Well, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I mean, after I wanted to be an acrobat, THEN I wanted to be a writer. Humor runs in my family and it has always come naturally to me conversationally. It rarely influenced my writing, though. I didn’t have a “no jokes allowed” rule with my writing before but I mostly focused on more serious writing. And by that, I mean comic book writing. A few years ago, someone said I was funny and should do stand-up, so I did. Then I became friends with other comedians and asked them to come do my shows with me. So, for most my life I’ve been a writer and more recently a comedian and even more recently a producer.
How do all 3 hats complement each other?
I’m sorry, I just imagined wearing 3 hats at once. THAT’S CRAZY. But seriously folks, I’d say that writing definitely influences my stand-up in a way that is unusual. I write all my jokes out in almost essay format. Which, I think to most comedians, is very different. When I see other comedians notes, it generally is just flow charts and bullet points. They have an idea and let it flesh out on stage. For better or worse, the writer in me has a much more firm idea of what I want to do before I bring a joke to the stage. It almost always changes in reaction to the audience but writing it out in full beforehand is just the way my mind works. As far as how being a producer complements the other parts? Well, I’d like to say it doesn’t change anything but in reality, worrying about audience turn-out, publicity and just the general boring stuff of putting on a show can negatively affect a performance. It’s hard to imagine that you lost probably $100 on a show then go up and try and be funny. And production doesn’t affect writing much at all other than time consumption. When I have a press release deadline, it’s hard to finish that She Hulk fan fiction.
Queer Comedy at Zanies is in its third season, how has it changed from the first season?
When I started this show, all I wanted to do was open the door at the historic comedy club Zanies to queer comedians and audiences and create a safe space for both. Straight audiences might be more likely to go to a queer comedy show if it is at a mainstream comedy club as opposed to a gay bar. And gay audiences might be more likely to go to a mainstream comedy club if it’s a queer comedy night. I think it’s safe to say we’ve accomplished that goal. And though we can always find more and more people that haven’t seen a show yet, my perspective has shifted a bit. Now we’re growing the show to include huge nationally touring performers. James Adomian who is headlining March 26th has done everything from Conan to Fallon and is currently headlining SXSW as we speak. For the love of She Hulk, he opened for the legendary Joan Rivers! That’s like being handed the rainbow baton. So, in a lot of ways, we’ve just gotten bigger. We stopped being the gay show that could and are trying to make Chicago a queer comedy mecca that is world renowned.
Where is the show going in the future?
I’m going to be a fiscal oral bottom. In other words, I’m going to put my money where my mouth is. We’ve had a contest every season, the first year was any queer comedian who hasn’t appeared in Queer Comedy at Zanies. It was a great excuse to open the doors to new talent. The second season expanded upon that idea with three challengers to the previous season’s three winners and it was judged and headlined by New York comedian Brad Loekle. On Tuesday September 24th, we’re having another contest that will have huge cash prizes as well as national media exposure to entice comedians from all across the country. But for now, I’m just excited to have a drink with James Adomian after he pants Chicago with his hilarity.