Why comic Cara Connors calls herself a ‘fearless weirdo and enthusiastic creator of chaos’
Queer comedian Cara Connors performs in San Diego for the first time at Gossip Grill in Hillcrest
It’s a simple enough proposition: Cara Connors wants to make you laugh. And she’s pretty serious about it, too.
“I just want people to not have to worry about anything and have a reprieve during the show,” the Chicago-born comic says by phone from Los Angeles, where she now lives.
The world’s a scary place right now, and for one hour, when she’s up on stage, Connors would really just like people to laugh — and feel human again.
“I hope that people who come to the show feel seen,” she says. “And if my experiences are things they don’t personally relate to, I hope at least ... they feel the humanity of it. We’re all different, but in many ways, we’re all the same. That sounds cheesy, but these days, it’s been kind of forgotten.”
Connors is not afraid to push boundaries and has a lot of experiences to unpack as a comic. Previously married to a man — “we wish each other well, let’s leave it that” — the queer comic has something to say on a lot of things, from feminism and sexuality to gender identity to dating.
“On stage, my show is very alt-indie comedy variety, a good mix of absurdist comedy and very emotional,” Connors says. “A lot of playing with the audience with me going in and out of character. It’s the sort of show where you really just need to strap in and enjoy the ride.”
And lately, the self-billed “comedian and multifaceted homosexual” is definitely enjoying the ride.
“The most rewarding and enjoyable part of all this is having an hour of time where I just feel really happy,” she says. “I feel like that’s kind of the reward. I’ve been working my ass off, and that’s the prize. Seeing people laughing and wanna be there. And converting the people who tagged along and don’t know what the hell I’m all about. All that’s rewarding.”
A graduate of the Second City Conservatory in Toronto, Connors has trained with the L.A.-based improvisational and sketch comedy troupe The Groundlings as well as the Upright Citizens Brigade, another improv troupe whose founding members include Amy Poehler and Horatio Sanz, both “SNL” alums.
On June 3, all that training will be on full display when Connors brings her Straight for Pay tour to San Diego’s Gossip Grill, the first stop of her summer North American tour that ends in Houston on June 18 before she starts her European tour in Dublin on June 28. After Gossip Grill, where San Diego native Ava Bunn opens, Connors heads to Minneapolis.
“I live in California and have never performed in San Diego,” she says. “For my venues, I specifically pick openly queer venues and generally queer-owned bars. I’m excited about coming to Gossip Grill. I love San Diego. I love Black’s Beach, and I already have plans to go there again after the show.”
What can audiences expect?
“Well, 95 percent is very scripted, but it’s really designed and meant to feel like it’s off the cuff,” Connors says. “The whole thing is developed over the last few years and includes pre- and post-pandemic material. ... Every audience is completely different, so I’m playing the room. There’s definitely a lot of being in the moment, so every show feels completely different.”
Connors has described herself as a “fearless weirdo and enthusiastic creator of chaos with an uncomfortable commitment to catching people off guard with my own vulnerability.”
“Yeah, I’ve always been a sassy little troublemaker,” she says, laughing. “I was always getting in trouble making people laugh during those moments of tension. I’m like the youngest of four, and that was one of the only ways to get attention. My brothers were very strong, so I had to find a way to get attention.”
The youngest, the only girl and a lesbian: “Truly a trifecta — a lot of parents are praying for that one right now.”
Being gay, Connors says, “has been a very fertile ground for material, especially the last couple years. It’s the lens I’m looking at the world through. It’s a pretty politically charged topic and not in a good way. It definitely colors a lot of my experiences.”
Connors admits her opinions and commentary touches on some pretty hot-button topics, and not everyone will find her funny. But that’s not about to stop her from saying what she wants to say.
In light of recent attacks on comedians — Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle, for example — is she concerned for her safety?
“A lot of my comedy is political,” she says. “But there are scary ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ figures trying to make laws to oppress people, so speaking up now is more important than ever. I’m not going to go on stage if I don’t feel safe, but I’m not going to hide either.”
Off stage, she sees similarities.
“Because the reality is,” Connors says, “I don’t always feel safe. If I’m walking and say hello to a baby, and I’m getting a dirty look, I sometimes wonder why. Then I realize it’s because I’m with my girlfriend. So you’re not always in a place where you’re embraced for being yourself.
“You know what? A place where I actually felt safe? Black’s Beach. I went there last summer with all queer and trans surfer friends. Naked surfing! I thought, ‘Oh, this is heaven … this is a good place.’”
Another good place? The stage.
“I experience a constant low burning to medium boil anxiety all the time,” she says. “When I’m about to go on stage, it hits this peak because I care so much. But when I’m on stage, I feel relaxed, and I let the anxiety out and I can breathe. In my everyday life, I’m always trying to repress it. On stage, all that anxiety just goes away.
“Because really, what would be the worst thing that could happen on stage? I bomb. That could very much happen, but you know what? Even that could be funny.”
Cara Connors, with Ava Bunn
When: 7 p.m. Friday, June 3
Where: Gossip Grill, 1220 University Ave., San Diego
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