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Back Lot Bash Comedy Kick Off Features Julie Goldman and Brandy Howard

ComedyKickoffJulie Goldman and Brandy Howard pair up to add panache to movie parodies and reviews for “In Your Box Office“. Most recently, Tello Films is featuring their off-the-cuff comedic/reality/advice show, “Gay Street Therapy“. You can get a taste of their sardonic wit Thursday, June 27th at Mayne Stage during the Back Lot Bash’s comedy kickoff.

Both are stars in their own right. If for some reason you’ve not seen the queer comedic genius that is The Big Gay Sketch Show, go check some episodes out on Hulu. In TBGS, Julie shines in some amazing sketches such as Lesbian Speed Dating, Lesbian Phone Sex, or (my personal favorite) the Birthday Party. In addition to the two series mentioned above, Julie is currently performing standup all over the country.

Brandy, on the other hand, has worked with Chicago-based Tello Films prior to starting in “Gay Street Therapy”. She plays Snapper in Season 2 of Cowgirl Up — an escaped convict hiding at the ranch. She is slated to appear in an upcoming movie yet to be released.

Julie and Brandy answered some questions via email about comedy, pride, and Chicago.

The L Stop: Julie, you’ve expressed some frustration with the current landscape for lesbian comedians who look obviously gay. I think that a lot of us who are women can relate to this on their day-to-day lives. Can you discuss this a little more and perhaps give some hints of how it might work it’s way into your standup?

JG: My “obviously gay looks” have pretty much been a part of my stand up since I came out. I have always felt like the best way to navigate the industry, and feel confident and comfortable and honest is… to be honest. As a stand up, I want to diffuse any kind of weirdness, then deconstruct it, then revel in its absurdity,and then celebrate it and move on. I think regular people in regular jobs who are “obviously gay looking” have to do similar things in order to make it through the day, and I think having a sense of humor is the key to any situation.

TLS: Certainly having the ability to defuse, deconstruct, revel in the absurdity, but finally celebrating it is ultimately what pride is about. What other advantages do you think that it might present, either as part of your career or as part of your personal life?

JG: Ha! Advantages? I can’t think of any… other than attracting the kind of girls that enjoy a lady-gentleman! Certainly career-wise, it doesn’t feel like there are any advantages. The pool of competition is much smaller, but the available roles are few and far between. So, in that respect, I’d say it presents a lot more challenges than advantages. The truth is, if I were able to soften my look and keep my manly edge in the closet, so to speak, I’d probably be on a TV show by now.

But, in general, the main advantage is that I’m being myself and I’m being authentic.  Everything good (professionally and personally) come as a result of owning and honoring who I am.

TLS: How do you think it’s different performing in front of a mostly queer audience verses a mixed or straight audience?

JG: First,  I have to say a mixed audience is the best audience. I think when everyone is together – gay, straight, black, white, women, men, and everything in between, it can be an awesome and fun experience for everyone. The hope is, (coming from a comedian) you want a common bond between everyone, and usually that’s when all of us are in on the joke together, and at the same time- all of us are the brunt of the joke.  So when you have a mixture of all types of people, we all give each other license (in a way) to laugh at, and with, each other.  The one thing I really enjoy about an all queer audience is that I don’t have to explain myself, and that’s always liberating.  There’s definitely something to be said for not having to deconstruct my simple existence in the world.

TLS: That’s a great point – that bringing us together under the same joke (regardless of race, gender, sexuality, etc) is a great way to form a common bond. Still, I think the majority of the audience at the Back Lot Bash comedy night will be queer women. Given that you won’t have to explain yourself, does that free you to pull in more ‘insider jokes’, or do you find that they’re too cliche?

JG: I think the mostly queer audience at the Backlot Bash will be nothing but fun! I mean the fact that’s it a BASH means we are already winning! And then when you turn it into a BACKLOT Bash?! I’m just imagining a bunch of gay ladies celebrating gayness on some gay backlot somewhere in the gayest part of Chicago.  How fun is that?!

To be able to stand in front of a (mostly) queer and (mostly) lady audience is super comfortable and not cliche at all! It’s like walking into a party where you know everyone and you just immediately start having a good time.   At the end of the day that’s what all of this about – having fun. And I promise you, that’s what were gonna do!

TLS: How did the two of you meet? What inspired your various joint ventures (such as In Your Box Office and Gay Street Therapy)?

BH: We met on one of the famous Rosie O’Donnell ‘R Family’ Cruises.  Julie was there performing with Big Gay Sketch Show and I came on the cruise as a guest of a former Big Gay Sketch Show cast member Nicol Paone. We hit it off right away. It was also on this cruise where I met Jonny McGovern, and soon after Julie and I became regular guests on his hit podcast “Gay Pimpin’ with Jonny McGovern.” The podcast had a lot to do with our initial exposure as a dynamic duo.  Initially, Julie was well known for her stand up, but it wasn’t until we started doing Jonny’s podcast that people became aware of our collaboration. Right around that time, Riese Bernard, the Editor in Chief of Autostraddle.com, reached out to Julie and I about creating a show for them and that’s how Julie & Brandy: In Your Box Office was born.

But, to answer your question more directly: our joint online adventures were inspired by a frustration with selling our scripts.  We have written two gay feature length screenplays. One is a mainstream, lesbian, romantic comedy called “Nicest Thing,” and the other is a gay, zombie, horror comedy called “Gay Baby Army.”  The gate keepers in Hollywood (agents, managers, producers, studios & financial backers) decided that heterosexual movie-goers aren’t interested in funny movies with gay protagonists. The reality of this was crushing and nearly debilitating to us, both professionally and personally.  In Your Box Office and Gay Street Therapy help us deal with this shitty reality, and they also help us feel connected with the gay community and reinforce the idea that the stories are there, and people want to hear them.  Also, it’s just fun and something to do.

TLS: Given your involvement with Cowgirl Up & the aforementioned joint ventures, you seem pretty entrenched in the gay community. How do you think that this happened?

BH: My love affair with the gay community is long and sordid, and (socially) it began in high school.  I transitioned from socially gay to professionally gay when I met Julie, four years ago.  We started out as good friends, but quickly became writing and creative partners.  We made a calculated move to create funny, gay content for a mainstream audience.  As it turns out, the mainstream wasn’t ready for us, but because of Julie’s huge, loyal, (awesome!) fan base- our collaboration was welcomed with open arms by the gay homies.

Specifically with Cowgirl Up and Tello in general, I got involved because of a sexy girl named Bridget McManus. Bridget and I worked on a dramatic short called MockingBird Sings about a lesbian couple that have a miscarriage and lose their baby. Despite the subject matter, we had a lot of fun getting to know each other and she recommended me to Christin and Nancy Lee for Cowgirl Up. Bridget is one of those rare actresses in Hollywood that isn’t a complete asshole. She is generous and loyal and she really deserves all the great success she’s had.

TLS: Since you’re coming in for Pride, do you have any fun/crazy pride stories you’d like to share?  

JG: We are too lazy to try and clean up any truly crazy pride story we have, because let’s be real- any good pride story involves feces, shame and the ‘morning after HIV pill.’ But, we hosted San Diego pride a few years back and we got to meet Salt & Pepa and that was a real high point for us.

TLS: Why is pride special for you?  

JG: Pride is special for me for all the obvious reasons, but also because it’s the time of year where lots of gay performers get hired.  Legitimate work can be scarce for drag queens, and gay comics and gay musicians, but the pride circuit provides an outlet (and an income) for these people… Including myself of course!

TLS: Is there any chance that the two of you will have the time to enjoy the Back Lot Bash music festival with all of the lovely Chicago queers? Or is it on to the next city’s pride for additional opportunities?

JG: Saturday is my birthday and I WISH we were getting to stay and enjoy the music festival with all the sexy ladies of Chicago. But, unfortunately, we both have to skip town. I am leaving to host St. Louis Pride, and Brandy is going to Arizona to celebrate Pride with her family.  Her Dad’s birthday is also on Saturday  – which btw – is the day in history that the Stonewall Riots happened. Soooooo… perhaps that’s also another reason Brandy feels so comfortable with the gays.  It’s in the DNA.

TLS: What do you like most about Chicago?

JG:Our absolute FAVORITE  part about Chicago is State Representative Deb Mell and her cunninlingus partner and wife, Christin (Baker) Mell. Oh- and the food.

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About Tina

A transplant from the snow and mountains of Upstate NY (why, yes, there IS an entire state above NYC!), Tina moved to Chicago in 2005. Since then, she’s taken full advantage of Chicago’s sports scene, participating in rugby, volleyball, and hockey – just to name a few. Her first love, however, is soccer. She’s proud to have participated in both the 2006 and 2010 Gay Games as well as the 2009 Out Games.

In addition to sports, Tina enjoys traveling (she tries to cross the atlantic at least once a year). Tina is a ‘Jackie of all trades’, so prepare for the unexpected!

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