PAT CANDARAS: PANIC IS NOT A DISORDER
nytheatre.com review by Jonathan Warman
Pat Candaras is not your run-of-the-mill stand-up comic. She started much
later in life than most, after being fired from her post as Chief
Operating Officer of a maritime union. And even though she has
grandchildren, she's still capable of swearing like a longshoreman, thus
her nickname "Grandmotherfucker."
August 15, 2003
As much as her stuttering delivery evokes, say, Woody Allen, she's also clearly influenced by the youthful alternative comedy scene that was born on the Lower East Side in the '90s—a scene where she herself did her first gigs. Like many of the former residents of Surf Reality, she has a carefully constructed stage persona, and will sometimes forgo an easy laugh to give us a little insight into her life. This ends up netting bigger laughs, since they're rooted in a deeper understanding of the anxiety underneath her surface poise. This compelling "welcome to my world" trip encompasses death, sex, politics, religion, and the ongoing dubious (or is that Dubya-ous?) "war on terrorism." For example, Candaras' desire to be a "regular lady"—her role model is the Virgin Mary, "who really knew how to wear a scarf!"—comes up against her horrified realization that Laura Bush is probably the best example of a regular lady these days, and she just keeps smiling no matter what idiotic crap comes out of her husband's mouth. Candaras doesn't think she could ever do that: she's had a lifelong conflict with authority of any kind.
She's like an Irish Catholic Richard Pryor: This is comedy with a lot of things on its mind, and Candaras’ hard-driving approach puts her ideas across forcefully. Oh, and let's not forget that "the penis is important" to Candaras, as she realizes in an epiphany watching a man with a jackhammer. One of my favorite candid Candaras observations: "Some penises are just plain ugly."