It’s now routine for comedians to be self-deprecating, but when it comes to gay YouTube star Michael Henry, everyone is in on the joke. Henry quickly became a darling in the gay blogosphere in 2015 and today, his ubiquitous self-deprecating videos have been shared millions of times. Henry’s unique method of expressing the gay experience involves a sharp wit, dry delivery, and brutal honesty.
One of his first videos, “Do You Play Gay Chicken?” solidified his place in the gay comedy circuit, racking up two million views in just a few short days. Henry’s best writing deals with the invisible tension in common situations: being average-looking in a pool of male supermodels, that moment you realize your friend is hotter than you, and the underpinning of competition when you and a coworker are both vying for the same hot guy in the office.
The Advocate: What inspires your comedy?
Henry: Anything that I feel uncomfortable about — and it’s usually interactions and behavior with other gay men. I’ve always felt a level of awkwardness when it came to making gay friends and fitting into the gay community. I actually started making my gay videos as a way to make more gay friends. I try to [transform] what makes me uncomfortable into something that’s honest and funny and relatable.
When did you know you were funny?
Probably when I was around 12. All the boys’s voices were changing and getting deeper and mine kind of began sounding like a middle-aged woman. I had to use comedy as a defense mechanism. I used to watch The Golden Girls on the Lifetime channel every day after school and Bea Arthur’s character Dorothy was my spirit animal. She got ganged up on a lot for her appearance and the way she sounded. But in the end, she was always the victor because of her sharp comedic jokes and comebacks.
What has been the audience response?
Overwhelmingly positive. My content really strikes a nerve with a lot of men who feel out of place in their own community. I am not a muscled Instagram guy, I don’t look like a porn star, and I am not “masc.” It is 100 percent amazing to be those things and it’s also 100 percent amazing to not be those things. I feel like the gay community still struggles to equally praise all types of men — especially all types of men physically.
I make videos because I need to give myself a voice. I need to give people who feel and look and behave the same way that I do a voice, too. And I am happy that I have my voice, the ideas, and the drive to create content that can make people feel understood.