holistic, natural and unproven treatments, creams and superfoods that cloud the Instagram ad-space of every twenty-to-thirty-something white woman in New York and Los Angeles.
Berlant's sense of humor occupies that grey area where it's unclear if her weirdness is tongue-in-cheek, or if she is just expressing her authentic self when she rolls up a towel as if it were a baby and pretends to be a teen mother in a picture taken for her high school yearbook. Berlant earned a master's degree in performance studies from NYU, and her stage shows always carry that element of uncertainty, which keeps audiences engaged and confused by the enigmatic artist. The New York Times said of one of the stranger physical gags in Kate, “Some will be too busy wondering if this bit is ha-ha funny or cringe funny or merely mortifying, a convergence of pleasure, perplexity and embarrassment that is, I would hazard, exactly where Berlant and her 15-foot-face face want us.”
This assessment best exemplifies the impression Berlant enjoys giving her audience. At a Berlant show, no one knows what is serious, intentional, flippant or cringey, but one thing is certain — this woman needs her broth.