Logo's The Big Gay Sketch Show aims to tickle queer funny bones.
Say BGSS in your head several times. Now try to imagine it as part of the national lexicon akin to say, SNL. Are you feeling it? Because if the creators of the new Logo series The Big Gay Sketch Show have their way, that acronym will be on the tip of your tongue for years to come.
The series, which kicks off a six-episode run Tuesday 24, follows a format not unlike SNL and MADtv, delivering a swift mix of social-political satire, slapstick and parody rolled up into a single half hour. But unlike those two staples of silliness, this one is aimed at gay audiences.
“Here’s the deal,” says director Amanda Bearse. “We didn’t pander because we didn’t have to pander to anyone outside our community.”
And the show doesn’t. For example, in one continuously running gag, cast members pontificate about the defining moment in which they realized their sexual orientation, while another sketch imagines the chaos of finding a bear (that is, a member of the gay subculture) running loose in a suburban backyard. We’re not exactly talking straight stuff here.
Then again, we’re also not talking about a bunch of stuffy straights. The big gay talent here speaks for itself. Out actor-director Bearse flexed her comedy chops as Marcy Rhoades D’Arcy, the thorn in Al Bundy’s side in Married…With Children before directing six seasons of MADtv. Joining her from that show is Scott King, who spent three years as head writer and later as writer-producer. Rosie O’Donnell, the mother of all out performers, is executive producer.
There are also some big gay cast members. Six out of the eight performers are out. The exceptions being singer, dancer and model Erica Ash and L.A.’s Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre regular Nicol Paone. Most notable among the queer players is NYC nightlife impresario and comedy podcaster Jonny McGovern (a.k.a. the Gay Pimp). The rest of the ensemble is a shiny diamond of diversity, including black ensemble member Dion Flynn, the butch Julie Goldman, fey gay Steven Guarino, rotund funnyman Michael Serrato and Kate McKinnon. Together, Bearse hopes the group will accurately reflect GLBT viewers.
“Our community is incredibly diverse,” she says. “That’s what we hope to bring forth in the sketches and the characters and the material in the Big Gay Sketch Show. A real cross-section of humanity that makes up the gay community.”
That’s not to say everything on board this big gay boat is, well, Rosie. Some of the jokes are pretty broad at times, and in this post–Will & Grace world, audiences aren’t going to fall for gay humor simply because it’s gay. It needs to be nuanced . The parody of Project Runway fell flat, for example, and while Serrato and company do a fine job imitating the cast of Facts of Life, the whole Blair/Jo sexual tension bit was so ten years ago.
That said, this train seems to gain momentum the further out of the station it gets, and there was marked improvement between the first and second episodes. Bearse, of course, hopes for a hit.
“Not every sketch is going to appeal to every viewer,” she admits. “No way. There were a lot of sketches I did for MADtv where I was like, Okay, does somebody think this is funny?” But, she says, “At some point during that 30-minute slot, you’re going to laugh.”
And you probably will. Although, not unlike SNL and MADtv, you may find yourself skipping the show altogether and going straight for the YouTube highlights. Not that that’s a bad thing. If BGSS can produce anything as funny as SNL’s “Dick in a Box,” we’ll call ourselves devoted fans. Now if only it can score a cameo appearance from Justin Timberlake.
The Big Gay Sketch Show airs Tuesday 24 at 9pm on Logo.