The Cockwhisperer - A Love Story
by Robin Pittis
September 15 - 21, 2011
I had heard of Tippi Seagram, Colette Kendall’s be–wigged, foul–mouthed and martini–toting alter ego, but I must confess I didn’t distinguish her from any number of independent comedians having a go at their own character–based one–[wo]man show. The Cockwhisperer has changed all that. Not only is she a woman brave enough to embrace the phallus before a crowd of strangers – she’s a local.
“I love Hamilton. Hamilton really changed my life.” she said over the phone. “When I lived in Georgetown 13– , 14–years ago, it was all about keeping up with the Joneses. Putting in a pool, and then having to have landscaping. Where I live in Hamilton it’s more about pride of ownership. People keep their property clean and well–maintained. They talk to each other. I found a sense of community here.”
In particular, Kendall fell in love with the Staircase Theatre, the newly minted Hamilton institution that has been nurturing local talent on Dundurn Street since before artists had so thoroughly over–run James North.
“I’ve come full circle with the Staircase. When my youngest child went in to kindergarten, I thought I had better get a job, but my boyfriend said ‘You’re funny. You should try stand–up.’ I thought he was absolutely nuts. That’s when I found the staircase online. I saw they had these drop–in classes in improv. So I said to my boyfriend that I would go to a class if he would come with me. All the way down the mountain I was yelling at him to pull over so I could puke. It was horrible. I was terrified, but the very first time I tried it I loved it. It felt like I was three–years–old again and playing in the sandbox.”
From there Kendall went on to try stand–up, and write the one–woman shows she has become known for across Canada and internationally; Tippi Seagram’s Happy Hour, and Who’s Afraid of Tippi Seagram? The Cockwhisperer – A Love Story is her third one–woman show, and it really is about her penile adventures.
“Yeah,” she said, almost ruefully. “That’s kind of the thread that runs through it; It’s about the most important penises in my life. There are three stories sort of intermeshed. I like to call them true stories that I made up. I don’t disclose what exactly is the truth. There is stuff that as a writer you embellish. I want the viewer to walk away wondering which is which. Basically it’s about learning to find love, and misguidedly looking for love through the cock. It’s been compared to a kind of reverse vagina monologues for men. One person described it as an anthem for positive sexuality – that was cool.”
Not just a performer, Kendall has also taken the role of impresario, managing the Staircase for owners Hugh Macleod, and Cathy Garneau.
“I guess it was three years ago this November that Hugh called, and asked me if I would run the Staircase. It had been closed for a three–year period at that point. I said he was nuts. I was touring from Orlando to New Brunswick, so I was running a theatre via smartphone. I’d be in Vancouver freaking out about a wedding at the Staircase madly emailing ‘Have you done this? Have you done this?’ The Staircase is such a great space and what I love about it is the incubation of new artists coming in. I just love people coming in and trying new things and I like bringing fringe–style theatre here, the stuff that you’re not necessarily going to see at the bigger theatres. Some of it’s really cutting edge and pushing the envelope.”
I asked if she was nervous to be doing such a personal show for a hometown crowd, particularly her kids.
“Oh, my kids are pretty used to me by now, let me put it that way. And Hamilton audiences are absolutely lovely. They’re so supportive, they want to help you out. They’re genuinely interested in you and there’s none of that whole too–cool–for–school attitude. You can try all sorts of new things here and your audience is going to honestly let you know whether it works or not. And then you can take it elsewhere. It’s one of these bittersweet things. I’m really pleased to be bringing it here because so many people have been asking me to bring it, but then there’s another part of me that’s a little scared, you know, to be doing it in front of my friends.”
Friends or not, audiences may expect hilarity, insight, and a penis or two at the Staircase this weekend. V
THE COCKWHISPERER — A LOVE STORY
September 16, 17, 8 pm.
@ The Staircase Theatre
27 Dundurn St. N., Hamilton.
tix: (905) 529-3000
Sept. 18th, ‘11
Hamilton’s STAIRCASE THEATRE is operated by Colette Kendall and although self-mandated to be a forum for local theatrical and entertainment performances, also serves as a medium for her own creative talents. Her intellectually humorous monologue titled ‘The Cock Whisperer” is a seventy-minute, at times self-mocking - iteration of an ingenuous and naïve young woman’s fascination with the sex act and its phallic symbol. At times scatological, hers is a mostly natural listing of the queries; misconceptions and especially the stereotypical attitude about males in general, by the female half of the equation.
Kendall makes full-measure usage of metaphor to wittily soften her jibes at the psyche of men in general. The parameters of interest (sex); the outright lies; and the insensitivities are all fodder for her gristing. Even her Anatomy 101 course, with sketches & chewing gum (don’t ask!) is presented utilizing similes such as comparing Mick Jagger’s lips to another female body part. When she tells the audience about an extended period of marital abuse, we empathized; when she found the opposite with a caring & understanding new partner…we cheered.
Her presentational form is amazing. An innate sense of timing coupled with a faultless emphatic sagacity reflects her improvisational background, and is a fascinatingly captivating attention holder. We hope for an invitation to whatever will be her next subject for comedic analysis.