Guy Branum: Chelsea Guy
BY Brandon Voss
November 27 2009 1:45 PM ET
Is Chelsea a worthy gay icon?
We have a long tradition of female comedians like Kathy Griffin and Margaret Cho who cater to us and emphasize how much they love their gays. Chelsea also loves and values us, but she calls us on our shit. She’s not just accepting at face value that everything that’s gay is wonderful. If we don’t want people to irrationally hate us, we need to let go of the idea of people irrationally loving us. Yes, it’s lovely having a lovely platonic woman friend who thinks you’re the best thing on the planet just because you’re gay, but she needs to love you for you.
You joined the Chelsea Lately writing team in late 2007, after the show had been on for several months. Do you think you were hired in part because the show needed a stronger gay voice?
They’ve actually said to me that one of the primary reasons I got hired was because they thought I’d get along well with Heather McDonald and be a good playmate for her. She and I have to share an office and write jokes together.
Is it generally safe to assume that you’re the one pitching gay topics for roundtable discussion?
Each of the writers has certain websites and magazines that we’re responsible for keeping up with. My beat does include Out, The Advocate, and sites like Queerty and Towleroad, but the gay agenda is part of Chelsea’s core topic focus.
Chelsea introduces you as “staff homosexual.” Are you really the only gay person working on the show?
No, I’m not. Chelsea’s wardrobe stylist is a lesbian, our office manager is gay, and one of the lighting guys is gay, so there’s other representation. When I was going to be on the show for the first time, Chelsea was like, “I want people to understand that he works here and that he’s gay when I introduce him.” So I suggested “staff homosexual.”
That title just sounds so rife with responsibility.
Well, on Unscrewed I had a character called “The Ambassador of Gay.” When you frequently have to deal with people coming to you with questions about homosexuality, you do sometimes feel responsible for speaking for homosexuality at large. Straight comedians constantly come to me and ask, “Hey, is this offensive?” And the answer is almost always yes.
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