Belles with Balls

Caroline Picard, a.k.a. the Cajun Queen, once drove through a blizzard over Loveland Pass, Colorado, in her two-wheel-drive Mazda pickup to perform for a mere 200 bucks. Now that's dedication. She has put over 225,000 miles on that truck, doing her blue comedy all over the country. "What people don't know about Houston," she says in her deep, southwest Louisiana drawl, "is that we have some of the most talented women in comedy anywhere." She should know. She's been around.

Mark "Big Daddy" Babbitt knows too. The owner of the Laff Stop has a reputation on the comedy circuit both for luring top national acts to Houston and for nurturing local talent. "Female comedians are rare," he says. "But Houston has a lot of them, and one of these girls is gonna break out." In fact, Houston has been the training ground for such famous breakout comediennes as Brett Butler and Janeane Garofalo.

The Brassy Broads showcase, which began in August and takes place on the first Wednesday of every month, is an opportunity for women who were already wowing open mike crowds to sharpen their chops. This guarantees to be a free-for-all, but not necessarily a male-bashing one. Brassy Broads is mostly just women talking about their lives... albeit in a non-Southern belle sort of way.

Open mike host Melissa Nichols is fresh-faced but filthy. Joanie Coyote, considered by many as the one Most Likely to Succeed, comes across as a '90s Lucille Ball. And Lahna Turner, electric guitar in hand, sings straight-faced satire about food, romance and multiple orgasms. The rest of the lineup, Jennifer Anderson and Dori Dutton, are no shrinking violets either.

And Picard, who is headlining the show, certainly does not hold back. She opens with "Let me warn y'all... I don't do a clean show. Fuck that shit. I'm 48 years old. I'm pre-menopausal. You're lucky I'm not on top of the roof with a fuckin' scope rifle right now." Who says a lady can't shoot straight from the hip?

The Brassy Broads of Comedy perform Wednesday, January 5, at 8 p.m. Laff Stop, 1952 West Gray, (713)524-2333. Call for reservations. Admission is $8.50; two-drink minimum.

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