"I'm not gay, but man, that was hysterical."
"You... you are ridiculous. Great show."
"You're pretty funny, for a gay guy."
Bubbly, high energy, casual and effortless; the four most common characteristics associated with my performances. The fifth word, gay, is my personal favorite. Two years ago I jumped on an unfinished roller coaster of comedy. Little did I know, I was about to embark on the ride of a lifetime. The ride being a heterosexual, male dominated comedy career covered in double entendres, puns, and unfortunate cargo shorts.
So how does a gay comic compete against heterosexual comics, when an audience of 96 percent straight men/women and 4 percent bar staff sell out a venue? And how does a gay comic stand in front of a crowd of conservative locals, and kill?
I've asked Siri but her answer, "Calculating directions to Trader Joe's," was not the response I was looking for.
Ask any gay man what he's doing on a Thursday night, and I guarantee you his response will be utterly different from mine. In fact, I'd bet two Lady Gaga meet-n-greet tickets that most gay man would wince at the thought of a career in standup comedy.
"Thursday, well Thursday night I'll be driving three hours east into the Mojave Desert, performing at a sports bar, raking in a glorious $75, then sharing a king bed at a Motel 6 with two straight men I have yet to meet. Did I mention it's a benefit for 50 naval officers and their wives?"
I spend all night tickling a bone, a funny bone that is, and the only happy ending I receive is uncontrollable laughter.
A fly on the wall can describe the anxiety, adrenaline, and dire need for attention stirring across the off-white wallpaper and decrepit floral comforter as each comedian edits their set. Race, sexuality, gender, and popularity disappear, and all that's left are three starving artists dying to put on a great show.
On stage, my voice reeks with confidence. Throw in some self-deprecation, mixed metaphors, and sexual innuendos and you are now standing in my beat-up pair of Converse. Don't forget, always be adorable. Likeability is everything.
Learning more with every mile along the road, I have put together a somewhat simple algebraic equation.
Vulnerability (+) Self-deprecation (+) Honesty (-) Anal Sex (+) Sexual Innuendos (x) Adorability (x) Relativity = Cackling
Now if there were some way to formulate those words into decimals and equate them, standup comedy would be easy, but there's not. Stage time is your scientific calculator, and sometimes that calculator is in Lewiston, Idaho or Fort Worth, Texas. Sometimes using that calculator can get you chased out-of-town, or, well, severely injured.
Why would any right-minded queer willingly book a show in southern Wyoming or along the Bible belt?
For one egotistical reason: the rush is that much better.
Like a drug, I find myself wanting more. Laughter is my cocaine, and each punch line delivered is the straw I use to snort it up. More minutes, more gigs, more tours. More hours on the road, more hurdles to jump and more locals to share a beer with. I want more, because the farmer, who just choked on a chicken wing laughing at the homo on stage, joking about attempting to change a flat tire, might just pull over and help the homo next time he's stranded on the side of the road.
I want to prove, black, white, male, female, gay or straight -- we are all the same. I want a mainstream gay comic to fill the Staples Center and sell-out Madison Square Garden. I want a homosexual comic to headline the Phoenix Improv and crush an audience of cowboys and bridesmaids. I want a boy who wears size 30 skinny jeans and leopard print underwear to receive a standing ovation at the State Theater in Detroit, Michigan.
I am that boy.
It gets lonely. It becomes draining. It even makes you question your self-value. I've gotten scabies, cited for public urination, and banned from a Historical monument. Yet there is something addictive about late night fast food binges and charity gigs along the road that reassure me, this is exactly where I'm supposed to be.
Hidden behind the frustration of Prop 8 and the federal legalization of same-sex marriage, a free solution is overlooked.
I'm here to make the world laugh, one book, one venue, one 26-hour road trip at time. I'm starting from the bottom, but this is my promise:
I'll never give up.