WIpe off the Lavender Face - appeared on Salon.com's "Dream TV," August 2006
[a bunch of people, including James Frey, Mark Cuban and one of my favorite writers, Meghan Daum, were asked by Salon to write about what kind of TV show they want to see this Fall -- the comments were so snarky and pissy, but maybe I am just an ingenue to the bloggoreah world. Anyway this is my entry]
Since the 70s, when I became cognizant enough to watch TV, there have been two general types of gay guys in comedy. One is the witty queen, played by a gay man, like the Great Forefathers of gay humor like Paul Lynde or Rip Taylor, the lovable Queer Eye Guys, the hilarious Jack from Will & Grace (…oh wait…that actor is supposed to be straight, right?).
The other is the witty queen portrayed by straight comedians, or, rather, ostensibly straight comedians, putting on sissy voices and waving their wrists around. I think of Damon Wayans and David Alan Grier In Living Colour’s classic “Men on Film” sketches and Jimmy Fallon and Horatio Sans and various other members of the SNL cast sending up the gayish retail world in their parody of the Jeffrey boutique in the Meatpacking District. But there are tons of other examples. Usually it’s just a stand up guy trying to make a point about how hard it is to buy clothes or some bitchy waiter he confronted and he will suddenly lisp and swish.
Sure, it was funny, I guess, in, like, the 90’s.
I suppose what made it funny was the leap the audience had to make -- seeing these full blooded heterosexual men using their god-given comedic gifts and expertly transforming themselves into a stereotype of a gay man. I guess you would call it Lavender Face.
Well, what if it was the other way around? I am dying for a TV show where my gay comic comrades and I get to nail straight guys. Through comedy, I mean. Lately in my solo shows, and with my friends John Roberts, Sandra Bauleo, Michele Brilliant and Gina Vetro in our sketch comedy group Pupu Platter, we have had a killer time putting on Straight Face -- acting like stereotypical straight guys with all their swagger and confidence and khakis. We pretend to be stern ratings-hungry newscasters or self-loving, eyebrow plucked C list TV stars like Chad Michael Murray or we put on shapeless baseball jerseys and just scream about sports like baboons. Straight men are so damn funny!
TV would allow for the costuming and detail that I can only dream of -- I could pretend I am in a harness on Road Rules Vs Real World and chew on worms while I apologize to my girlfriend for date raping her at Beach Week, or do an impersonation of annoyingly perfect actors like Brandon Routh or Hugh Jackman denying rumors that they are gay while wearing tight sexy tops and package-enhanced jeans, with their arms around their blonde depilated girlfriends that have celery stalk bodies and hard, round boobs like rugby balls.
I think it’s time to spin the Lazy Susan of comedy the other direction: gay guys doing impersonations of straight guys reveals a whole new spectrum of satire and the world is thirsty for it.
It’s fun and funny for an audience to watch a self-identified gay guy act like a straight guy jackass stereotype. For instance this week at our Pupu Platter show we’re planning to make fun of Mel Gibson, of course. There certainly is a farm of material out there.