Peggy Platt, longtime doyenne of Seattle's comedy scene, died Monday at the age of 58. The Seattle Times quotes a family friend who says she died of "a heart attack in her sleep."
Comedian Lisa Koch met Platt in 1989 at Alice B. Theatre, a now shuttered but hugely influential gay and lesbian playhouse run by Susan Finque and Eric Des O'del (formerly Rick Rankin). Among many other revues and plays, they produced the beloved Holiday Survival Game Show. Platt wrote and acted in the show, and when Koch was hired the two began creating characters in the greenroom while they were putting on makeup.
In 1990 they decided officially to combine forces and become Dos Fallopia. They did feminist sketch comedy ever since.
Their most popular show, Ham for the Holidays, grew out of the Holiday Survival Game Show. It lived at Theater Off Jackson for a while before it found cushier (and much larger) digs in the Falls Theatre at ACT in 2013. As far as I can tell, the show received only glowing reviews in the pages of this paper.
Koch was on a ship in the middle of the sea when she found out her comedy partner of 28 years died. She said she was sad to be so far away.
"There are only a few people who I ever laughed with until I cried," Koch said. "You know the kind of laugh where you wheeze and make squeaking noises? We’d get to that point when we wrote our sketches for Ham. Five days a week, four hours a day for two months."
The duo was probably known best for their portrayal of Euomi Spudd and Wynotta Spudd, a country western mother-daughter team and a clear parody of the Judds.
"She fully inhabited that character. Mama Spudd was racist and Republican, and we were horrible and funny as hell," Koch said.
"Her face was amazing," Koch added. "She had a big, expressive face. She was kind of like a Johnathan Winters. She would morph easily into other characters. She was large woman, and she was really loud. The loudest person in the room, and the funniest person in the room. She was brilliant, she was a bright light in Seattle, and I’m going to miss her terribly."
Over the last several years Platt also wrote and performed for Sandbox Radio, a live radio variety show co-produced by Richard Zimon and Leslie Law.
Platt started her career as a stand-up. She was (and still is) the only woman to have won the Seattle International Comedy Competition. But Law said Platt grew as an individual writer and performer at Sandbox, developing a recurring segment called "Plattitudes." They were monologues about whatever she was on fire about at the time—"whether it was the election, or women’s health issues, or saving cats," Law said.
"She always considered herself first and foremost a feminist comic," Law said. "She firmly believed that feminism was and should be funny—and that’s how we were going to get stuff done. All that stick-up-your-butt seriousness was getting people nowhere. She wanted to make people laugh, and then while they were laughing teach them about advocating for women's issues. That was the thing she felt most passionately about."
"And she loved cats!" Law said. "Most recently she had four cats. [On Sandbox Radio] we highlight nonprofits in the area that need some light shown on them. She wrote a wonderful spot for Emerald City Kitty Harbor, a rescue and adoption organization, and it was hilarious."
Platt was also an activist and queen in the queer community.
"Peggy was always an honorary lesbian," said Seattle actor Michael Oaks. "She was never gay, but she was a strong ally to all of us."
Oaks said he knew Platt for 30 years. The two met when he was acting and doing administrative work for Alice B. Theatre. Co-director O'del (then Rankin) invited a bunch of theater people from the company over to his house for dinner to celebrate Oaks's birthday, but he didn't tell anyone it was Oaks's birthday. When he brought out the cake at the end of the meal and started coaxing people to sing the "Happy Birthday" song, Platt became livid and started shouting, "How dare you invite us to a birthday party without telling us it's a birthday party!”
"So that started our friendship," Oaks said.
The two took several road trips together. One of them was near Halloween, while President Bill Clinton was still in office. "It was the last time the AIDS quilt was displayed in its entirety on the great lawn, so we started off going to D.C. to see that. Then we drove up to Salem, Massachusetts, and then over to Fall River to stay the Lizzy Borden House, which had become a bed and breakfast," Oaks said. "She was a great traveling companion. She wasn’t a great driver, but she was great to keep you awake while you did the driving."
At the theater Oaks said Platt always threw herself into programs designed to help the queer community, often donating time. "She would do anything for anybody. She was so generous with her time and her money, which she had little of," he said.
For a long time Platt lived in a basement apartment with very little light in the Casa Del Rey on Capitol Hill, Oaks said, so she treated Vivace on Broadway as her unofficial living room.
"She held court," Oaks said. "In spite of being dyslexic—which is why she was legendary for never learning her lines in a timely fashion—she loved crossword puzzles. She’d start with the Sunday one and solicit everyone in the coffee shop for the answers. She always did them as a team."
Law also mentioned Platt's natural sense of team spirit. "Peggy was so game, and so smart," she said. "And what I think a lot of people don’t know about her—because she was a little notorious for being rough around the edges—is that she was incredibly humble, always looking to us for a little reassurance. She wasn't insecure, per say, but she was eager to get other peoples’ input and let that feed her process."
Though she occasionally struggled to get everything together before a show, Oaks said she would always pull through. "I directed her in a piece or two, and you never quite knew until opening night," he said. "But whatever struggles were going on during rehearsal, she always managed to pull it together and give you some kind of performance that was unforgettable."
Platt is survived by her brother Bill and his family, as well as her partner, who is also named Bill.