As a fourth-grader, Kristin Garrison tried out for the sixth-grade talent show. For her audition, she sang “You Light Up My Life,” a cappella, in front of the entire lunchroom. She got cut. Now, about two decades later, Garrison has spun that early setback in show business—and a swarm of other insecurities—into a captivating stage routine that manages to be self-deprecating without being overly self-absorbed. Her confession to befuddlement over the stock market, for example, leads Garrison to wonder for all of us: “If our entire economy relies on our consumer confidence, why don’t we just get together and decide to be confident?” “To speak is to suffer,” Garrison tells her audience, “and I ought to know, because I devour language like a bulimic in front of an open refrigerator.” Garrison uses only a few simple props in her routine; for instance, a fan, some ripped-up paper, and a sports coat make for a hilarious impersonation of CNBC correspondent Maria Bartiroma. But ultimately, it’s Garrison’s attention to—and adeptness for—language that transforms her seemingly moot musings (the utility of the word “dude”) into waggish narratives and trenchant observations. “I’ve been thinking about the language you despise,” says Garrison. “If you are surrounded by it long enough, it sinks into you the way Kool Aid stains your lips.” Dude. Check out Garrison’s routine at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 11, at District of Columbia Arts Center, 2438 18th St. NW. $5. (301) 891-1129. (Felix Gillette)