The first time I saw stand-up comedian Whitney Chitwood perform, she was onstage at the Green Mill digging into the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission during the "live magazine" variety show The Paper Machete. It was fall 2017, and the Supreme Court was hearing arguments about whether a baker could refuse to make a cake for a gay wedding.
"[The baker's] argument presupposes that every gay wedding is just themed 'gay,'" Chitwood said. "Gay weddings have a bunch of themes. There's Wizard of Oz. There's Melissa Etheridge. There's woodworking—that's a bisexual theme, by the way."
One year later, the jokes she wrote for that performance became the backbone of her very first comedy album, The Bakery Case, recorded on the very stage she first told the joke. And on October 18, it will be released to the world on Stand Up! Records. "I've been a mess," Chitwood says about waiting for the record to be released. "Being the first one, it's like being a first-time mom, it's like, 'Oh god, I'm gonna kill it! I will murder it.'"
If the album coming out is the equivalent of a baby being born, then consider the release show at the Newport Theater on October 17 its christening, where it will be blessed by comedy godparents Mallory Bradford, Chrissi Rose Hartigan, Raegan Niemela, and Molly Kearney. Since seeing Chitwood that first time in 2017, I've seen her working on this hour at shows around the city, and you know it's going to be good when you hear the same jokes over and over for two years straight and still end up laughing until you can't catch your breath every single time.
But I'm not the only one who's been appreciating the material. For the past two years, Chitwood's been performing the final jokes for everyone from her friends in Chicago to folks in rural America, including jokes about sexuality, gender identity, her relationships, her family, and more.
"That was definitely a fear because it's about gay shit," Chitwoods says. "But gay shit worked in North Dakota. Because it is just a universally human story. Regardless of who you're doing, you want to be treated fairly, and you want to be able to feel safe."
With this album, Chitwood hopes to introduce herself to the world, and once it's out she'll be ready to go even deeper—she already has a new half hour of material that leaves behind any timely political hook in favor of jokes about her upbringing and more of her personal experiences. Her family, who she says has been extremely supportive despite being the target of some bits on the first album, already has some notes for the next project.
"My dad mostly complains that I don't talk about him enough," Chitwood says. "He gets mad that I have a bunch of jokes about my mom and I don't have any about him. This next one will be more an ode to my father. Are you happy now, Dad?" v