Using Comedy to Take on the Hard Stuff

I recently sat down with a student journalist over at NYU. Amelia Henry was interested in how I use comedy to talk about LGBTQ issues and climate change.

I think part of the process is being vulnerable. I need to first find the humor in myself. Take my conversion therapy experience for example. It is traumatic, but it’s also ridiculous. While it’s easy to make fun of the people who are running these programs, I had to look at myself and find what was ridiculous in myself. The other part of it is the commitment to be non violent. Humor can be violent, right? You can really attack people with humor. So I tried to create characters that I like, that I have an affection for, and I never try to hurt someone with my humor. Humor can be dismissive, and I’m not trying to make light of issues; I’m trying to shed light on them. Also, humor is one of those things where everyone has their own tastes. That’s something else I have to be aware of — it doesn’t work for everybody.

Amelia asked about my comic influences.

I have been very influenced in my comedy by Mad Magazine, by Joan Rivers, who was fearless in taking on really serious issues through comedy, by the marginalized people who’ve done comedy through the years like John Leguizamo, Lily Tomlin and Whoopi Goldberg. They all did one-person shows where they took on multiple characters because I think as a marginalized person, you’re often alone so you have to move in and out of all sorts of worlds and speak in different languages. That definitely has inspired me.

There is lots more in the interview about bing LGBTQ and finding our way in a world that often puts us in boxes.

You can get it out over on Washington Square News

 

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