A Fortune Revealed

BY Jeffrey Hartinger

August 10 2011 2:36 PM ET

FORTUNE 2 X390 (COURTESY) | ADVOCATE.COMAre you still friends with any of the comedians from the competition?
Definitely. I made some really good friends on the show, but it’s hard to spend time with each other because so many of them are touring comics now. Luckily, there’s Facebook and Twitter, so we can harass each other online. That’s usually how I spend my time online anyway — just stalking and harassing people. And buying vintage coffee tables.  

At what point in your life did you know you wanted to pursue a career in comedy?
I became interested in performing when I was in college. I had a lot of friends in the theater department, so I signed up. I’d always get “cast” as the stagehand, and by cast, I mean that I actually was the stagehand. After I graduated, I moved to Los Angeles to be a personal assistant and it was really hard to make friends, so I started taking improv classes at the Groundlings to meet people. It soon became a huge passion for me and I knew that I had to figure out how to make a living at it. Seven years later, I started making a living at it. It takes time, people!

Is there a particular member of the LGBT community that you look up to for guidance and support?
Luckily, there have been a lot of openly gay female comics, like Ellen, Rosie, and Wanda Sykes — just to name a few — that have come before me. I think their success has allowed audiences to be more accepting of gay comics. They show people that funny is funny, no matter what one’s sexual orientation. However, two of my biggest mentors have been stand-up comedian Erin Foley and Last Comic Standing producer Page Hurwitz. I’m also constantly calling former Ellen head writer Karen Kilgariff, who is not gay, but very gay-friendly. They are all so incredibly talented and have been in this business for a while, so I trust their opinion more than anyone’s. I’m sure they’ve all wanted to block my number at some point!

Over the past few years, it seems as if the LGBT movement is gaining significant momentum. Would you consider this the civil rights movement of the current generation?
Any time there is a group of people who are not allowed the same rights as everyone else, it is certainly a civil rights issue. There are millions of gay people out there who are fighting for equal rights, so it is big enough to be considered a movement ... moving away from what is and heading toward what should be. It’s the only civil rights movement that I’ve personally been a part of in my lifetime. Many would argue that it’s nothing like the civil rights movement of the 1960s, but in my opinion, not being able to marry the one you love is not much different than having to sit at the back of the bus. We all just want to be in the same section.   

It seems as if the majority of youth are liberal and accepting to the gay community, but typically the older generation appears to be the ones making change — for better or worse. Do you have any words of advice to those youth who are seeking positive change?
Today’s youth are lucky that we as a society are becoming more and more accepting of people’s differences. However, being young and gay is not easy, because kids can be really cruel. I mean, I had a head of hair that was shaped like a triangle in high school and I barely made it through, so I can only imagine what it’s like being openly gay. My only advice to the youth is to be nice to each other, and if you are gay, then be proud of who you are and know that there are millions of people just like you. I’d also hope that they would try and be a positive representation for gays everywhere. While I’m all about naked pride parades — seriously, there is nothing better than naked parades — there is so much more that we can do to be heard and seen in our communities. 












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