Maria Bamford to headline tonight's benefit for local comedian Kate Urquhart
Big-name comedian Marc Maron sent Kate Urquhart this photo in support.
Kate Urquhart always wanted to be a comedian. A few years ago, she decided to go for it, quitting her day job as an information officer at Wells Fargo and launching herself into the local scene. She tested her material at open mics, attended conventions, and hosted two podcasts about comedy in the Cities.
Urquhart was diagnosed with cervical cancer this fall, and at 2:14 a.m. Sunday she died of complications. She was 44.
Tonight, the comedy community she loved is hosting a benefit to fight tears with laughter. Rick Bronson's House of Comedy is dedicating its weekly open mic, Hit or Miss Tuesdays, to Urquhart, featuring several of her friends and donating all ticket sales to her longtime-partner, Barb Yau. Maria Bamford, Urquhart's comedy idol, is flying in to headline.
"Comics aren't always known for being the best people in the world," says Jenn Schaal, a close friend of Urquhart's and a comedian herself. "We all have our demons. But Kate and Barb are the type of people who will without question be there, and so it has been just awesome to see people reciprocate for them."
Urquhart's illness progressed rapidly. Her last time performing a full set was in August, and by fall, she was diagnosed. After one round of chemo and radiation, her cervix looked bad cell-free. Right after Thanksgiving, Urquhart took the stage at the Monday Night Comedy Show for five minutes of standup about her cancer ups and downs.
Not long after, she found out that though the cancer was out of her cervix, it had spread to her liver. Before New Year's Eve, she started a second round of treatment, but the chemo had wiped out her immune system and she began suffering from infections.
By last week, Urquhart was in bad shape. Even if she survived the infections, she would still have to fight the cancer. Her friends began talking about what they could do, and hit on the idea of dedicating tonight's Hit or Miss to her.
Quickly, they brainstormed a dream lineup. As a joke, someone suggested Maria Bamford. But Mike Brody, who books the weekly event, decided to email her just to see. The Minnesota native agreed to fly home from L.A. to headline.
Urquhart was friendly with Bamford, who she met at a comedy convention and admired. "I just know Kate would be beside herself," Schaal says. "She looked up to Maria as both a person and a comic."
Tickets are $20, and all sales will go directly to Yau, in addition to the nearly $8,000 friends have raised online. Though Urquhart had insurance, Yau still has to grapple with medical bills, funeral expenses, time out of work, and the complications of not being legally married. The couple's house, for instance, was in Urquhart's name.
In addition to Bamford, Urquhart's close friend Maggie Faris will emcee the night, as well as Mike Brody, Pat Susmilch, Wendy Maybury, Schaal, and ten others on the bill.
"I think it will be really fun in a sad way," Schaal says. "I'm looking forward to trying to tell some jokes."
If you go:
Hit or Miss Tuesday Special Presentation: #ComedyForKate
7:30-9:15 p.m. Tuesday, January 22
Tickets are $20 at 952.858.8558 or online
Rick Bronson's House of Comedy
Mall of America, 408 East Broadway, Bloomington
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