Gay theme this week at The Improv in Harveys
Ryan Summerlin January 22, 2007
With this week being the third annual Gay and Lesbian Ski Week here at South Shore, what better way to be a part of the program than having some gay (i.e. “happy”) comedians at The Improv?
In the past I wanted to be a team player, so the first year I dyed my hair red, then blue last year. I think that I’ll probably go green this time out to show my team spirit, if lack of total commitment. In his second time here in six years, Bob Smith headlines at Harveys for six days through Sunday. Bob has the distinction of being the first openly gay comedian to appear on “The Tonight Show” and also the first to have his own HBO Special, “The Bob Smith Comedy Half-Hour.”
He’s also appeared on the first national television showcase for gay and lesbian performers, Comedy Central’s “Out There” (for which he was also head writer). Other TV appearances included Bill Maher’s “Politically Incorrect,” “Entertainment Tonight” and one of my favorites, the late Tom Snyder’s late night talk show. Bob’s Lambda Literary Award-winning collection, “Openly Bob” was published to acclaim in 1997 by Rob Weisbach Books. USA Today said about “Openly Bob” that, “You’ll laugh out loud” while The Lambda Book Review called it: “One of the most rewarding gay books of the year.”
Bob has also written for Dennis Miller on the “MTV Video Awards,” and was a writer for Roseanne’s variety series, “Saturday Night Special.” A New York native, Bob remembers the first time he told his mother he was gay, when his stand-up career began to take off. “She said, ‘You’re gay? Are you seeing a psychiatrist?’ I said, “No, I’m seeing a lieutenant in the Navy.”
Since that time Bob has taken off nationwide appearing on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Mad TV” and a host of other credits too numerous to mention. “I’m not embarrassed about being gay but being from Buffalo is another thing,” Smith said.
Everyday life is Bob’s biggest asset for material and being gay just adds another dimension to his set.
Appearing with Smith this week is Scott Kennedy, who looks more like a pro football player than a stand-up comic, let alone someone who might be considered gay. In fact, he played football throughout most of his school years. After high school, Scott attended The College of Santa Fe in New Mexico where he studied psychology. He has had a long list of jobs before comedy, from Porsche salesman to radio DJ. Scott began comedy in Lubbock, Texas, after a friend entered him in an amateur comedy competition.
Once bitten by the comedy bug, he quit his long list of “real jobs” and started touring the country. When asked if he was surprised about his new career, Scott replies, “Not surprised that I do stand-up comedy. I was always kind of the class clown. Surprised that I’m gay? I’m sure some will be surprised.” Yep. Scott is very funny.
“That’s OK,” he said. “I hope a lot of them are surprised and come to the realization that gay people are not any different than anyone else. You grow up with them, go to school with them, they are your friends, your family, and you may not even be aware of their sexuality. Sexuality shouldn’t be an issue.”