THE BLOG

John Early Is Young, Hungry and Coming Down the Stairs

04/02/2014 04:50 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

Two years ago, the New York Times ran an article questioning when a gay male stand-up comedian would break through to the mainstream. They pointed to talented comics like James Adomian, Gabe Liedman and Simon Amstell as possible hopes for a break-through gay male stand-up. It noted that gay men talking honestly about their sex lives might be challenging to a straight audience, and bemoaned that America still seems to like its homosexuals "flaming."

The big problem with the New York Times article was that it had failed to answer a more fundamental question: When will there be a gay male stand-up comic who will break through with gay men? Sure, there are occasional comedy shows at gay bars, and a few moderately successful acts (like me!) but folks like Adomian, Liedman, Amstell and I have primarily made our income and career off of entertaining the straight community. And yes, there are scads of female comics whom gay men adore. But gay guys have never been that excited about watching another gay man (not wearing a dress) tell jokes.

What I'm saying is you should know who John Early is.

That's John Early. He is cute and young and blond. He understands the ridiculous perfection of Nomi's first rehearsal from "Showgirls," but he doesn't approach it with overstated hipster irony. This is subtle, lovely homo camp, not the mincing-for-the-heteros kind, but for-us-by-us goodness. He's not afraid to be one of us, he's not afraid to be funny to a good beat, and the resulting product is a lot more watchable than some straight guy in a hoodie complaining about his girlfriend.

But John Early IS a stand-up, just one who's very comfortable with characters, theatricality and drag. Here he is with frequent collaborator Kate Berlant riffing on college students fresh from a year abroad.

John is deeply rooted in New York's gay performance scene, frequently collaborating with well-known queer sketch actors like Cole Escola and Erin Markey, and co-hosting his monthly variety event "Showgasm" at Ars Nova with drag queen, Hamm Samwich. He brings broadway and drag to stand-up, and the result is fucking delightful.

But John is fundamentally a stand-up comedian, trying to reveal himself as much as Richard Pryor or Margaret Cho, just using the bells, sequins and wigs of his theater school training to get there. This kid isn't hiding behind characters, he's showing himself to you through them.

John's going to do his solo show this Friday at Union Hall in Brooklyn. Go see it.