A gay old time 

To poor souls who think Jay Leno's nightly monologue is the state of the art, it may come as a bit of a shock to find there's more to "gay comedy" than Brokeback Mountain jokes. Though there have long been gay comedians on the scene, for decades they were confined by an informal closet, an understanding that made homosexuality a tacit gag if not an explicit punch line.

Though performers like the late, great center Hollywood Square Paul Lynde once made a living out of winking innuendo, these days comedians can be as out and proud as they want to be. High-profile gay comics are everywhere at the moment, with styles as wide-ranging as the cozy, all-purpose humor of Ellen Degeneres to the excruciatingly mincing antics of TV pest Ant. More and more, the stand-up comedy ranks are reflecting everyday society, in all its funky, bawdy and glorious multiplicity. Celebrating that fact, and proving that funny knows no borders, is the Michigan Lesbian and Gay Comedy Fest.

On the bill for 2006 is a collection of national touring acts who may not yet be household names, but are working hard change that.

One of the more impressive résumés belongs to Rene Hicks, who has made dozens of appearances on such Comedy Central series as Premium Blend, Tough Crowd, The Daily Show, World Comedy Tour and her own half-hour special on the network.

Also appearing is Rhode Island native Poppy Champlin, who's been a stage star since her early '80s stint with Chicago's Second City. On the men's side of the aisle is Orlando's Dewey Chaffee, a 13-year vet who proved that, yes, you can be gay and work for Disney. After serving duty at the Mouse house, Chafee began working the lucrative corporate and cruise ship circuit, as a stand-up comedian and impressionist. His primary claim to fame is as a Jim Carrey impersonator, specializing in Ace Ventura, stoking an old comedy fire long after Carrey himself quit doing impressions and goofy voices and began fancying himself a serious actor. Rounding out the night of laughs are fellow chuckleheads Dana Goldberg and Ronn Vigh.

 

Saturday, March 11, at Ford Community and Performing Arts Center, 15801 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-943-2354.

Corey Hall is a freelance writer. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com

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