Benefit concert provides patrons with limitless laughter

Roze Brooks

Margaret Cho and company keep audience laughing, thinking

An evening of laughs and raunchy entertainment commandeered the Folly Theatre on Nov. 13. A benefit show for the LIKEME Lighthouse, a Kansas City-based LGBT community center, offered a line-up of topnotch comedians.

Chely Wright, Kansas City native and founder of the LIKEME organization, hosted the night’s event, advocating for support of the community center interspersed throughout the show.

Jim Short, a stand-up comedian originally from Australia, built his entire bit off of his experiences as a foreigner now living in the States. His mocking of Westernized culture was tasteful, jesting that Americans seemed to think the Sydney Opera House was the only structure in all of Australia, and that every resident of the country lived in that very building.

He joked extensively about the societal dependency on cell phonesand how the art of sexting was a privilege for those with smartphones. Short insisted that public service announcements should start using sexting images as the primary reason behind phone-related car accidents. His blunt and repetitious usage of the terms “knob” and “willy” added a vulgar but humane element to his set.

John Fugelsang hit some soft spots with a curt criticism of homophobic interpretations of the Bible.  He focused in on the foolishness of the Book of Leviticus, deeming that anyone who fully believes that it’s a sin for a man to lie with another man has to abide by every other proposed sin in the text—including not eating shellfish, not getting tattoos and stoning a litany of other supposed wrong-doers such as Newt Gingrich, for getting married three times.

Fugelsang delivered an intelligent rant about America, targeting the incompetence of numerous politicians. He even ragged on himself for becoming a breeder, or someone in a heterosexual relationship.

He also commended the Kansas City Chiefs for having a team name that wasn’t equivalent to a racist slur, unlike the Washington Redskins. He then recited a slew of other ideas for inappropriate, slanderous team names.

Headliner Margaret Cho took the stage prematurely during her introduction, blaming her too-tight pants for the urgency. Cho talked freely about her bisexual identity, including commentary on her varying sexual experiences with men and women. She admitted to a reliance on her vibrator, making boisterous buzzing noises into her mic and insisting her self-indulgence could cause power outages in her neighborhood. Cho was skillful at engaging with the audience, starting impromptu conversations with people sitting along the balcony.  Her set seemed abnormally short since she was the headlining act, but she certainly didn’t end the show with disappointment.

Inviting Wright back on stage along with singer Kristie Stremel, the trio performed an acoustic song that required a little audience participation. During the chorus, Cho encouraged everyone to join in as they chanted “fat p***y”—a phrase used as a positive term of endearment. Wright and Stremel had a hard time keeping a straight face, but Cho was committed to seeing the song all the way through.



UMKC administrator shines a light on Kansas City

The LIKEME organization honored two recipients with awards for their commitment to the growth of the organization and its impact of Kansas City.  Drag performer Melinda Ryder received the Shine a Light Award for  being a long-time supporter of Kansas City’s gay community and raising awareness of LGBT issues.

“I am thrilled and excited to receive one of the very first Shine a Light awards,” Ryder said. “Being part of an organization that reaches out to our community as a beacon of compassion, education and hope is at the very core of who I am as an individual. It is my goal to continue to ‘Shine a Light’ where life takes me.”

The National Shine a Light Award was given to Dr. Angela Cottrell, director of UMKC’s Office of Student Involvement, spotlighting the needs of the LGBT community in a national forum. Her role in the Human Rights Campaign Board of Governors has immersed Cottrell into her own spotlight, advocating for positive change.

“When moving to Kansas City, I made a pact to live my true life. I made a commitment to equality, faith and love,” Cottrell said. “Edith Wharton wrote, ‘There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.’ I am truly honored and humbled to receive this prestigious award and can only hope that my candle and the light I reflect continues to make a positive impact on our community.”

Both honorees spoke to the necessity of the community center.  Located at 3909 Main Street, the facility can be used as a resource center, meeting spot or just a convenient hangout.  The center was opened in March 2012.