Review: Laughing with the gays
Alex Dunkin takes a look at a few of the gay and lesbian comedians at Adelaide Fringe 2012
Being a gay comedian no longer has the controversial edge that will make a comedian stand out from their peers and this is making way for the talented comedians, who just happen to be gay, to succeed.
For this year’s Adelaide Fringe DeAnne Smith, Stephen K Amos, Tom Ballard and Hannah Gadsby all proved to perform popular shows without restricting themselves solely to the LGBT audience. Performing for mainstream audiences, however, did not completely remove the mention of LGBT issues during their shows.
For Ballard in his show Doing Stuff and Gadsby in Hannah wants a wife there was a strong political edge to their performances. Of course the ruckus within the Australian Labor Party made for perfect material for Ballard but it didn’t take away the extra time spent discussing same-sex marriage and gay rights.
The concepts of marriage also featured heavily with Gadsby who simply wants the choice to be able to have a wife. This led to regular references to her sexuality and some of the sexualities that were hidden from public view a few hundred years ago.
International performers Smith and Amos did not throw their hats into the Australian political ring; rather they seemed to focus on having fun with the crowd without necessarily including a moral undertone or message the audience could go home with.
There were constant mentions of Smith’s sexuality for the second half of her show Livin’ the sweet life. This was due to Smith getting personal with the crowd and sharing some of her sexual encounters as well as some of the ‘sweet life’ which was in the form of chocolates.
Of the four performers Amos appeared to have the least amount of focus on his sexuality in the show and also he managed to pack out the largest venue. Those two things might not necessarily be related. The larger crowds could be associated with Amos’ strong performances and increasing television presence.
Amos concentrated mostly on making the crowd laugh in Laughter is my agenda and any hints to the fact that he is gay were snuck in throughout the performance. At times it was hard to differentiate between the lines purely for laughter and the truth, yet either way it was well received by the audience.
Whether or not the performer is same-sex attracted doesn’t change the fact that comedians, who are talented, adapt to their audience and can present work that is simply funny, and are being successful in the competitive market of comedy.