From Polly Holliday on Alice (“Mel, kiss my grits!”) to Will & Grace’s Karen Walker, ballsy dames with attitudes have always held a special place in the gay man’s heart. So while many of the ladies of the Bitch Salad comedy night may not be queer, it’s still a no-brainer to include them as part of Buddies’ Pride schedule. Organizer and comedian Andrew Johnston got the idea during a stint at Yuk Yuk’s comedy club.
“There was this comic named Katherine Ryan onstage,” Johnston remembers. “She was pretty and tart and in-your-face, but she wasn’t really hitting with the audience. But my gay friends in the crowd were just dying. So I thought, I’ll put this together with that.”
In the past six years, Bitch Salad has become one of Buddies’ most popular draws, with sell-out crowds and a first-rate roster of performers. Jackie Burroughs made her final onstage appearance with them two years ago, while Kristen Johnson sent along a videotaped riff last year. Johnston says it’s the rapturous audiences that hold such appeal for in-demand performers.
“This is the best audience in the country for comedy, and anybody who’s been on the show will tell you the same,” he says. “The crowd’s reference level is unlimited, so the acts don’t need to be compromising. They can be as explicit and specific as they like.”