Intercultural Lecture Series: Woman Trapped – Alison Grillo

Janelle Crubaugh
Staff Writer

PC: UNCG Office of Intercultural Engagement

On Friday, March 15,  Alison Grillo, a transgender comedian, graced the stage of the UNCG auditorium and performed a knee-slapping comedy performance. Grillo was actually the very first transgender comedian to appear on the NBC reality TV show “Last Comic Standing.”

Her program kick-started with jokes of her experiences as a transgender comedian, some of which occurred at comedy clubs, and others at university events such as this one. Grillo continued on engaging the audience, asking members what majors they were studying. A student in the front row claimed to be an english major, to which Grillo asks, “Oh, are you gay then?” His response was followed by a roar of laughter erupting from the audience.

Her sarcastic and bold remarks were blunt, witty and mostly unpredictable. This added to her overall unique and quirky style of comedy. Around the middle of her show, Grillo presented a slideshow of photographs dating back to her great grandparents, her grandparents, her parents and then her early life presenting as a man.

During the time before her transition, she was in denial, confused and repressed, as she mentioned. One of the main themes that she frequently discussed throughout her performance was self-love, and how it was the platform for her transition, as well as her career as a comedian.

She expressed to the audience that her comedy and the jokes she makes about her transition have always been her way of dealing with her immense transition. Grillo also brought up a conversation that she had with Jim Gaffigan who commended her for her joke, “I used to work as a waitress… Before that I was a waiter.” The audience really got a kick out of that one.

This event was coordinated by the Campus Activities and Programs (CAP), as well as the Intercultural Leadership Council. Amanda Rae Koslow, the program coordinator in the CAP Office gave some insight to the organization of this event, as well as how they came to choose Alison Grillo to perform.

In describing the event, Koslow stated, “CAP and the Office of Intercultural Engagement (OIE) coordinated together to bring Alison Grillo, who is actually one of the three speakers that the Intercultural Leadership series is bringing for the semester. Elliott Kimble, who works in OIE was the individual who discovered Alison Grillo and made the initial contact with her agent. With her being a transgender comedian and even more, the first transgender comedian to perform on Last Comedian standing, this made her a great choice to perform for one of the various comedy shows that are in accordance with UNCG Weekends programing.”

He continued by saying, “We actually knew she would be coming since this summer, so we definitely had this planned for a while and we were so excited to bring her.”

With that being said, CAP and OIE executed a smooth and heartwarming event. It provided a lot of interaction between Grillo and the audience, even making time for a Q&A at the end of her performance, along with an allotted time for a meet and greet after the show.

Audience member Theo Barklage had some great remarks about the performance. “I really liked it! I like the emphasis UNCG has on diversity, and also I’m trans, and I like trans people, so it’s a good time!” he said, giving a chuckle and a smile in response.

One of the really great aspects about this event and why it seems to draw in such a crowd is the specificity and inclusion of LGBTQ+ topics. Grillo’s comedy was exceptional, in that she took a monumental and hard transformation in her life- along with the current bits and surprises of this new life- and expressed that struggle through comedy.

Audience member James Stephens, a UNCG freshman studying biology, said, “I enjoyed how much she incorporated her own experience. I think that is important for the positioning of herself as a transgender comedian and it is also part of the draw of her act, but at the same time she had some really great comedy.”

Be sure to look up Alison Grillo if you are big into comedy and looking for a laugh!

Categories: Features

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