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Julio Torres, Bowen Yang, Jaboukie Young-White and other young gay comedians are redefining American humor

  • There are a lot of young gay comedians these days who can't be pigeonholed or subdivided into groups, including Torres, Yang, Young-White, Dewayne Perkins, John Early, Alex English, Michael Henry, Jay Jurden, Ryan O’Connell, Larry Owens, Matt Rogers, Benito Skinner (AKA Benny Drama) and Drew Tarver. As Mark Harris explains, "even as a kid, Perkins could vaguely perceive that gay entertainers were, in certain other realms of pop culture, 'having a moment.' It didn’t feel great. Having a moment, in the late ’90s and early aughts, meant that, suddenly, a gay performer or character would appear in a space that had been previously dominated by straight people — say, at the center of a TV sitcom like Will & Grace or a stand-up special, or as the voice of reason to the leading lady in a romantic comedy like My Best Friend’s Wedding — and everyone could applaud and say, 'We solved it! Representation at last!' It was a pop-cultural phenomenon that started to surface when Perkins, who’s 31, and other gay comedians of his generation were in middle school. But the problem with a moment is that it passes; a moment can become nothing more than an occasion for audiences to raise their eyebrows and notice something before the next moment, when a different breakthrough catches their attention. A fad is identified, a box is checked, a responsibility is fulfilled and the circus moves on. Gay comedy may finally be beyond that. Or at least over it. Nobody has to worry about being the first anymore — or the second or the third. Instead, emerging gay comedians can enter a large, complicated and thriving queercom universe. It’s not a moment, it’s not a trend and it’s not a tiny room with limited seating that’s getting too crowded for comfort. Rather, it’s an ecosphere that seems to be expanding with each new arrival."

    TOPICS: Julio Torres, Benito Skinner, Bowen Yang, Dewayne Perkins, Drew Tarver, Jaboukie Young-White, Jay Jurden, John Early, Larry Owens, Matt Rogers, Michael Henry, Ryan O'Connell , LGBTQ, Standup Comedy