Kristal Adams’ comedy album Ain’t I a Wombat? is a first introduction to the performer for some, and she does right by these newcomers (myself included) by showing us who she is right from the start. For one, Adams is not a political comedian—“I just have this face,” she clarifies. What she is is very, very funny. Adams, who’s worked as a consulting producer for Netflix’s The Circle, comes across as silly and self-aware from the very beginning, immediately putting the audience at ease. She regularly laughs at her own jokes, but in a way that’s endearing because, like I said, she’s very, very funny. Once Adams gets going, there’s no stopping her.
The album follows a standard stand-up format, as Adams uses graceful transitions to hop between various bits and stories. Though these jokes may seem unrelated on the surface, the main through-line of Ain’t I a Wombat? is Black womanhood. Adams speaks to her own experiences wearing her hair naturally, having the only Black American Girl Doll at the time (Addy, who was, predictably, a formerly enslaved girl), and being perplexed by Soul Cycle. The primary motif should come as no surprise considering the album title’s allusion to abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth’s famous speech “Ain’t I a Woman?” As Adams writes on her Bandcamp page, that well-known phrase and apocryphal title was “added when [Truth’s] speech was reprinted by people who wanted to sell an idea of Sojourner.”
It’s with the continued re-packaging and exploitation of Black women and the desire to tell her own story in mind that Adams decided to self-release Ain’t I a Wombat?. This determination to do things on her own terms is also part of what makes Adams’ bits so hilarious. She’ll have “resting minimum wage face” while working at Starbucks if she wants to, or use an adult diaper to get around the lack of bathrooms for female Uber drivers, or scat along to jazz music to keep her Uber passengers quiet. Who cares what other people think when you can be unadulteratedly funny?
As for crowd work, Adams connects with the audience despite eschewing traditional, direct interactions. Instead, you can hear crowd members responding affirmatively to her observations, like how she can tell white people still want to touch her hair. She’s telling her own story, yes, but she also speaks to others’ experiences. Adams’ joke writing is also carefully crafted to engage the audience. For example, her bit about adult diapers has evolved since she performed it back in 2019 at the Just For Laughs Festival. Instead of merely describing how the diapers should be (beige, itchy), she takes the listener on a journey inside the Target where they’ll be purchasing their own absorbent underwear.
Whether describing wombat feces or discussing Ninja Turtles, Adams’ verve and skill shine throughout Ain’t I a Wombat?, making it clear she’s a comedian on the rise.
Clare Martin is a cemetery enthusiast and Paste’s assistant comedy editor. Go harass her on Twitter @theclaremartin.