Career: Musician and Stand-Up Comedian
Location: New York
Who’s your Fred?: Dora
Cat Yezbak has no shortage of inspiration in her life. A stand-up comedian and musician by trade, Cat has absorbed the comedy of Tig Notaro and Wanda Sykes, worshiped at the sound altar of Tori Amos and Paloma Faith, and even has a secret love of Pamela Anderson draped on a hangar somewhere in the closet. And laying back and watching it all is Dora, her hoodie-sporting pup and self-appointed manager.
We sat down to ask Cat about her career, the influences that refresh her creative spirit and drive her artistic vision, and of course her dog, Dora.
Fred: Hi, Cat. Thank you for taking the time to chat with us. We are amazed by your breadth of creativity through the different mediums that you perform. We’d love to begin by asking about your work as a member of Local Woman.
The soundscape on tracks like “Hungry” and especially “Alibi” gives us a unique blend of moody synth and more upbeat rock. How did you evolve this sound, and what are some of your influences?
Cat: My bandmate, Zachary Brewer and I make a good duo. Zach is an incredible musician and songwriter. He’d been playing in bands longer than I had. He’d already written a lot. So for many of the songs, when I first came on board, he’d say “Hey Cat, can you sing over this?” And I would. I’d come up with a vocal melody and lyrics. Zach and I evolved our sound by playing on each of our strengths, and by letting each other explore new ideas. With Local Woman I derived inspiration from Karen O, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sharon Van Etten, Twin Shadow, Blood Orange, Perfume Genius, Rufus Wainwright, Cocteau Twins, and Zach introduced me to John Grant. We got to see him live together. I’m endlessly inspired by musical artists across all genres.
Fred: Can you share your earliest musical memory that left a lasting impression on you?
Cat: I remember seeing Tori Amos live for the first time in 1998 at Ithaca College. The moment she stepped on stage I fell in love with her, and when she sat down at those pianos and started playing and singing, it was over. I recently started a tradition where I go by myself to see Tori play every time she’s in New York. It’s like going to church.
Fred: What do you enjoy most about performing live?
Cat: Feeling a connection with people and tapping into different parts of myself.
Fred: When expressing your creativity through comedy, music, or fashion, where do you draw inspiration from?
Cat: I studied theater in school and was in plays when I moved to the city. Plays have always been an inspiration. Portraying different characters has been an inspiration. I love film and TV. I love watching great actors act. In daily life, nothing makes me feel all the feels like music does. And hearing my favorite performers live is life affirming.
Being unhappy with the status quo in the world fuels my comedy. Writing about things I know and finding the humor in them with the hope that others can relate. At a certain point all of these artistic expressions blend together and influence the others, which often produces the most compelling art.
Fred: What initially ignited your love for performing?
Cat: I studied acting because I wanted to escape myself and become other people. I also knew I didn’t want to live a “traditional” life, and I knew being an artist would never be mundane.
Fred: Who would be a dream comedian, musician etc you’d love to partner with on a performance?
Cat: I want to open for Maria Bamford. I’d love to work with Tig Notaro, Michelle Buteau, Sam Jay, Ramy Youssef and Wanda Sykes. Musically, I just want to get to see Paloma Faith live! Can anyone get me a ticket?!
Fred: Your Instagram shows how honest and relatable your style is. One fit that we especially love is this one from dapperQ’s NYFW show at the Brooklyn Museum.
In the pic, you’re wearing a shirt featuring Pamela Anderson’s 1996 film “Barb Wire”—which is a deep cut that we adore. Was that a film you especially liked at the time, or was it more of an aesthetic choice?
Cat: Oh, thank you. I love Pam Anderson. That’s the only reason. I’d been looking for a vintage Barb Wire shirt for a while, so I put in a special request with my friend who owns Roman Adler Vintage in LA. And she found one! In mint condition. And my girlfriend surprised me with it. It’s my favorite tee.
Fred: How does fashion play a role in your life, especially in terms of self-image?
Cat: Fashion helps me express my gender. I never considered myself a fashionable person, but I’ve realized that one’s style can give people a glimpse into who you are, which I think is very cool.
Fred: Speaking of fashion, Dora has a favorite hoodie, doesn’t she? Can you tell us about Dora’s favorite JUST FRED hoodie and dog bag?
Cat: We love the Weekend Dog Tote and so does Dora. We often find her in there relaxing. It’s her apartment within our apartment. And the Snap Back Dog Hoodie is rad. My only complaint is that you don’t make it in human sizes.
Fred: We couldn’t help spotting a pic of you tubing with Dora and friends. Do you often take Dora on outdoor adventures?
Cat: Yes! That’s when she’s happiest. So we try to give her that opportunity as much as possible. And she and I both love to swim. But only one of us tends to perform acts of water rescue. Guess which one.
Fred: How does upstate New York compare to city life for you? Do you find yourself missing one or the other?
Cat: When I’m upstate, I don’t want to come back to the city and when I’m in the city I never want to leave. I love them both. I love being with the trees and seeing the stars at night and experiencing quiet upstate. I’ve also become excellent at building fires which I feel pretty great about.
But nothing compares to New York City. That’s why they write all those songs about it. I love getting on the subway and seeing people from all different walks of life, of all colors, genders, ages, beliefs, going somewhere together. It gives me hope for humanity. And there is an energy here that’s very special. I also love good food and a good martini.
Fred: Does Dora ever inspire your work, whether it’s giving you a mood lift or providing a funny story to tell?
Cat: Dora very much inspires my work. I’ve been writing about her a lot lately. I refer to her as Richard III because she’s a tyrant. She is a 12-pound manipulative beast, awful to everyone in her path. But at home, she’s the most loving, sweet creature. I don’t think Richard III was known for being nice at home so probably not the best comparison, but you catch my drift.
Fred: What’s on the horizon for you? Can we anticipate any upcoming shows?
Cat: I’m focusing on stand-up. I’ve found that writing, in general, and writing and performing stand-up gives me the fullest range to express myself right now. I will always love music and will always play. I hope to incorporate music into my stand-up too. I just finished a show at the Kraine Theater in the East Village and I’m working on a solo show for 2024. I’ll keep you posted.
Fred: And now a question for Dora! What is your favorite thing to do when Cat gets home from a long day of performing?
Cat: Bring her my Christmas Bear and lick her face.