Jason Dudey: A Name That Gets Laughs

By Advocate Contributors

Originally published on Advocate.com October 26 2011 4:00 AM ET

Jason Dudey, a comedian based in Los Angeles, has appeared
on Logo’s Wisecrack and can be seen at
the Boston Comedy Festival from November 5 to 13. He is on tour with comic
legend, Kathleen Madigan. Dudey talks to The Advocate about turning into his mother, producing his own
show, and why he can’t tell dirty jokes on stage.

The Advocate:
You’ve worked with some big names in LBGT comedy – Judy Gold, Sandra Bernhard,
Suzanne Westenhoefer. What have you learned so far?

Jason Dudey: I think Suzanne is a big
example: just be yourself. Sandra Berhard, when I opened for her, she never mentioned
sexuality at all. It was great because no one cares. She just did her comedy
and it was brilliant. Funny is funny. It’s not gay-funny or straight-funny.
Funny is funny.

Who would win in a bare-knuckled fight?

I think Suzanne Westenhoefer could take someone down.

Even against Sandra?

Sandra Bernhard is in a league of her own.
She would be in a ring by herself. When I opened for her, we first met in the
green room. I was so nervous that I didn’t say much.  She went on stage and her first joke was, “I don’t know who
the fuck that Jason Dudey is but I don’t like him. He’s the first fag I ever
met that wasn’t impressed to meet me.” And it wasn’t that I wasn’t impressed. I
was so nervous. I could not do small talk. I was sitting there like, “Oh my
God, I’m sitting next to Sandra Bernhard.” It didn’t occur to me that maybe I
should say, “Hello, my name is Jason.” I forgot. It was all in good fun, but I
can’t believe I forgot to say hello.

Your set is more about your personal  experiences than your sexuality.

I do personal, observational, and lots of
family stuff but I couldn’t do anything sexual onstage. I would be mortified. I
have one joke that has a slightly dirty punch line and I have to be in the mood
to do it. Sometimes I’m too shy and bail on the joke. I think if my mother sees
it, she would be mortified. I can’t do it. I’m by no means a prude, I just can’t
talk dirty on stage. Get me alone and it’s another story.

Speaking of your family, you said that coming out to your
family was “uneventful.” Did that disappoint the drama queen inside you?


I would’ve liked a little something. My mother cried and that was helpful. Come
to find out later on that she didn’t cry because I was gay. She cried because
of the guy I was with. She was totally right. He made me cry, too. My dad, I
told him and he was like, “pass the salt.” I lived in New York and went to
visit him in his office. I sat down with him and told him and he was like, “OK.”
Whoa whoa, wait a minute Dad. All of those dreams you had of me having a wife,
kids, a station wagon, the white picket fence in suburban America. None of that
is happening. He said, “Oh I didn’t have any dreams for you.”  

You talk about your parents a lot onstage. They’ve been
together for a long time. Do you want to get married?


I love it when I say that my parents have been married for 47 years and people
always clap. I didn’t say they were happy. They’ve just been together a long
time. I used to lie in junior high because all of my friends’ parents were
divorced so they all had second homes. So I would lie and say, “I’m going to my
father’s house this weekend.” But it was the same house. I was just trying to
fit in. I just didn’t have any friends whose parents were still together. Now,
it’s so awesome. They’re buddies. They have jokes that go back over 15 years.
It’s cool to see now. But growing up, I was like, why are they still
together? They can both do better.  I want two bedrooms.
 

Having seen them together, is it something you want for
yourself?


I have a partner that I’ve been with a year-and-half and yeah, I would love to
be with Brian 20 years down the road because it’s easy to start something
fresh. That’s what I respect about my parents. They’ve never thrown in the
towel even when things got hard. I think, people love the drama of the break up.  And who doesn’t love the newness of
dating? That shit is fun. But to stay no matter what — that’s what I got from
my parents. It wasn’t a perfect marriage, but now they get to reap the
benefits. I totally hope that happens to me. This is the first time in my life
that I’ve been with a partner where I don’t have days where I think, I’m
gonna throw in the towel
. I don’t know what the future holds, but
when we have a disagreement, we never say, “let’s break up.”  It’s always like, “we should work this
shit out.”  Plus, I am so annoying
that I don’t know if there is another one out there.

Would you make him take your last name?

I can’t take someone else’s last name. I make a living off the name Dudey. His
name is McConnell. That’s not funny.

JASON DUDEY HEADSHOT 390x 2 (COURTESY) ADVOCATE.COM

Are you turning into your parents as you get older?

My father has an iPad and Brian has one. But my mother and I use it for Face Time.
Brian cannot watch us because my mother and I are in the exact same position on
the couch with the iPad propped up on the coffee table, and we will stay on for
two hours together watching bad TV and talking. I am turning into my mother.

So he knows what his future looks like in 20 years.

He said to me the other day, “Does your mother just scream your father’s name
every three seconds for no reason?” Yes. Get used to it. My mother, every
couple of minutes yells, “Don!” and she doesn’t really need
anything. She just likes to know where he is. I’m the same way. If Brian is out
of the room for more than five minutes, I do the same thing. We live in an
apartment. It’s not that hard to figure out where he is. I get nervous. Where
did he go?! Where’d he go?!
 

Let’s talk about the Come Out Laughing Tour, a show that
you produce.


The show is so important to me. My friend, Erin Foley, has a show called Gays R
Us at the Hollywood Improv. It’s a great show. She wanted to start another show,
and it’s a lot of work. So she said, “Jason, do you want to start the show and
I can help you?” She was so helpful getting it started because I didn’t know
what to do. I didn’t know how to find a community. Well now it’s been going on
every last Wednesday of the month at the Long Beach Laugh Factory for the last
two years and it is so much fun. Then, I  started taking it on the road and took Erin with me. We’ve done
it in D.C., North Carolina, Kansas, and Dallas. What I want to do with it is
take it to smaller cities that don’t have as much gay entertainment. We did a
show in Wichita, Kansas and this woman and her partner drove over two hours and
they were in tears at the end of the show because they had never seen gay
people on stage. They had been together for like 30 years and weren’t out to
their families. That’s what I want to do. We get spoiled in New York, L.A., and
D.C. Everyone is gay. It’s no big deal. But in these smaller cities, it is huge
to see openly gay people walk up on stage and grab that mic. It’s so rewarding.
It’s a labor of love.

Come Out Laughing showcases both gay and straight comics. It isn’t just for gay
people.. It bridges the gap between gay and straight audiences.


Isn’t our goal as gay people to be accepted by everyone? If I’m doing a gay-friendly
show, how can I exclude people if the one thing I’m fighting for is to not be
excluded anymore?

That’s a great point.

I bill the show as “Some gay. Some straight. All hilarious.” The Long Beach
Laugh Factory has been so supportive. We have a lot of regulars that aren’t
gay. They just know it’s a good show and a fun night out. Email me at [email protected]
if you want a show in your city.  

What are you up to now both personally and
professionally?


I am on tour with Kathleen Madigan, which, could I be any luckier? The woman is
so funny and so nice on and off stage. Her audience is middle-American, beer
drinking, straight people, and I love that she took me. I was nervous to do gay
material, and she encouraged me to be myself. It means a lot that a comedian in
mainstream America took the gay guy out as her opener. She talks about stuff
that we all relate to. That’s what I want my jokes to be about, too. She’s
doing theaters now instead of clubs. It’s nice to see someone get rewarded for
all of her hard work. I’m so happy for her. I also just recorded a CD. It’s
called Major Dudey. It’ll be out in a month!
Just in time for the holidays, hint hint.

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