Review by Valerie Lopez
We absolutely adore Carina Magyar.
She has been such a tireless champion of the Austin comedy scene and one of those uber-productive superhuman types – between parenting 2 young girls, cultivating the bible of Austin comedy, lastgas.org, working full time, writing, all on top of a successful comedy career; she is incredibly busy.
We were lucky to interview her during our inaugural year of Comedy Wham Presents and knew she was overdue for her “Volume 2”, as I affectionately call a guest’s return to the recording studio. We managed some nifty timing by having her be our featured guest for our 2nd Comedy Wham Live show at the Fallout Theater soon after the release of her first album, Issues on the Sure Thing Records label and now available on iTunes and Bandcamp. If you know Carina and follow her on any social media platform, you’ve watched her relentless and innovative approaches to promoting the album.
Having listened to the album, I’m pleased to report that the promotions and the wait were all worth it. Issues comes in at a tight 51 minute listen, with a mix of short and long tracks and explores themes that those lucky enough to see Carina perform regularly, know are near and dear to her heart: her daughters, working life, and transgender issues (both personal and political). Being transgender is incredibly important to Carina, and she has this incredible ability to turn a phrase, or frame her life as a transgender woman, in a way as to make it so perfectly relatable to her audience, no matter the gender and sexual identity.
Carina has a lengthy background as a writer and is used to giving her subject matter a lot of thought and the ways that she presents the more confusing and challenging elements of transgender life give it a universal accessibility. In her opening track, “BLT”, she admits “it’s hard to pantomime sex”, and in context of her own life, she makes us understand how difficult it is, but who among us wouldn’t find it challenging to pantomime sex; or, as in the case of “Getting Rid of Men”, finding effective deterrents to cat-calling?
Carina isn’t overly dependent on wordplay, but I must admit finding joyful surprise when, on “Transgender TSA”, one of her lines (no spoilers, listen for yourself) was a very silly, playful twist of words. In that same track, I found myself thinking “hmmm, I guess Carina’s not going to turn to the political challenges (demons, attacks, misguided attempts to legislate against transgender men and women who just want to use bathrooms in peace) of being transgender” and, like clockwork, she potently and artfully runs through an attack against attempts to legislate who gets to use which bathrooms.
To me, this was the peak crescendo of the album, full of intensity and emotion, but because Carina is such a thoughtful comic, she gives us a few tracks to ease into what is easily the most adorable closing track of any album we’ve come across. Some might argue it’s not adorable at all, it’s quite creepy, but you’ll have to listen for yourself to decide which side you fall on. Odds are very good, that Carina intended you to feel a bit of both because that’s what a brilliant writer and performer does. It’s a wonderful treat that she’s been able to capture this on her album and made it available for broad consumption.