Laughing Out Loud!

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Queer Comedy Showcase Comes to Town Hall for Pride

By Steve Desroches

Happy Provincetown Pride! There are all kinds of ways to celebrate Pride in Provincetown, but what’s better than the endorphin release that only laughter can bring? The Provincetown Business Guild, the organization that produces Pride, invited a roster of some of the best LGBTQ stand-up comics on the circuit to take over the stage at Town Hall for a night of uproarious comedy with a queer eye. Kristen Becker, Franqi French, Jaye McBride, Sam Morrison, and Anddy Egan-Thorpe are all set to make sure Pride is an event to remember as well as kick off a summer of great stand-up as the laughs continue every Saturday night at the Red Room at Velvet with Fruit Basket Comedy, a night of queer comedy hosted by Becker and Egan-Thorpe. Provincetown Magazine took a moment to talk to each comic about their life on the stage making people laugh, something that is vitally important and fraught with peril in our current cultural climate. Here’s what they had to say.

SAM MORRISON

PM: Who, if anyone, inspired you to pursue a life in comedy?

SM: Growing up, I admired Mike Birbiglia’s shows in a sort of obsessive way. The way he connected with the audience felt special, and I’ve always aspired for that, especially as I was first starting out. And then when I first moved to New York City comedian Ashley Gavin showed me that you could actually turn this into a career. 

PM: What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you while performing?

SM: I’m pretty sure a guy admitted to cheating on his wife during crowd work. And yes, it was in Atlantic City. The staff told me she left without him. 

PM: Personally, as a comic is there any topic that you think is off limits to joke about?

SM: Of course. We all make mistakes, but I try to avoid punching down and speaking for other people’s experiences. 

FRANQI FRENCH

PM: Who, if anyone, inspired you to pursue a life in comedy?

FF: Humanity. Comedy is alchemy. Through comedy we have an opportunity to affect people and change minds or at least make those minds think. My inspiration is the hope that we can put some good back into the world.

PM: What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you while performing?

FF: I had a geriatric couple proposition me for sex! 

PM: What’s the funniest joke you’ve ever heard?

FF: A dear friend had a joke that went something like: Want to hear my new rape joke? Colonialism.

PM: Personally, as a comic is there any topic that you think is off limits to joke about?

FF: NO! In comedy everything is on the table. The only rule is: BE FUNNY!!

JAYE MCBRIDE

PM: What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you while performing?

JM: Will Smith came on stage and slapped me for a joke about his wife

PM: How do straight audiences generally react to any jokes you have about LGBTQ topics?

JM: Great! 90+% of the crowds I perform at are ‘straight’ so I wouldn’t be here without them and talking about myself to them.

PM: What’s the funniest joke you’ve ever heard?

JM: It’s impossible to pick one, but Stephen Wright probably has made me laugh more than anyone else. One of my favorites of his is “I stayed up all night playing poker with tarot cards. I got a full house and four people died.”

ANDDY EGAN-THORPE

PM: When did you first know you wanted to be a stand-up comedian?

AE: On the morning of July 11, 2015, I walked into New York City’s famed Comedy Cellar. Rick Crom teaches an amazing stand-up comedy class there, and the moment I stepped into that room, I knew I had found a new passion.

PM: Who, if anyone, inspired you to pursue a life in comedy?

AE: My two comedy parents: Margaret Cho and Rick Crom; they are two queer comics who inspire me to this day. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Margaret before, and so I’m blessed that Rick has been an influence since my first day on stage.

PM: What’s the funniest joke you’ve ever heard?

AE: My co-producer and sister-in-comedy Kristen Becker tells this joke: “I had a tour called The Dykes of Hazard. We toured the country in a 1992 GMC Vandura 2500 Cobra. In case you’re not a lesbian, that’s a van.” And then she tags it with “We call it clitty-clitty bang bang” and IT! GETS! ME! EVERY! DAMN! TIME!

KRISTEN BECKER

PM: What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you while performing?

KB: I started Dykes of Hazard comedy in 2005 and we toured a lot of small towns in the deep south, playing mostly gay bars and queer campgrounds. We went to a clothing-optional gay campground on the border of Alabama and Florida. We drove down a dirt road for miles, and tucked into the woods was this gate that had barbed wire across the top. Honestly, if I didn’t know other queers that had played there, I would’ve thought it was a setup. The outside looked so redneck and NOT gay. Once you pulled in though, what a queer wonderland! Giant campers with rainbow flags and high-end patio furniture, etc. The crowd was probably 70/30 male to female ratio.

The show was in the cabana but was NOT clothing-optional. You had to wear pants to the comedy show. Immediately after, however, it was fair game. The three other women on the tour stripped down and jumped in the pool. Almost instantaneously all the naked guys jumped OUT of the pool. It was hilarious to watch.

PM: How do straight audiences generally react to any jokes you have about LGBTQ topics?

KB: Every now and again you can tell a few people are uncomfortable but isn’t that where we grow the most? Outside of our comfort zone?

PM: Personally, as a comic is there any topic that you think is off-limits to joke about?

KB: No, but it helps if you have figured out how to use your voice before you try tackling the tricky topics. I worry that we forget that good art happens when people are taken outside of their comfort zone—when they are challenged. Comedy (when done right) comes with the added bonus of feel-good chemicals the body releases when you laugh. Those endorphins, when used wisely, help change hearts and minds, It’s why I think queer voices in comedy are as important now as they were in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Yes, we have come far, but we have a long, long way to go.