Nonbinary Comics, Right Now
for The New York Times
Over the course of two weeks, I joined five nonbinary comedians for an evening on the town, watching them perform, and getting a peek behind the curtain of their rising careers. With words & interviews by Shane O'Neill, this Arts feature was a laugh-filled dive into the queer side of comedy.
- Peter Smith is philosophical about the concept of nonbinary gender identity. “All language is wrong,” Smith said. “To pick an identity still has a binary nature to it because there’s still a decision that needs to be made.”
- The stand-up comedian Jes Tom has a go-to pronoun joke: “I like when people call me ‘they.’ It makes me feel less lonely.”
- During their more traditional stand-up sets, Spike Einbinder sometimes uses their trans identity to toy with their audience. “I’ll say ‘Who here thinks I’m a girl?’” Einbinder said. “And usually people are too afraid to answer that.”
- James Tison bristled at the idea that a comedy night by and for L.G.B.T.Q. comedians represents a radical departure from comedy at large or a softening of jokes. “I don’t think anybody has neutral material,” they said. “It’s a made-up concept. There’s just a lot of straight men in the business and we call that neutral.”
- While they do tell jokes about their gender identity (“I’m nonbinary, so I’m not like other girls. Because I’m a person.”), Lorelei Ramirez often veers into absurdist body horror monologues delivered in voices that can test the line between cutesy and creepy.
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