Comedian Jason Stuart on comedy, coming out and HollywoodEntertainment Feature, Top Highlights Thursday, February 14th, 2013
Most comedians will tell you the material they use comes from everyday life happenings and things most of us actually read in the papers and see on the news. These days, comedians pull from whatever source they can to show the humor and absurdity of our everyday lives.
Comedian Jason Stuart, who will be bringing his evening of comedy to Martinis Above Fourth Feb. 28, is no different. Well, sort of.
Stuart was born in the Bronx but at a very young age was shuttled off to Los Angeles, giving him no time to really miss the East Coast or New York City. “I was born in the Bronx and raised in Los Angeles,” Stuart said. “I was a year old when I moved. I was very little and in a car and had no choice!”
Moving to L.A. did, however, afford him the opportunity to find a place where he felt he belonged. Stuart, an openly gay actor and comedian, is celebrating his twentieth year as an openly gay performer. In his early years, being involved in the business was something that he felt allowed him to be who he really was.
“Oh, I just wanted it [an entertainment career] so bad,” Stuart said. “I think it sort of saved me as a kid. I really do. It gave me a place to deal with my emotions [about being gay], and also I was funny so it made me … it gave me a place to share my feelings.”
The acting bug was something Stuart sought out all on his own with no help from his family.
“I did it [acting] on my own. My parents didn’t want me to be in show business,” Stuart confided. “I think it’s very difficult … it’s a difficult life if you don’t become Brad Pitt; but I love acting more now than when I was a kid. I have such a love for it.”
His work as a comedian came out of his work as an actor. Which, as of late, seems to be the other way around for most comedians. But according to Stuart, he has always been involved in all different types of mediums in the entertainment business. So it has, in some ways, been an easy transition for him from one medium to the other.
“I started out as an actor as a kid,” Stuart said. “I didn’t think I was good looking enough, or I didn’t think I fitted in. It’s really because I was gay, in a way, because there was no place for me in those days. When you’re a gay person in show business and you’re in front of the camera, especially in those days, your options were quite limited. If people thought you were gay then that was it, unless you were really good at hiding it. I think it has changed now, but it hasn’t changed enough.”
Stuart, co-chair of the National LGBT Actors Committee for SAG for the last seven years, says working on the committee is his life’s work and that it helps to make the entertainment world more accepting of gay actors.
“I mean [it has helped] everyone from Neil Patrick Harris to Jodi Foster, who recently came out on the Golden Globes,” Stuart explained. “Her coming out was … well the difference between her coming out and Ellen DeGeneres coming out was there was more of a progression. The way it’s being done now it’s not a big surprise or big shock, now it’s like OK, now we can just talk about this, we don’t have to worry about it.”
Stuart went on to say that someone like Foster has much more to be concerned about than just having it affect her acting career. She also has a business and employees to consider and how her coming out will affect them as well.
“Foster was the first movie star … there has never been a movie star to come out before, ever,” he said. “She was the first and I think it was pretty terrific. I mean you could see she was frightened. I mean I don’t know if you’ve ever spoken in front of everybody that has ever hired you all in one room, and you tell them something that you were told to never tell anybody. I can imagine her fear and trepidation. She was frightened.”
He is also honest and frank about actors coming out and how he thinks it has affected his career and other actors as well.
“I think everything affects your work,” Stuart confessed. I think it makes you a worse actor, at times, when you’re not out. I think it makes your artistic growth more difficult when you are in the closet. I believe that. That was a big change for me. The whole world opens up in an entirely different way. Ian McKellan came out years ago, Harvey Fierstein as well; Nathan Lane lied for a long time; Sean Hayes lied for a long time … they just didn’t answer questions. I think there’s a big difference between people saying ‘Oh, you’re gay’ and you just saying it. Saying it, you take the power. You take the power away from the people, to bully you or to tease you. That’s the difference.”
Stuart’s outspokenness politically and in his comedy oddly seems to compliment and parallel each other benefiting both careers quite well. On one hand he’s helping the LGBT acting community by sharing his experiences as a gay performer and on the other hand he’s able to seamlessly write and improvise in his comedy show.
When it comes to his show and who it was that inspired him to become a comedian he is very quick to answer.
“My mother definitely,” Stuart said. “My mother is so funny. She was a big star when I was a kid but she didn’t have a film! She has been married four times, two she buried two she killed. She calls me on the phone and she says ‘How are you?’ I say, ‘Mom I met this really great guy,’ and she says, ‘Is he gay?’ and I said ‘of course he’s gay! No, he’s a leprechaun!’ She says ‘Why are you yelling at me?’ And I said, ‘Because I have been out for 25 years,’ and she said, ‘I forgot!’ That’s my mother; she’s hysterically funny.”
Stuart keeps busy these days not just with his stand up appearances, but also with many film and television appearances, and his own radio show, Name-Dropping with Jason Stuart on RadioTitans.com, Tuesdays from 1-2 p.m.
Stuart’s Web site jasonstuart.com has all kinds of information about his upcoming appearances, press, videos and his CD. His upcoming show, I’m the Daddy and I Got Candy will be at Martinis Above Fourth, located at 3940 Fourth Ave., in San Diego Feb. 28, at 8 p.m. For reservations call 619-400-4500.
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