Kate Berlant comes to Up Comedy Club this weekend. Credit: Eric Michael Pearson

If you didn’t know Kate Berlant was a professional comedian, you might think she’s just an eccentric audience member who wandered into the comedy club to spout her thoughts on cosmetic theft. “I believe 100 percent that women have the right to steal cosmetics, because women upon birth are forced into an economy where you have to pay for your own subjectivity constantly,” Berlant says in a typical bit. “So if you don’t have certain creams or lotions, the state won’t recognize you.”

With her measured stroll and long gaze, Berlant strikes the perfect balance between portraying an exaggerated character and seeming completely genuine and off-the-cuff. Is she really a self-deprecating feminist who dreams of having a brother for the sexual tension, or does she just play one onstage? A little bit of both.

Everything she says sounds like it’s just popped into her head, and like you’re the specific person she wants to tell it to. When she was in town last summer for the Comedy Exposition, I saw her make the same jokes two nights in a row, and I still don’t believe any of it was planned; just a strange coincidence, really, that her stream-of-consciousness monologue followed the exact same pattern with the exact same punch lines each night. But whatever Berlant’s actual method, she’s hilarious and poignant every time.  

Kate Berlant, Fri 1/22-Sat 1/23, 8 and 10:30 PM, Up Comedy Club, 230 W. North, upcomedyclub.com, $20.