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As a Gay Outsider, Using Comedy to Cope

As a Gay Outsider, Using Comedy to Cope


Chicago comedian Cody Melcher shares his story about using stand-up to deal with the pressures of wanting to fit in.

Is there any super power you could have that is not also monstrous? Clark Kent has super strength, Buffy came back from the dead, and Spiderman can shoot webbing from his wrists. But these are powers that monsters have -- a guy who can beat up anyone on Earth? A woman who drives stakes through hearts? A man who does whatever a spider can? It's great that they use their abilities for good, but these powers are as scary as they are super.

There's a line in Bride of Frankenstein (a movie directed by a gay man) in which one mad scientist toasts, "to a new world of gods and monsters!" They can be hard to tell apart, gods and monsters. Neither fits in among humans, no matter how hard they try. And both wield power that might sometimes extend beyond their control. If you're a god or a monster, you can look in the mirror and know that you're different, but there might be no telling which side of that divide you're on. And if you can't tell, how can anyone else?

The guest this week on The Sewers of Paris, a podcast about entertainment that's changed the lives of gay men, is Chicago comedian Cody Melcher. If Cody was a superhero, his powers would likely involve fancy bowties, obscure trivia, and an invincible debate team. As a kid, he was a delicate nerd, obsessed with classic literature while some of his classmates could barely read. He was an unathletic child who shunned the out-of-doors, and whose diversions of choice involved rhetoric and fastidiousness.

But as he became an adult, he grew taller.

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