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No Shrinking Violet

Teachers College may be used to seeing its students discussed in superlative terms, but here's a new one: Kim Blacklock, a doctoral student in Motor Learning, bills herself as "The World's Tallest Female Comic." At 6'7", she isn't getting many challengers to the throne.
Teachers College may be used to seeing its students discussed in superlative terms, but here’s a new one: Kim Blacklock, a doctoral student in Motor Learning, bills herself as “The World’s Tallest Female Comic.” At 6’7”, she isn’t getting many challengers to the throne.

Blacklock chalks up her height to her multiethnic identity—Samoan, French and Irish, mostly. “I come from centuries of people having sex who weren’t supposed to,” she says. Of course, having a father who was a 6’6” defensive tackle for the San Francisco ’49ers didn’t hurt, either.

Blacklock always knew she’d tower above her peers. When she was a child, her mother brought her to a local playground. After awhile, some of the other children’s parents came over to Blacklock’s mother, upset about her daughter’s behavior. “Why can’t Kimmie play as nicely as the other six-year-olds?” they asked.

“She’s two,” her mother replied.

Blacklock makes her height and multiethnic identity a central part of her comedic persona. “I’m an outside-the-box person; I couldn’t fit even if I wanted to.” She compares her “brassy, sassy” stage presence to Margaret Cho and Sarah Silverman. “We come from the survivors of humanity’s atrocities. We’re still alive, we’re in your face, and we’re not going anywhere.”

Growing up in 1960’s Philadelphia, Blacklock discovered comedy was an effective survival tactic. “The neighborhood was a melting pot…well, more like a boiling pit. The white kids wanted to beat me up because my dad was dark, and the black kids wanted to beat me up because my mom was white, so I turned to comedy to get the crowd on my side.”

Her path to performing at venues such as Caroline’s on Broadway has been anything but straight, however. She played basketball for Rutgers University and was one of the first women in history to play professional basketball, joining the short-
lived Women’s Professional Basketball League. It wasn’t enough for her, though, and she went back to school at Williams-Smith, graduating in 1984 to begin a series of careers as an anti-nukes protestor (helping shut down the world’s largest stockpile of nuclear weapons at the Seneca Army Depot) and traveling all over the world as a reporter and photographer. “I wound up with so much information that I needed an outlet for it,” she says. “Some of it is so absurd that it belongs in the funny business.”

When she started out in comedy, Blacklock thought her audience would be in her demographic, but she’s seen her message of accepting the unorthodox to strike a chord with a younger crowd. She’s been a teacher—first as a substitute, then working in a bilingual French-American school—for more than 10 years, and she sees it as a way to affect as many people’s lives as possible. To reach even more, she found her way into TC, focusing on educational kinesiology.

“I’ve been interested in physical education that can warm up the cognitive centers,” Blacklock says. “[After performing exercises] my kids were off the charts in testing.  The potential is phenomenal.” She notes that the government of Poland trains teachers in kinesiology and that the process has some credence. “My job is to present it to the neurological community, which doesn’t want anecdotal or performance data. They want the science.”

She continues full-time with her performance and her studies, as well as being a single mother to three children, living life at a frenetic pace that helped put her in the hospital recently to treat rheumatoid arthritis. “I need to get back to the ancient motto of ‘Healer, heal thy self,’” she said.

Her eyes are always on the future, though. “The next generation is going to have to clean up the mess we’re in. It’s a big order, but it’s possible, because I know the strength of human beings.”

Published Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2007