Laughing at Life

Redmond Comic finds unique ways to get a chuckle

By Mary Stevens Decker, Staff Writer, Redmond Reporter

Redmond's Robin Fairbanks doesn't mind if you think she's nutty. In fact, she wants you to laugh at her.

She's a middle-aged single mom and a stand-up comic, in an era when performers compete with cable TV and the Internet.

"Live comedy has taken a downturn since the '80's, it's heyday," Fairbanks noted.

Since the Northwest Brewhouse closed, Redmond hasn't had a regular comedy venue, so Fairbanks performs at Seattle clubs like Giggles and Comedy Underground whenever she can. Trouble is, her neighbors prefer not to leave the neighborhood.

"Here on the Eastside, people have a fear of going over the water. They think Pioneer square is scary, or they don't want to pay for parking. It's understandable - when you pay for an admission charge, dinner, drinks and a babysitter, it's expensive," she admitted.

Yet it's also costly for her to take her show on the road.

"So we have to reinvent ourselves," she concluded, meaning herself and fellow funny women who've recently collaborated in "My Perfect Life and Other Delusions."

Coffee houses, women's workshops or benefits for women's health issues are some of the places that she, Redmond musician Eva Moon and Eastside comic JeanAnn O'Brien hope to market. They plan to use a cabaret-style show, which can be reconfigured to fit the function.

For example, at Soulfood Books on June 16, Fairbanks and O'Brien did their stand-up comedy routines in-between songs by Moon's five-piece band Eva Moon & the Lunatics.

The recurring theme was the humorous ways that women try to convince themselves that bliss is just out of reach.

They ask themselves, "Would my life be perfect if I just lost ten pounds? If I found the right man? If I had children?" Fairbanks explained.

"It's about true life and how we see life. We're laughing at life because it's never going to be perfect, no matter what you have."

One thing that Fairbanks doesn't have is height. She's just 4 fee 11 inches tall and has plenty of jokes about her tiny stature. She compares herself to the Keebler Elf, the Bride of Chucky or Mary Lou Retton "after letting herself go."

On the other hand, she skewers the shady guys who try to make themselves sound more appealing on dating websites: "I like long walks... to shallow graves..."

"I got started at this late in life, in my late 40s," she said, "It was very much like the move 'Punchline' with Sally Field. I'd be cooking dinner and then running out to perform in a club."

Divorced for three years, she has a 22-year-old daughter who attends the University of Washington and a 17-year-old son who goes to Redmond High School.

She said her kids are supportive of her comedy career, as are the people at her "day job," working at a Lasik surgery clinic in Renton.

Although Redmond isn't known for its flashy nightlife, Fairbanks said it's fun to perform in her hometown.

"I like to be a smart comic and a clean comic," she said, "Redmond is a place where people are educated and they get that."

More than anything she and her feminine comrades in comedy want to "inspire women that life over 40 is just beginning and you can do anything you want."

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