LGBTQ comics are grabbing their mics and queering up comedy at every level of the industry.
A lot has happened since Lea DeLaria performed on The Arsenio Hall Show in 1993, making her the first openly gay comic to appear on U.S. television.
Today, from Bob the Drag Queen to Bowen Yang, to Tig Notaro and Ts Madison, LGBTQ representation has never been more centerstage.
Dylan Adler, a comedian, actor, writer, and musician based in NYC and LA, hot off the heels of performing at the New York Comedy Festival, told GLAAD he’s incredibly “excited by the evolution of queer Comics in the comedy space.”
“When I started, I could name all of the well known queer comics on my hand but now there are so many,” he said.
“I really look up to people like, Joel Kim Booster, Bowen Yang, Preacher Lawson, Atsuko Okatsuka, River Ramirez, and Matteo Lane, just to name a few. I remember Joel Kim booster, Matteo Lane, and Preacher Lawson were some of the first queer comics I saw performing on Youtube who made me feel like I could maybe go out and try comedy. It was very inspiring to see them talking very candidly about gay shit onstage.”
On working with James Corden recently, “The experience was truly a dream come true! I worked on the show for six months before it ended and the writers room was so welcoming and kind,” he added.
“I have done live theatre for years but it wasn’t until I started making TikToks that I actually started to lean into my comedic side,” she said. Adding that, “Since then, I was cast in one of my all time favorite comedy shows: A Black Lady Sketch Show. It was obvious that this one of the things that I am meant to do, so standup comedy naturally felt like the next step for me. It is absolutely the most vulnerable thing I have ever done. The only way to find your flow is to see what the audience responds well to, ON THE SPOT.”
“I think my all-time top inspiration right now is Ayo Edebiri,” Gurley continued.
“The way she used standup and internet sketches to propel her film career is so huge to watch in real time. I love her! I also look up to my friends Ru Anderson, EJ Marcus and of course Dylan Adler. Every time I see the three of them live, they somehow get more hilarious and more creative. It’s super inspiring to me.”
This week, Gurley and Adler are teaming up with comedian, creator and self-proclaimed “recovering Navy brat,” Quincy Bazen, for a live stand-up show in Los Angeles.
The show, entitled “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” will take place on Thursday, November 16 at The Virgil.
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“Literally, ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ refers to the official US policy on LGBTQ+ serving in the military people from 1994-2011, which essentially banned any and all mention of queer identity in the government,” Bazen told GLAAD.
“I grew up as a military brat during this time, moving to a new state/country/continent pretty much every year until I graduated high school, and when people ask me where I’m from, I never really know how to answer them. So I wrote this show about it!”
On his shade of humor and what he’s in it for, Bazen explained, “My comedy is a big kiki! I’m a big talker, I love to converse — if conversing was a one way street where I’m talking for an hour and other people occasionally respond with validating laughter!”
Bazen went on to say, “I think I offer a unique perspective; the hypermasculine military environment I grew up in was steeped in conservative conformation and capitulation. I didn’t meet a gay person until I was in college. I was boxed into a world where no one was ‘saying gay’ and I still ended up with the limpest wrist this side of the Mississippi. My humor stands in the face of everything I was brought up to believe. It’s a celebration of queerness and a beacon of authentic expression.”
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The coming together of this hilarious trio says everything and more about the growing community of comics across the comedy industry at-large. In every way, the stage has never been bigger and queer comics are more than excited to not only share that stage, but help create new ones for the next generation of quick-witted jesters.
“I met Quincy recently at the Lyric Hyperion when we were booked on a show together and I love his comedy style so much,” Adler said.
“Quincy reached out to me to ask if I could open for him and I was like ‘HELL THE F*** YAS BITCH.’ Also I’m so excited to perform with DaMya because she’s one of my good friends and I love her so much. [DaMya and I] were part of a sketch group production in LA called ‘Stapleview’ where we got to write and act in comedy sketches. I love her comedy so much and I can’t wait to see her!”
“Quincy and I were introduced by our mutual friend Alexis G. Zall. She invited me to do my first standup set at her show and connected us shortly after,” Gurley added. “Dylan did a set at the first standup show that I ever went to, so I think that coming together to support a fellow queer comic is so full circle.”
Looking ahead to his headlining show in LA, Bazen looks to infuse comic relief into real life, but intends to keep it real all at the same time: “We need queer comedy now more than ever! It’s been a tough time for our community the past couple years. We’ve been sought out, scapegoated and used as a red herring to distract from the actual problems we have going on in our country and the world…For so long, queer people have been relegated to side-characters with traumatic stories and I’m so over that! Queer people also experience so much joy and love and happiness, and if I can add to that for an hour, that’s everything to me. “
“Different people will see different parts of me more than others, but as most queer people know, that’s a societal problem. I think that I spent a lot of time altering my gender expression, dialect, etc. to cater to all of the things that I thought I should be for a very long time. The cool thing about comedy is that I feel like I can honor all of me in whatever ways I like and find an audience organically,” she said.
“For me it’s the friendships I’ve made that mostly keeps me in comedy,” Adler added.
“Comedy can be hard a lot of the time and to have a good group of people to lift you up is very important. I’m also very inspired by what my friends are creating and doing. I love working with people that I love and admire.”
GLAAD’s Director of Transgender Representation, Alex Schmider noted that queer representation in comedy is exactly that and more.
“LGBTQ survival depends on us creating joy, finding ways to laugh together, and sharing insights that can only come from truly knowing ourselves,” Schmider said.
“Comedy, when created by queer and especially trans people, has the unique ability to connect us all through our shared humanity.”