Arts & Culture

Sex worker to stand-up: Raleigh-born Kaytlin Bailey brings comedy home

The CAKE Comedy Tour includes from left Abbi Crutchfield, Kaytlin Bailey, Carrie Gravenson and Erin Judge.
The CAKE Comedy Tour includes from left Abbi Crutchfield, Kaytlin Bailey, Carrie Gravenson and Erin Judge.

Kaytlin Bailey is a Raleigh-born comedian who used to be involved in both political consulting and sex work. Guess which one of those burnt her out to the point it drove her to do stand-up?

If you said “sex work,” you’re wrong – and more on that later.

Bailey says it was dealing with the shady world of politics – she worked at a progressive political consulting firm for two years, where she worked on 11 different campaigns in 12 cities in 9 states – that made her realize comedy was her calling.

“I quit politics, so it felt like a natural transition,” says Bailey, 30, on the phone from Boston. “I wanted to be honest for a change.”

In 2011, she moved to New York to pursue stand-up, and that’s where she also found comrades in fellow female comics Abbi Crutchfield, Carrie Gravenson and Erin Judge. A year later, Bailey had the idea to go on the road with her thirtysomething pals and call it the “Pink Collar Comedy Tour,” an obvious takeoff on the “Blue Collar Comedy Tour.” After five years of doing shows as “Pink Collar,” they’ve decided to change the name to the “CAKE Comedy Tour,” which will be making a stop Friday night at Kings.

“All of our careers had gotten better, so we’re no longer doing pink-collar jobs,” says Bailey. “So the name no longer fit.”

Yes, things have been picking up for the ladies. Crutchfield is the co-host of truTV’s “You Can Do Better.” Judge released her first novel, “Vow of Celibacy,” last year. And Gravenson is gathering up material so she can record her first comedy album. “We’re professional comics, and we’re ready to level up a little bit,” says Bailey. “So, we thought we were ready for a rebranding – and our initials spell ‘cake,’ and everyone loves cake.”

And there is Bailey, who has written and performed a one-woman show about her experiences as a teenage escort right here in Raleigh. It’s currently titled “Consensual Business” (the original title can’t be printed in a family newspaper), and was featured in last year’s NYC Fringe and United Solo Festivals.

Bailey, who says she will go on tour with “Business” later this year, won’t be dipping into that part of her life during her “CAKE” set. (She says she mostly talks about “how funny her dad is.”) Besides, she wants people to pay more attention to the fact that four women are doing a night of comedy without any dudes on the bill.

“That was one of the reasons that I put this tour together,” she says. “I wanted to travel with women instead of men because, sometimes, it can be weird.”

Weird?

“When you’re traveling with a male comic, sometimes there can either be the perception that there’s a sexual thing happening or just the nature of the stuff.”

It’s quite messed up to hear how these women have had to fend off unwarranted advances in the past from comics, bookers or even audience members. Says Bailey, “I don’t know a single woman in comedy who hasn’t had some weird interaction with a dude in comedy – and that isn’t a part of the ‘CAKE’ tour.”

So, let us all give props to Bailey for proving once and for all that if you get a bunch of female comics together and put on a show – believe it or not – people will show up.

“When we first started booking the tour, I was hearing from bookers and PR people that they just didn’t know how to market an all-female comedy tour,” she remembers. “So, I called [expletive] and we’ve been selling out theaters for the past five years. So, if anyone has any questions about how to market women in comedy, give me a call.”

Details

Who: “CAKE Comedy Tour” with Kaytlin Bailey, Abbi Crutchfield, Carrie Gravenson and Erin Judge

When: 8 p.m. Friday

Where: Kings, 14 W. Martin St., Raleigh

Cost: $25

Info: 919-833-1091 or kingsraleigh.com

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