Interview with Comedian Nick Tarr

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

When the Southeast PA gay potluck group the Chester Country Brunch Bunch announced their 20th Anniversary Celebration, which will be happening in West Chester , PA on January 31, they announced that they hired the seasoned stand-up comic Nick Tarr to perform at it. Tarr lives in Phoenix, Arizona , and has been performing as a comedian, MC/awards host, and impersonator for his adult life, and he’s done TV, commercials and print work as well (including ads for the Arizona state lottery). He first tried his hand at stand-up in the late 80’s, but he said that he was not successful at it until he came out about a decade later. With his timing, quick-wittedness, and ability to improvise, he compares his delivery style to Kathy Griffin’s. Nick also makes jewelry pendants, which he will be selling at his appearance. And like any good-standing comic he aspires to do his own HBO comedy special and further his TV and film appearances, and hopefully get involved with a sitcom as well. This will be the first time he will be performing in the Philadelphia area.

Nick Tarr was nice enough to take time out of his busy schedule to do an interview with me. We discussed about the upcoming gig, the types of crowds he gets to play to, and makes political reference to Arizona being one of the three states that passed referendum that would write in their state constitutions that same-sex marriages be banned this past November.

How did you get involved with stand-up comedy?  Was it something you wanted to do from the get-go, or was more like something you’ve evolved into?

Well, in the 80’s I REALLY wanted to do it, I felt like it was what I was born to do. But I was not out and being green and gay, I did not have a chance. I was still in the survival mode. The young gays do not know what I mean but any one past 45 or living in the south does. Then I tried it again in 1998. I went loud and proud and fought my way into straight only clubs. First bold, and then more relaxed. I figured the drags had the corner on the gay bars, and the bar owners were not interested in gay comedy at the time. 

How would you describe your comedy? 

I am the gay male Kathy Griffin, but I ramble on about my life and real things, not celebs.  (Side note, I love and hate her. I love her comedy but she–a STRAIGHT WOMAN–has the gay following. I am the one who got beat up in school, I am the one who risked everything to come out….yet she gets the gays, and charges BANK. So…bitter, but I love her talent and hoots-spa!)

Do you do any political material in your stand-up routine?

How can I not, WE GAY MEN ARE political. Change the word gay to black, woman, Mexican, handicap or Jewish and see if ANYONE would settle for saying “They can’t get married just because.” It is a cruel fate and not one that I will go quietly into the night about. It is wrong on the highest level. My love for my guy is ten times what these breeders have and yet when I gave him a ring it is worth nothing to the nation I pay taxes to? So, how can we as gay comics not have some politics in our material, unless we are sellout corporate comics just doing mashed potato comedy for the money.

Who are you favorite stand-up comedians?

Of course, Kathy Griffin, Emo Phillips. I like Dane Cook and envy his life as well. I love David Cross and anyone who pushes the line, but remains funny. I also loved and miss Mitch Headberg.

You have a YouTube page and a MySpace page, which helps to spread the word on your appearances and gives the viewer some idea what you’re about. 

MySpace tells more of what I am about. But on a more laid back scale, YouTube gets me more search eyes. But my own web site is the best––that shows it all.

When you do a stand-up routine these days, do you ever think "You know, this would make a great clip on YouTube"?

ALL THE TIME. That is the tough part, not like the paintings I do or the jewelry art. When you have a killer set you are not filming and when you have a crappy set, and we all do, THEN the cameras are rolling. But I have less and less bad sets now that I am seasoned, just lazy about bringing and setting up the camera and while I am on stage anyone could walk off with a $3,000.00 camera. I would not know.

How has being an "out" comedian influenced your material and your interaction with your audience?

A LOT . Once I made the jump to be out and place that on my web site my bookings went down. Then gay groups like Pride, which are a commercial PC Straight booking JOKE these days went way down and it made it tough. Straight corporate America which has money does not want the gay comic, then Pride and all these marriage groups want straight entertainers for the crowds and money… so who am I left to get work from? Special Interests groups like the one in Philly, thank you very much. Even the Bear groups who were my target market screw you over and even hire woman for men’s only functions, yet gay woman groups will not hire the men. Go figure…it ain’t easy, you just have to keep trying.

What are your opinions on the state of gay culture today?

Well, I believe it is not just the gay nature we are dealing with, but a general human destructive one. You see, we fought AIDS, then we die and those living forgot to teach our young people and now they wear it as a badge of honor…what the f—k? In a nutshell, we have it better than we have in a while, and the more of us that come out the better off the rest will have it. So be friendly and spread the word and be real. Nice is nice no matter what group you are part of and we all know in every group there are assholes. LOL

Any final words?

Come to the show! (Grins) But since I have your ear, I just got married in Kauai , Hawaii . Not for real–since we are second-class citizens. I met the man I love and want to spend the rest of my life with, and yet, living in Arizona , it is not “of the law.” When people tell me to go to another state to get married, I tell them it is like saying to a black person, “Well, you can ride in the front of the bus in California or Massachusetts .” It is insulting in our America , but then look at the IDIOT we had as President and the IDIOTS who voted for him. So who is to blame, the leader or the people who voted for him? I don’t know.

I have a lot to say but this has nothing to do with my stand up comedy and what I will be doing in Philly, so come and see the humor and enjoy what you have while you have it because there is no…FOR SURE. That is life and we are all racing for the same finish line. (Grins) Death baby–that is the grand prize for us all. Hope it is good!

Nick Tarr will be performing at the Chester County Brunch Bunch’s 20 th Anniversary Celebration, which will be at the Chester Country Historical Society, 225 North High Street, West Chester, PA 19380, and will be on Saturday January 31, 2009 from 6 to 11:30PM. (Snow date will be February 7.) DJ Don Trout will be spinning dance tunes following Nick’s performance. There is an $8.00 cover at the door, and Brunch Bunch members and guests will be asked to bring appetizers or beverages. RSVP to Pete Giunta at 610-431-4920 by Saturday, January 24 to make sure that you’ll get a seat there!


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