Jonny McGovern: Gay Pimp of All Media

The queer comedian talks about The Big Gay Sketch Show, getting famous from music videos in the dark days before YouTube, and his popular podcast Gay Pimpin' With Jonny McGovern, highlighted on a new best-of CD

BY Alonso Duralde

March 09 2009 11:00 PM ET

JONNY McGovern 02 x390 (publicity) | ADVOCATE.COM

How time-consuming is the podcast? It seems like you've got
so many irons in the comedy fire.

We have it down to pretty much a science. At first was full
days of working on it; we'd record five or six hours one
day and then spend the whole next day editing. But now we have
it down to a science; it's pretty tight. I'm able to do all
my other faggoty endeavors at the same time, but this is my
favorite one. It also provokes the most passionate fans -- the
kids who listen to the podcast are really devoted; they get
really into it and get into the characters.

A lot of us first got to know you from the Gay Pimp videos,
but take me back before that. What's your performing
background?

Well, you know, I went to acting school; I went to Boston
University School for the Arts and then came to New York. But I
sort of got bored when I originally moved here, waiting for
someone to cast me in things. I saw all these other people
performing their own material, and thought,
I can do that,

so I started performing these one-man shows all around New
York. And eventually, to promote those shows, I went to
open-mike nights at all these Lower East Side kind of
alternative comedy rooms. And one of those shows that I started
doing with a group of people out of those open-mike nights,
called Grindhouse-a-Go-Go, everybody would get together and we
would write a loose script and just throw together these
musicals. And one of those shows was called
The Wrong Fag to Fuck With: The Gay Pimp vs. Eminem,

and that's where the whole Gay Pimp thing started. That's where
the "Soccer Practice" song came out of. And then I
started performing as the Gay Pimp character at different
nightclubs in New York.

When you started doing this, there was no Logo ...

There wasn't even YouTube! [
Laughs

] I feel like, man, this would have been a lot easier if my
video had been passed around on YouTube. They were playing it
in video bars! A phenomenon I didn't even know existed!
Today, it would have been a lot easier to get that video seen
and a lot easier to get revenue streams off of it. I mean, I
remember sending people DVDs at the post office, myself!

Queer comedy seems like it was ghettoized for a long time,
but now it seems to be reaching a wider audience. In the years
that you've been doing it, do you sense a shift in who your
fans are and who's responding to this material?

There's always been a group of people who liked what I did, but
"Soccer Practice" kinda hit across the board. The
people that I reached on that level -- straight girls, straight
nerds, whoever -- they all would come along with me. I think
more people understand what I'm talking about now, due to
the Tyra-ization of gay culture. Or
RuPaul's Drag Race.

A lot of references to runway battles and drag things that gay
people have known about from their club life are certainly
becoming more mainstream and easier for people to understand.
All our gay subculture secrets are now being fully used on
mainstream TV shows, but that's good so people can understand
you. But I always think,
Tyra, you stole my joke!

Tags: television

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