This week’s issue of The Hollywood Reporter delves into the lives of four LGBTQ breakout comics: Joel Kim Booster, Daily Show correspondent Jaboukie Young-White and SNL scribes Bowen Yang and Sam Jay chat with THR about why they want queer audiences and everyone else to “just laugh.” Gathered for THR’s Comedy Issue photo shoot, all of the comics agree that the landscape for their genre, once steeped in otherness and dominated by commentary about representation, has changed.
Booster, on his early days in comedy vs. now: “There was this assumption that I wasn’t a real stand-up, I had this signifier: You’re a gay stand-up, which means something different, something less than. The one thing that distinguishes queer comedy for me as a queer person is that growing up, in terms of media representation, queer people have been forced into projecting their own narratives onto stories that aren’t explicitly about us. That creates a certain style. You grow up watching actresses tell your stories, you know? … This is a really interesting moment, because a lot of gay people in our generation are, for the first time, seeing our stories being told for us, by us.”
“This is a really interesting moment,” adds Booster, “because a lot of gay people in our generation are, for the first time, seeing our stories being told for us, by us.”
Booster, on why he’s game to talk about his sex life onstage: “In this country, when people think about gay men, they think about the way we have sex, and it grosses them out. It’s like, ‘You’re going to be grossed out by me, so I might as well be honest and transparent about the way I’m having sex.’”
Young-White, on queer stories like Love, Simon hitting the mainstream: “I feel like non-queer people are more likely to listen to us now,”
Jay, on why her sexuality can still be a barrier with audiences: “The emcee is going to make some lesbian joke, ‘Am I a man or a woman?’ That’s what drives me insane about the black community, and specifically black men — they act like n—s just started being gay last year. It’s like, black people have been gay! There’s been black queer people this entire time.”
Jay, on the pressure to perform for her queer, her black, and her woman community: “Because if you’re a minority, there’s just a part of your life that’s called switching, period. It’s how you function in the world, which is wack, but facts. But I just want to be an artist, and I’m not going to cater to anybody. Sometimes that pisses white people off, sometimes it pisses black or gay people off.”