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Buffalo native Brooke Cartus finds laughs through connections

Comedy comes naturally to Kenmore native Brooke Cartus. In fact, she wishes somebody had told her that long ago, as it could have saved a couple of years. She returns home to Buffalo to perform stand-up comedy on May 26 at Alleyway Theatre.

“I’m so excited to be back,” Cartus said during a recent phone interview from her home in Columbus, Ohio. She’ll also be celebrating the release of her second album, “I Have Straight Friends & Other Confessions,” which debuted at No. 1 on iTunes in April. “It feels strangely familiar. (Buffalo audiences) are the most gracious and honest you can find.”

Cartus began her life in the arts by performing in theater and music productions. While attending SUNY Potsdam, she tried stand-up comedy as a way to keep performing, and she was instantly hooked.

She continues to find success in comedy opening for comics including Colin Quinn, Rhea Butcher and Dana Goldberg, performing in several festivals and being named the best comedian of Columbus.

“I Have Straight Friends” took Cartus about three years to develop as she worked to craft material that would connect to any audience.

“I wanted to make sure it was genuine and reached a lot of people,” she said. “Even though I’m traveling around the country and telling jokes, I (want) to make sure things are relatable. I’ve seen comedians go up and say, ‘It’s so stressful flying around on a jet all the time.’ That’s not relatable. ‘Oh, that’s my problem, I have too many frequent flyer miles.’ ”

As a lesbian attorney and comedian, Cartus knows that description conjures certain impressions in people’s minds, but growing up in Buffalo and living in the Midwest has helped her perform in front of audiences of different backgrounds.

“When I first started, that was the challenge,” she said. “A lot of my jokes were about my identity. Now that I’ve matured as a comedian, a lot has changed about that. Sure I may talk about relationships, but in those relationships, there are incredible things – frustrations, challenges – that go across the board. People get hung up on stereotypes, and it’s really helpful to come in and just talk about my life.”

In comedy, Cartus finds her challenge is being able to relate to people completely different than her.

“Buffalo is such a fantastic city, because there’s a wide berth of political and ideological beliefs. It’s the same in Ohio. It challenges you. You can’t just get up and pander to your crowd. You have to have real conversations and meet people where they are. I think it’s an advantage to be in the Midwest, and growing up in Buffalo, where we’re all coming from different places but all want the same thing.”


Brooke Cartus

8 p.m. May 26 at Alleyway Theatre, 1 Curtain Up Alley. Cost is $25 to $40.

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