On the last stop of their tour, the comedians behind “Loosen the Bible Belt” performed at Relapse Theater on Nov. 14. “Loosen the Bible Belt” infuses human rights and religion with comedy in an attempt to foster conversations between people with different beliefs. While the headliner, Kristen Becker, was able to coerce laughter from her audience, the other two performers were mediocre. With corny puns and anecdotes that weren’t as humorous as intended, the show was simply adequate, though it did have memorable moments.
The night began with comedian Meghan DePonceau, whose vibrant personality was lovely to watch on stage. However, her material didn’t always hit. Her jokes revolved around her experience as a bartender. At some points, her jokes were awkward and merely incited pity laughs. Even so, she was a optimistic presence, with an upbeat nature and lively voice, commanding the stage with her volume and presence. Even though the majority of her set was relatively dull, she occasionally managed to entertain the meager audience.
Singer-comedian Sarah Rose Marie followed DePonceau. She swept onto the stage and immediately started with a comedic song about a relationship in which a guy could prove he loved her by doing things to make her life easier while suffering himself. Her voice was beautiful and ethereal, with an eerie quality to it. However, the jokes in her songs were few and far between, sometimes taking until the chorus for the audience to fully understand the jokes and laugh. It was meant to be relatable humor, but some of it fell flat because it was difficult to interpret the lyrics underneath her singing.
But the next performance wasn’t another standup set. DePonceau, who was MC for the night, announced that, for each show on the tour, she would find a local pastor, rabbi or other religious figure to give a short talk to the audience. Rev. Jay Baker, who was supposed to be on the tour, had to quit the tour early due to mental health issues. She explained how, originally, they hadn’t been able to find one for the show that night, but ended up getting lucky when they learned the owner of the Relapse Theater was a pastor. He came on stage and gave a talk about religion and how it relates to the current political climate. He spoke about how religious people should be more accepting and less judgmental of others. Though the talk was thought-provoking and a nice break from the light mood of the night, it did feel a little out of place, and I would have preferred the show without it.
Finally, the headliner, Kristen Becker, came on stage and brought her all for her performance. Her set mainly revolved around her experiences as a lesbian and how it has affected her life and relationships with family and friends. Her personality was shown through every word she spoke as she got fully involved in her jokes, even acting out some parts. Her jokes were both self-deprecating and relatable, leaving the audience laughing after nearly every sentence. She had a way with words and actions that easily provoked this humor. She would often act out certain things to enhance her performance and give the audience strategic hints at what she would say next, which kept them guessing. She also made some jokes about the current political climate when it comes to the LGBTQ community. She was super entertaining to watch and definitely an exceptional end to the night.
Even though Baker’s provocative performance was refreshing and ended the night on a great note, the show as a whole was simply satisfactory. The lack of attendance created a dull atmosphere, which made the show appear insignificant. Although the talk by the pastor was captivating and new for a comedy show, it felt a little out of place and somewhat uncomfortable. However, I respect that the talk was given because of the tour’s larger purpose of mixing religion with comedy to open people’s minds. Overall, “Loosen the Bible Belt” seemed to lack in the one thing a comedy show needs: comedy.