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COMEDY : He's Proud to Be Gay and That's No Joke : Jason Stuart came out on 'Geraldo.' His stand-up routine, he says, is outrageous, funny and the truth.

March 10, 1994|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Is honesty the best policy? It depends. George Washington, apparently, suffered no ill effects from his cherry tree episode. Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker get along OK, even though they adamantly refuse to reveal their secret identities of Batman and Spiderman to everyone except 40 billion comic book readers.

Comedian Jason Stuart came out about being gay last year, and so far his career has suffered no ill effects. Well, that's if you don't count those pickets in Kansas City, but more on them later.

Stuart, who will bring his routine to Revival in Santa Barbara, had been on the stand-up circuit for a decade when he decided to make his private life public on the syndicated show "Geraldo" last June.

Also an actor, Stuart has appeared on all 10,000 of those cable stand-up comedy shows and has numerous TV credits, which include "Murder, She Wrote" and the "John Larroquette Show." He also has worked on a number of feature films, including "Kindergarten Cop" with Ahhh-nold.

His stand-up routine, which has been compared to that of the late Paul Lynde, has led to his often being cast in stereotypical gay roles. The comedian wants the opportunity to compete for straight roles as well.

In a phoner from his Los Angeles home, Stuart discussed the recent changes in his career.

*

You're on the "Coming Out" tour. Why did you come out?

I just didn't want to live a lie anymore. There's a lot of gay and lesbian kids out there with no one to turn to. When I was young, I always felt so alone. It's been a very positive experience, and now everything is so much more fun.

*

Tell me a Geraldo story.

He was just so gracious, incredibly sexy and such a dear.

*

You speak of narrow-mindedness in the film industry. There are a lot of gay people in Hollywood, so who are you talking about, the sponsors?

I think it's a lot of people, but mostly the people in power. Are you gay?

*

No.

Who do you think is sexy?

*

Well, my girlfriend because she'll kill me, but on TV, probably Christina Applegate.

OK, but if you found out she was gay, wouldn't you still love her? Wouldn't you still think she's sexy? I've fantasized about heterosexual people all my life, but I'm not mad at all you guys. Most who know don't care. Those who don't know any gay people, care.

*

Do you foresee a time when a person's sexual orientation is irrelevant?

Well, I don't see it that close. But right now, I see it as a means to call attention to yourself. It was a positive step for me.

*

David Geffen came out, but he's a zillionaire, so he's basically immune to any negative feedback. What was the worst-case scenario?

I couldn't get any work and I wouldn't have a career. Actually, I've gotten more work, stand-up wise, but for acting, it's the same.

*

What is the importance of positive role models for other gays?

It gives you a sense of who you are. As a kid, all I knew was that I was a bad person, and I didn't even know why. I was just supposed to shut up about it. I still wrestle with it in my head and try to kick out the demons. The demons are very tiny now, but when you encounter rejection every day, it's difficult.

*

You were picketed in Kansas City?

Oh, my God. There was this guy--I won't even say his name--but he had this very small group of right-wing fundamentalist Christians. I don't want to diss Christians at all, but this group decided they didn't want me to have my job. If you don't want to see me, you don't have to go to the show. Anyway, some pickets who supported me came to picket the pickets, and naturally the show sold out. They clapped for five minutes before I even said a word and gave me a standing ovation at the end of the show. I think the overall feeling in Kansas City was one of embarrassment. No one wants to be prejudicial anymore.

*

What's the basic difference between stand-up comedy and acting?

Limitations. In acting, they want to limit me. There's very few parts they'll let me play. I'm always wrong for everything. As an actor, I want to be able to play any part, straight or gay.

*

What's the secret to survival on the road as a stand-up comedian?

Lots of books. Exercise program. Good friends you can call on. Do as much PR as possible, and be as nice as you can be to everybody.

*

Describe your stand-up act.

Outrageous, funny and the truth.

*

Who goes?

I have a very eclectic group from gays to old Jews to black women and little Barbies. I'm very hetero-friendly. And I'm single.

*

Who do you think is funny?

Who makes me laugh? Bette Midler always makes me laugh. Lily Tomlin. Sandra Bernhard. Sheila Kay. For men, let's see. Louie Anderson. Richard Lewis and Bruce Valanch, who used to write for Bette Midler.

*

Your bio says you've just recorded a single, "I'm Out." So do you rock?

It's techno-pop, sort of like the Pet Shop Boys. I'll probably sell them by mail order in a gay publication or perhaps at my gigs. I'm also working on a comedy album, and it'll probably be on there as well.

*

What's next for Jason Stuart?

I would like to work in film with Woody Allen, Spike Lee, Barbra Streisand and Martin Scorsese. I'd like to work with some really famous people and fulfill my dreams.

Details

* WHAT: Comedian Jason Stuart.

* WHEN: Saturday night, 8 p.m.

* WHERE: Revival, 18 E. Ortega St., Santa Barbara.

* HOW MUCH: Free.

* FYI: 730-7383

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