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  • Writer's pictureStand-Up Comedy Historian

10 Fun Facts about Kate Berlant

Updated: Feb 2


As part of Kate Berlant Month on my website, I wanted to share some cool facts I've learned as an enormous fan of the improvisational comic and fantastic actor.


She's also very kind in person, and I met her after her final KATE show in New York City in February!



Enjoy some fun trivia about Kate, and try to see her works if you can!


1) Kate's first role was a cameo on Lizzie McGuire. She had one line about Lizzie's cool pants on the popular kid's show at the age of 15.



Kate explained her subsequent experience with Hollywood as a teen actor:

Around that same time, her best friend’s mom was the casting director on “Lizzie McGuire,” so she tried out for fun. Berlant landed a walk-on part, crossing Hilary Duff in the school hallway to say, “Hey, Lizzie, very cool pants.” A different agency signed her right away, and suddenly she was being represented by “seedy child-actor agents” ― a woman and a gay man whose names now escape her. “They were like, ‘Here’s some candy, wear a tummy shirt, you’re cute.’ Just tacky, tacky, tacky.”

After that, she started stand-up at 17 in high school (sitting in a wheelchair as part of her act apparently).


She was 17 the first time she did stand-up, in the basement of her Brentwood high school, the Archer School for Girls, which she says has a reputation for graduating the children of Hollywood celebrities.

And she was so young at the clubs that she needed a fake ID to attend!

Berlant got her start performing at open mic nights in L.A. “I would go to the Laugh Factory and do a set. I wasn’t old enough to get in, so I got a fake ID.”

Fake ID, huh?


2) In absolutely shocking news considering her fabulous turns in Don't Worry Darling and Sorry to Bother You, Kate was rejected from acting school.



She explains how it happened and why it was demoralizing for her on Mike Birbiglia's podcast Working It Out.




But she got the last laugh—Kate was chosen from an open audition to be in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood!



3) Kate's been working with her writing partner John Early for many years, and the two even lived together at one point!



We met, and John spent every night at my house, practically, for two years,” she adds. “I truly would watch him leave my apartment out the window, like falling in love. It sounds cheesy—it is cheesy. But our friendship was romantic.”

They are also Emmy nominees for their hilarious Peacock show Would It Kill You To Laugh? So impressive (but I'm guessing John Mulaney will win for Baby J!).



4) Kate is bisexual (solidarity!), and she was previously in a relationship with her queer A League of Their Own co-star Roberta Colindrez.



5) Kate's family is FULL of creative people. Her father is an artist, and her mother is an actor and was the set designer for films like the mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap.


Her father is the sculptor Tony Berlant, and her mother, Helen Méndez Berlant, did experimental theater and later worked in set design; she created the miniature Stonehenge for This Is Spinal Tap.


Kate, who is an only child, grew up surrounded by her parents’ eccentric friends, many of whom were famous artists and performers. They showed her that “to seize the stage, you had to stand up and shout,” says Tony, recalling a typical gathering at the house. “She had her early years sleeping under the table with her little blanket during parties. She never had a bed time.”
An only child lacking an outsize rebellious streak, she maintained a certain loneliness, and the way to make her presence known was to subscribe to her parents’ disposition: “They’re big storytellers. I was raised around that, without really realizing it. Being entertaining was valued.”

In addition, both of her parents call her Kitty, a childhood nickname that she jokes about with Mike on the podcast episode linked above.



6) Kate participated in the first (and only) season of the U.S. version of Taskmaster, co-hosted by her good friend Reggie Watts (Kate was in his special Spatial along with Rory Scovel). The show included fellow contestants Freddie Highmore, Ron Funches, Lisa Lampinelli, and Dillon Francis.


And she WON the whole game—impressive!


Lisa's pink onesie here reminds me of White Woman's Instagram!



7) Kate has a Comedy Central web series where she teaches ordinary people how to do basic tasks, like telling time, making a reservation, sitting, and washing dishes. It's shot like a Masterclass video, and everything is taken very seriously. So brilliant!



8) Speaking of brilliance, Kate's shining star of talent led to Bo Burnham tweeting MULTIPLE times about her in 2018. The two have since collaborated on projects like Kate's comedy special Cinnamon in the Wind and, of course, her one-woman play Kate with Bo as the director of both works.



Kate calls his involvement the "Overcoat of Bo Burnham," which is a wonderful turn of phrase.



Kate is NOT wrong there—Bo has had a hand in multiple genre-defining works including her own special, Chris Rock's comeback special, and two cinematic masterpieces of comedy for Jerrod Carmichael. Plus a little critically acclaimed film called Eighth Grade. And that's not even getting into Inside and his other specials. Haha



But I digress...


9) Kate announced that tickets will be available soon for her upcoming LA shows on Birbiglia's podcast. Mike was excited to get an exclusive!



10) Kate and her warm embrace of her fans after her final performance of her play in NYC helped me to realize my parasocial obsession with Bo was making me miserable (and he had WARNED us about that trap...but that made me like him more! Ugh).


Instead, I decided to abandon BBH and shift my website to being about stand-up comedy in general with a focus on the female comics who made me feel better about myself, like Kate and Maria Bamford.



The two actually know each other very well in real life (Kate used to open for Maria and Sarah Silverman), and this same Huffington Post article explains their relationship and admiration for each other:


Bamford watched Berlant’s act and invited her over for dinner. “I wish I had the stage presence and the ability to connect with the audience that she does,” Bamford said of Berlant, who once deadpanned during a 2014 set, “There’s somebody here who has the laugh of someone who deceived me.”
“She doesn’t ever seem tentative with crowd interaction,” Bamford added, “and I’d love to be more that way.”

And Sarah (whom Kate loved when she was younger and Jesus Is Magic deeply influenced her when she was starting out) admires Kate's comedy style as well:



Last year, Berlant appeared on Silverman’s Hulu talk show, “I Love America,” leading a blunder-filled bus tour around Washington, D.C. “She is so totally in the moment,” Silverman said. “I love her stream-of-consciousness style of performance. It’s like the most sincere, earnest magic trick.”

I just ADORE seeing women supporting women! So wonderful.


Anyway, Kate is currently performing her one-woman play in London to rave reviews (and it looks like Bo even appeared for at least opening night there, certainly in a better mood than he was last fall heh).




As I'd mentioned before, she said the next stop for KATE will be in Los Angeles, so be sure to grab tickets for that if you're in the area.


It's well worth it to watch a comic at the TOP of her game!



For the complete list of Kate Berlant articles and audience interviews, please click here.


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