Camp Tabu Welcomes Comedian Paul Case

The gay funny man dishes on Kathy Griffin, underpants and a certain crush on that cute guy from Noah's Arc







Camp Tabu welcomes New York-based gay comic Paul Case to Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar on Friday, March 11 (9 p.m.). Fans might know Case from here! TV’s Bent and the web series Brooklyn is for LoversTime Out New York‘s praised him for his “dry, conversational style of humor.”

Co-host Alejandro Morales sat down with Case to find out what the Pennsylvania native has planned for the show – and to talk about hecklers, The Secret and what makes Kathy Griffin so frickin’ great.

So since I started doing comedy a couple years ago, I’ve been bouncing around a bunch of local open mics. Sometimes the experiences are bizarre, sometimes they are surprisingly rewarding, and sometimes they’re downright bleak. Have you had any memorable open mic experiences?

You know, honestly, I am the only comedian I know that has never done an open mic. I’ve never done a “bringer.” When I started, I was friends with a few people who were producing their own shows and they took chances and gave me spots, no questions asked. From there, other people saw me and booked me. I realize how lucky I am since I’ve been to many open mics to support friends. The worst experiences being those when people go to see their friends and then either talk over and/or heckle everyone else or who just leave when the friend is finished.

I’ve seen that happen. That is so rude! Any time a comedian tells me they’re bringing a bunch of people to one of my shows, I’ve learned to put them close to the end, in case their friends are of the “okay, we saw you now we’re going to get up in the middle of the show and leave” stripe. You wouldn’t do that during an orchestral concerto. “Okay, Raul did his bassoon solo. Peace out.” Anyway, speaking of putting on shows, you’re doing your own one-man show later this month! How did that come about?

A lot of prayer. And “The Secret.” No, seven years ago I decided I wanted to do my own show, not just a stand-up special, something with stories and songs instead of just jokes. I didn’t know what it was going to be, so I wrote, revised, threw out, etc. Then I shelved it and just performed – a lot. And this past fall I finally felt ready and that I had enough material. Then I narrowed it down to the realization that I’ve had a lot of “interesting” dating/sex experiences, things that people can relate to but still be entertained by in knowing that it didn’t happen to them. So that’s what the show is – laugh at my unfortunate dating life.

I still laugh at my unfortunate dating life. And it’s been more than two years since I’ve been on a date. Speaking of that last U Penn guy that I banged, do you enjoy acting as much as stand-up?

You know, I love both. I love being able to be someone else for a little while, to get to do and say things that I’d never do or say. But I also love the freedom of stand-up. I like that it’s my words and my experiences that are entertaining people, not just me channeling someone else, especially because I’m more of a storytelling comic; I don’t write “jokes.” If I forget something, I’m the only person who knows. However, I’d kill your mother for a great sitcom role. The rent doesn’t pay itself.

Anybody can write a joke about the president, right? But only I can talk about that time I entered a drag competition and my tuck came untucked and I flashed my kibbles to a room full of people. And, the storytelling thing is what makes me like comics like Kathy Griffin so much. With her, it feels less like someone who’s telling you jokes from a stage and more like you’re with one of your friends having a really fun and dishy conversation. So who’s your favorite entertainer?

You think I’m going to say Madonna or Cher or Miley Cyrus, don’t you?

I was thinking more along the lines of a Bonnie Raitt.

It’s Madonna. But as far as someone I look up to and admire: Sandra Bernhard. I think she’s so smart, and her humor is just something you get or you don’t. I can relate to that. I’ve met her a few times and she’s just so real and really sweet, but she doesn’t compromise her work. And, she’s totally underused.

She really is underused! I was at that comedy show in Atlantic City where Margaret Cho also performed – I saw you there! – and Sandra Bernhard did this whole bit where she just read from her Skymall magazine and commented on it. I thought that was risky, but I ended up liking it. Not everyone was on board, though. Sandra has always been sort of off the beaten path, like I’ve watched that YouTube clip of Sandra and Madonna on the David Letterman show, like, a million times, because it’s such awesomely unscripted chaos. Letterman was so exasperated with Sandra, but she kept at it, and I’m like, this chick just does not give a fuck. She’s no Hollywood kiss-ass, and I really respect her for that.

I find that most gay men, myself included, tend to prefer women – in comedy – over men. Why do you think that is?

I think, at least where our generation and the ones before it are concerned, that gay men have internalized a lot of the messages that our media and popular culture send to straight women. When we’ve watched romances unfold on movies, TV, and in advertisements, and we’ve been confronted with the image of a man and a woman, many of us have substituted ourselves for the woman. I’m curious to see how this next generation turns out, with the addition – finally! – of more images in pop culture which reflect the realities of being gay or queer. Anyway, I just love me some brassy women who don’t take shit from nobody. What do you think?

I think gay men sometimes feel as though they don’t relate to male comedians. We’ve often had very different experiences growing up, and because we’re force-fed this “blue collar comedy” stuff that, while funny, is often simple: a boob joke, or a “my wife gets mad when I do this,” etc., I think women dig a little deeper. There is less surface to their jokes and more nuance.

Nuance, yes! So let’s you and I dig a little deeper: boxers or briefs?

Briefs. I’m convinced I’ll get a twisted testicle and end up in an emergency room for an amputation if I wear anything else. I can’t even sleep naked. I need the feeling of support. I’m a Cancer. We’re needy.

I feel the opposite way! Briefs make me feel so confined! And boxer-briefs ride up my thighs. I like a simple pair of plaid boxers, but I do worry about my balls hanging below my knees when I get older. Let’s take moment to let that visual take shape. Moving on, do you have a celebrity crush?

Right now, Darryl Stephens from Noah’s Arc. That smile – don’t get me going. The rest of the time, though, it’s Duane “The Rock” Johnson. I can even forgive that tooth fairy movie.

He was so hot in Escape from Witch Mountain. On the topic of beach bodies, a little while back you did a nude photo shoot for Time Out New York. Were you comfortable traipsing around in your birthday suit?

Honestly, I was nervous going into it. But when I got to the studio, the photographer was so nice and such a pro that it was really fun and easy. Was I happy with the results? No. I was promised a bronzer and a retouching.

You’re a braver man than me. I would just have given the photographer a cardboard cutout of my face on a stick, like “Put this on anyone’s body but mine.” Generally I think nudity should just be kept in porn where it belongs. But I thought you looked good, for what it’s worth. Not bad for a guy from Pennsylvania. What’s been your experience like in the City of Brotherly Love?

I grew up in Erie, “home of the above-ground pool,” as I call it, and I went to college in Pittsburgh. I’m from the “wrong” side of the state. I did a show in New Hope a few years ago, but aside from being at the airport a zillion times, this is my first time in Philadelphia. I’m hoping there are a few brothers who want to show me some love! Darryl Stephens? Can you hear me?