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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 27 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 26
'Nights at the Neptune' brought Guy Branum for 'Out & In' Free Pride Comedy Night
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'Nights at the Neptune' brought Guy Branum for 'Out & In' Free Pride Comedy Night

by James Whitely - SGN A&E Writer

On Friday, June 20, the U-District's Neptune Theatre opened its doors for Seattle's second annual Free Pride Comedy Showcase. 'Out & In' featured nationally known comedian Guy Branum as headliner as well as several local LGBT comedians. The free show was the first of eight in Seattle Theatre Group's 'Nights at the Neptune' series, which will feature local up and coming artists presenting work concerning the structuring of identities.

The first performer was Nick Sahoyah, who also served as emcee for the show. Sahoyah opened with a joke about being called 'faggot' on the street, then soon after, coming across some high-school-aged girls whose 'ohmygod you're so cutes' felt more trivializing and affecting than the slur.

'I'm Gay if you couldn't tell from my Lesbian haircut,' said Sahoyah.

His routine lasted only about five minutes, but by the end of it, it was clear that STG's theme wasn't just a tagline. All who would take the stage attempted to pose questions to the audience as they tried to make them laugh.

Next up was Elicia Sanchez who often finds her ambiguous ethnic appearance a source for her material. Like Sahoyah, Sanchez has been performing in Seattle for about four years. Sanchez mused about her Native background and wondered if she should call herself a 'Rezbian.'

'Is that really racist or really hilarious?' Sanchez asked the audience.

Most of her 10 minute routine concerned growing up playing Dungeons and Dragons in Centralia, WA, smelling like 'Cool Ranch' and embarrassing her older sister with her pet cemetery. Thanks to now having health care, she was finally able to get her expired IUD taken out.

Next was Whitney Streed of Portland, OR. Streed's jokes often alluded to a personal desire to resist labels. This comedian expressed some Gender Queer ideas without using the term, is so addicted to SuicideGirls, they were put on 'SuicideGirl watch' and doesn't sleep with men or women, but rather 'strangers.'

Certainly, this comedian had some very funny moments, like when explaining naming their vagina 'the gender gap,' because it is a feminist issue and it is widening.' But all in all, the theoretical grounding in the routine comedy feels like a risky move, as the comedian seems to oversimplify some important and complex issues regarding sex and the powers that shape it. After identifying as polyamorous to the audience, Streed explained its etymology as 'Greek for many headaches,' but then followed with a passing comment that came off critical to those who prefer monogamy.

Abbey Drake opened by telling the audience of her unsuccessful efforts to turn her straight teenager Gay.

'I guess I've just got to accept him the way he is,' said Drake.

Her comedy embraced her Lesbian identity more than Sanchez' simply because she had less to comment on about her own ethnicity. Though I enjoyed Sanchez, too, I found this refreshing. Often it seems most of the jokes about Lesbians I hear come from Gay men. When Drake explained that she has trouble in girl bars distinguishing between someone who's 'checking her out' and someone who 'wants to kick her ass,' it wasn't clear where she was going with the joke - then she gave 'the look' and the audience loved it. Drake made me laugh as well as smile, because her routine stands as proof that those best capable of making fun of a culture are those that live it. It's clear why her popularity has been growing - keep an eye out for her!

Solomon Georgio, a former local who's already received some national attention, had many outrageous bits during his 15-minute routine. Some of his best jokes concern growing up both Gay and black in the '90s/'00s and talking about how pretty he is. However, like Streed, the integration of his politics into his routine err on the risky side. After identifying as atheist, many of his jokes addressed stereotypes of Gay people, while simultaneously stereotyping religion. Earlier this year, I was thrilled when Georgio gained media attention for responding to racist Tweets on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with short personal messages, followed by 'I love you.' After having seen him, however, I find I'm questioning the sincerity of the gestures.

GUY BRANUM
I'd never seen or heard of Guy Branum before, but I wasn't surprised to find he has close to 40,000 twitter followers, nor that he writes for Huffington Post. Branum is utterly ridiculous and drops references that will send Gays into a fit. Yet he's also able to engage serious issues unapologetically, simply because he's well read enough to do so. More than any of this though, he surprises left and right for 45 minutes, and his demeanor onstage is that of one sitting on a friend's couch (he's completely comfortable) even with the bottle of bubbly clasped in his hand that he's finished by the end of the show.

He tells the crowd about being picked up from the airport and seeing a kissing Lesbian couple, thinking, 'I love Seattle.' After turning onto the next block and seeing seven kissing Lesbian couples, he remembers only then, that 'everyone in Seattle just dresses like Lesbians.'

One of his best bits was a defense of reality television, specifically shows that prominently feature women arguing with one another, which he compared to sports like football.

'I want to watch people fight, too - I just want to understand why the people are fighting,' said Branum.

'Drama,' Branum understands, but different colored helmets just don't cut it for him. Branum jokes about himself, too, saying his nickname in college was 'the futon,' because he was 'good at making sex awkward and uncomfortable.'

'Me going to the gym is like Paula Abdul going into rehab,' said Branum, in one of his many jokes about his weight. 'It's a nice gesture.'

Now in its second year, 'Nights at the Neptune' is a series of eight free shows at the Neptune Theatre. Like last year, 'In & Out' begins the program, which will span through the summer.

'It's one of STG's ways of starting a conversation as a presenting organization,' Martin Sepulveda, director of 'Nights at the Neptune' told SGN. 'To support good art work and community initiatives around social justice and race issues.'

Nights at the Neptune is presented by Seattle Theatre Group with the help of Seattle's Department of Neighborhoods and BECU. All artists featured in the series are elected by a panel of local arts professionals and community advocates. The series will continue on July 17 with 'Choreographing Emotion,' featuring the University of Washington's Prime Dance Collective, and July 19 with 'Timeless,' which features an inter-generational team of local jazz, folk, blues and drum line musicians. For a complete schedule, visit www.stg.org/neptune/nights

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'Nights at the Neptune' brought Guy Branum for 'Out & In' Free Pride Comedy Night
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