Sure, there are funny gays in various entertainment fields, such as shoe design and Condé Nast magazines, but let us think of gays in actual comedy. Okay, so there’s Ellen. That guy ANT. Neil Patrick Harris. And… hmm.
Oh right. Scott Thompson. And Graham Chapman, of Monty Python. These two might prove a comedy “rule” that gays are often funny when in groups of straight people. Or when they are English: Stephen K. Amos, Simon Amstell, Matt Lucas, Julian Clary, Paul O’Grady. And Kenny Everett and Frankie Howerd and Kenneth Williams, RIP! Or when they are of an English province: Trey Anthony, say, from Canada. And Tommy Sexton. And I guess Trevor Boris counts! Then there’s… oh, Dave Rubin!
There’s a pretty equal number of ladies, of course. Don’t ever confuse Judy Gold and Julie Goldman. (Jews! I know!) Also don’t confuse Wanda Sykes, Elvira Kurt and René Hicks. That’s racist. (I’m kidding, it’s not. See what I did there?) Margaret Cho still counts. Also I will namedrop Alec Mapa in the interests of diversity!
Of the greats, you have Rip Taylor and Lily Tomlin. And more, hmm… I guess Eddie Murphy, if you count those who may prefer our sexual partners to be in that wonderful middle ground between gender norms. And Andy Dick counts. (There is such a thing as bisexuality!)
But now. Think of the least funny people you know: Susan Sontag, Bret Easton Ellis and Jeffrey Dahmer. All gay. All devoutly unhumorous. Why aren’t gay people funny?
They’re not funny from birth. Like, genetically. (I think that was the plot of Gattaca.)
Their parents raised them to not be funny.
And that’s it.
Well, there’s one possibility we can’t discount. Let’s call it the Tina Fey thesis.
The Tina Fey Thesis
So you know how ladies are treated kind of as a sidebar in comedy? Or as a flavor? (Like the way the blacks are treated in the visual arts world. Like, “Oh look, Mark Bradford can hold a paintbrush!” Not like, “Oh look at this awesome painting,” period, the end. Yeah, sorry, pet peeve.) Well, the ladies are taking up “all” the space. (By “all” I mean the 22% remaining space not taken by straight men.) They are the flavor. Who needs gay flavor when you have lady flavor?
Plus most of the straight men in comedy want to have sex with the ladies, though some of them aren’t so picky. As you know!
Meanwhile, straight guys think the lady-gay pact is out to get them. Why did Nick Di Paolo finally just get his first one-hour Showtime special? “Because the people in the industry are dumb fucks. They’re too busy looking for, you know, for the next funny chick or funny gay guy. I’m just another white guy in the mix.”
Oh, that’s why. (Wait, no it is not. It’s actually because Tim Allen was finally too busy and/or dead.) But I do believe that he believes this.
But the gays also did this to themselves.
So right: women in comedy were choosing between being in a boy’s club or doing comedy about being a lady, and sometimes doing both. The gays had less of an option of being in a boy’s club, so quite frequently they did comedy about being gay, so as to build an audience, but also, regarding which, zzz. Ellen’s sort of an exception, but not totally: it was all subtext. (The shoulder pads mostly.) Gay comics hit a ceiling because, um, even gay-topic comedy gets boring to (fickle) gays soon. And it certainly doesn’t interest straight people.
Mmm, message comedy. God bless! So with the gays in this box—which was a profitable box for some of them!—there was nowhere to integrate. They weren’t going to shame their way into writer’s rooms for sitcoms, weren’t going to do that well in TV in general. (They do so-so, to be fair. I mean, “Will and Grace” exec producer Max Mutchnick is back with “Shit My Dad Says”! That’s… grreaat. Enjoy.)
So now women are busily on a militant task force to take over comedy, while they are sucking all the gay air out of the room inadvertently. (We should all demand more pieces of a smaller pie, not a bigger pie!) It’s very, very violent, this struggle. They started with equal space on Chelsea Handler’s show (“lucky them”) and they will next launch an assault on, I dunno, Craig Ferguson or something.
But eventually the women will bring some gays with them. Because all women are equally nurturing and fair-minded. That will be in the year 2035. Then we will know the truth about whether gays can actually make with the funny.