Stand-up comedy is a risky business and a skill in the craft takes many years of dedication which, in no way, guarantees a comedian will enjoy the successful fruits of hard labor. In a world filled with uncertainties, playing to public opinion stand-up comics very often find themselves amidst scant hypercritical audiences yet they continue the pursuit for acknowledge for the career is (many times) a therapeutic venture as much as it is an entertainment endeavor.
Jordan Pease, an enthusiastic but incredibly down-to-Earth young man, is a personality of caliber many years his elder. In a recent interview, I had the privilege to chat with this interesting (and extremely insightful) comic who allowed me to gain perspective of his world in comedy and the roots of his book, Accidentally Okay.
According to his biography, Pease felt the draw toward comedy early as a way to deal with the pain and disappointment of everyday life, death of a parent, and discrimination. These can be paramount when you are an Italian-American homosexual male but his stark embracement of his identity is what makes this comic so endearing. In discussing his “coming out” to his traditional grandparents, he commented on the remark they insisted he marry an “Italian man” which struck a funny cord in me since I understand the seriousness of Italians and their devout Catholicism.
This open support from family and friends is what drives Pease to be himself along with the transitional journey in Europe where he bridged boy to man finding a path he now pursues. Although there are many wonderful gay comedians, he states most of them gravitate to exclusive all-gay shows which include “one straight host, five gay guys, and a lesbian.” The outrageous style of Chelsea Handler makes her one of Jordan Pease’s role models; in fact, her success in establishing herself through comedic books about her life is one reason Pease chose to write about his adventures in Verona, Italy as well as growing up in Don’t Let Me Go. When talking about some of the escapades in Italy, Jordan revealed the fact he was beat up by gypsies; an experience he has not faced doing his stand-up in the United States, at least not that he made reference to!
Although Pease is gay, his audiences (who are almost always straight folks from urban and rural areas alike) do not immediately associate this fact to him as a person. As he states it “Comedy is colorblind [and apparently not homophobic], and if you can make anyone laugh, you’re going to get more work.” You would not normally expect someone like Jordan Pease to be more at ease performing for those more right than left but that is the way of this remarkable young man…never shying away from a challenge nor his identity. He is proud to be gay, proud to be an American, and proud of the advancements this country has made toward the equalization of gay rights especially in the arena of marriage. He does not find it at all intimidating to stand up in front of conservative crowds, looking at the audiences as potential friends, laughing with them from the stage at the exposure of himself for the feeling behind all of his shows is humor is the best medicine and if you cannot laugh at yourself, how do you expect others to!
Jordan Pease will be appearing at the Laugh Factory, Thursday, October 24, 2013 with several other comedians for Wicked All-Star Comedy in Hollywood. If you are looking for a reason to laugh, check it out and Jordan Pease…Please stand-up in Toledo!
Image and supporting source material courtesy of De Waal & Associates