The Redhead Gay

Kevin Allison, the lone gay of the '90s sketch group The State , dishes on the group's formation, their fallout with Les Moonves, and bouncing back after hitting bottom.




You're teaching now? Where? I kind of teach all over the place, at NYU and at a place called the People's Improv Theater in New York -- the PIT, it's called for short. And at an online thing called -- it's actually a Canadian company. I'm also creating this live storytelling show here in New York called RISK! The idea is, each week, there's a theme like "sex," "family," "god," that sort of thing. And every storyteller who comes up -- they're actors, writers, comedians -- are asked to do something they've never done before, something that's not a part of their performing arsenal, and that they're a little uncomfortable doing. It will also be a podcast. It will use segments from the live show, but also like This American Life it will have produced radio segments of stories as well. So the live show will start in August, and the podcast will start in September.

How did you first get involved with The State ? Yeah, you know it's funny because I was a freshman at NYU when I saw this group that had just started there called "The New Group." There had already been a comedy group at the Tisch School of the Arts, and Todd Holoubek decided, "Hey, why don't we come up with a new group?" So he auditioned people, and I think it was 16 people at first. But people started dropping out, and it dwindled down. I saw the group's first show. And I thought, Oh my God. I'm really going to do all I can to get into that group. The energy of that group's very first show was just overwhelming. And so I found out everyone's name, found out what classes they were taking, and deliberately signed up to be in the same classes so I could get to know people. And then what happened was, I naturally started to get to know people. Then we would end up drinking together, usually on Wednesday nights at a place called the Dugout. I considered drinking together as my audition time for the group, so I would take off all my clothes and run around singing whaling songs -- just acting like a total lunatic. I can remember Janeane [Garofalo] asked me when I told her this story, "Didn't you ever think of, like, preparing a monologue? Or sending someone a script?"

Well, you thought that was the way in? Yeah. In fact it was. Michael Black, you know, approached me in my junior year -- I think it took two years of acting like a lunatic before they said, "You know what? You're hysterical. Come be in the group."