glbtq: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture
home
arts
literature
social sciences
special features
discussion
about glbtq
   search

 
   Encyclopedia
   Discussion
 
 

   member name
  
   password
  
 
   
   Forgot Your Password?  
   
Not a Member Yet?  
   
JOIN TODAY. IT'S FREE!

 
  Advertising Opportunities
  Permissions & Licensing
  Terms of Service
  Privacy Policy
  Copyright

 

 

 

 

 
literature

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-B  C-E  F-L  M-Z

     
Humor  
 
page: 1  2  3  4  5  6  

The Witty Epigram and Stand-Up Comedy

The witty epigram, or one-liner, has long been a staple of the expression of humorous gay sensibility, as in Oscar Wilde's "I can resist anything but temptation!"

During Manhattan's "pansy craze" of the 1920s and 1930s, gay performers like Gene Malin emceed nightclub shows, at first in Greenwich Village but later in less bohemian midtown, acting like straight men imitating gay men. Malin boasted, "I wear a rose in my lapel because it won't stay in my hair!"

Sponsor Message.

In The Queens' Vernacular (1972), Bruce Rogers accompanies most of his definitions of gay terms with witty examples.

Today, the epigram has reached the stage and the airwaves with a host of gay and lesbian stand-up comedians, like Robin Tyler, Tom Amiano, Sara Cytron, Frank Maya, Jaffe Cohen, Kate Clinton, and Reno. Speaking to their homosexual audience, they can discuss the social issues of the moment and comment on family relations from a gay and lesbian perspective. Some of them, however, will go on to reach a general audience, which will necessarily dilute the gay and lesbian content of their material.

There are famous gay and lesbian performers, who must remain unnamed here because they are closeted, who began with a general audience and have kept their humor general while winking about issues of sexual identity. But with the passage of time, that strategy is becoming less necessary.

Conclusion

Having been refined in the crucible of minority oppression, lesbian and gay consciousness continues to evolve away from its once ghettoized sensibility. Gay and lesbian humor has grown less secretively angry and more openly celebratory, and it is becoming recognized beyond the borders of the world that gave birth to it. As it enters the mainstream in its various forms, it is increasingly being seen as a cultural treasure, not only for gay men and lesbians, but for all people who appreciate laughter.

Arnie Kantrowitz

  <previous page   page: 1  2  3  4  5  6    

    
 interact  
   
Contact Us
 
Join the Discussion
 
 find 
   
Related Entries
 
More Entries by this contributor
 
A Bibliography on this Topic

 
Citation Information
 
More Entries about Literature
 
 


   Related Entries
  
literature >> Overview:  Camp

Combining elements of incongruity, theatricality, and exaggeration, camp is a form of humor that helps homosexuals cope with a hostile environment.

literature >> Overview:  Comedy of Manners

The Comedy of Manners, which flourished on the Restoration stage, has been particularly amenable to twentieth-century gay male writers as a vehicle for social satire in both dramatic and nondramatic works.

arts >> Overview:  Comedy: Stand-Up, Gay Male

Beginning in the 1980s, a new generation of gay stand-up comics began to appear, telling jokes from the perspective of the gay insider.

arts >> Overview:  Comedy: Stand-Up, Lesbian

Lesbian stand-up comedy provides an excellent example of how comedy can foster social and political awareness in both minority and mainstream communities.

arts >> Overview:  Comic Strips and Cartoons

Comic strips and cartoons have served for decades as a powerful tool of satire and humor; today numerous queer comic artists create works that are published in both mainstream and alternative media.

literature >> Overview:  Folklore

The primary functions of folklore in gay and lesbian life and literature have been to aid in acculturation and cohesion and to help in coping with conflict.

literature >> Auden, W. H.

One of the most accomplished poets of the twentieth century, W. H. Auden found that his gayness led him to new insights into the universal impulse to love and enlarged his understanding of all kinds of relationships.

arts >> Bechdel, Alison

Cartoonist Alison Bechdel is best known for her long-running comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, which has run in alternative gay and lesbian newspapers for nearly two decades.

literature >> Brown, Rita Mae

Lesbian poet and novelist Rita Mae Brown, best known for the highly successful Rubyfruit Jungle, resists neat categorization.

literature >> Burroughs, William S.

Both in his life and his novels, American writer William S. Burroughs was an outlaw and a provocateur, focusing on sexual repression as the fundamental element of social control and writing in a surrealistic and bitterly satirical mode.

literature >> Capote, Truman

Truman Capote's fiction and autobiographical works helped establish what might be called the quintessential homosexual writing style of the 1950s and 1960s.

literature >> Chambers, Jane

Jane Chambers was one of the first American playwrights to create openly lesbian characters who were comfortable with their own homosexuality.

arts >> Clinton, Kate

Comedian Kate Clinton has been comfortably open about her lesbianism from the beginning of her career in the entertainment field.

literature >> Coward, Sir Noël

Although Coward's plays are about heterosexual couples, they are written in the language and spirit of camp and reject traditional domestic values.

literature >> Crowley, Mart

Playwright Mart Crowley deserves honor for having blazed the trail for gay-themed theater with his 1969 groundbreaking play The Boys in the Band.

arts >> Cruse, Howard

Prolific gay cartoonist Howard Cruse has not only created the historic Wendel comic strip, but has also published an important graphic novel.

literature >> DeCaro, Frank

Funnyman Frank DeCaro has found success both in serious journalism as a fashion writer and editor and in comedy as a writer, performer, and radio talk show host.

arts >> DiMassa, Diane

Diane DiMassa is best known as the creator of the controversial and widely popular comic-zine Hothead Paisan: Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist.

literature >> Duplechan, Larry

Lambda Award-winning author Larry Duplechan is best known for Blackbird (1987), a coming of age novel about a black teenager growing up in the bland outer suburbs of Los Angeles in the 1970s.

literature >> Durang, Christopher

A fiercely comic playwright, as well as actor and screenwriter, Christopher Durang often incorporates gay themes and characters in his plays.

literature >> Feinberg, David B.

In his novels anatomizing gay life at the peak of the AIDS epidemic, David Feinberg used humor as a defense mechanism, a means to avoid madness and despair in a world that had become nightmarishly absurd.

literature >> Field, Edward

Edward Field's poetry is an account of coming to terms with homosexuality in the literary world of New York in the second half of the twentieth century.

literature >> Fierstein, Harvey

Award-winning Harvey Fierstein is one of the finest gay male playwrights currently working in the American theater.

literature >> Firbank, Ronald

Ronald Firbank's witty, campy novels mock the dominant homophobic, materialistic culture of early twentieth-century England.

literature >> Ginsberg, Allen

The forthrightly gay Allen Ginsberg is probably the best-known American poet to emerge in the post-World War II period.

literature >> Hine, Daryl

The Canadian-American poet Daryl Hine was a leader in giving serious homosexual poetry a place in the mainstream of American poetry.

literature >> Howard, Richard

Richard Howard's searching and witty poetry, in which homosexuality is not a problem but a solution, is a significant contribution to the gay and lesbian literary heritage.

literature >> Keenan, Joe

Best known for his work as a writer and producer for the hit television show Frasier, Joe Keenan is also the author of richly comic gay-themed novels.

literature >> Kirkwood, James

Co-author of the book of the celebrated musical A Chorus Line, James Kirkwood also wrote five popular novels and two nonfiction books.

literature >> Kramer, Larry

Controversial playwright, novelist, and essayist Larry Kramer has been a pioneer in the gay political response to AIDS in America.

literature >> Kushner, Tony

In addition to being a prize-winning playwright, Tony Kushner has become a celebrity spokesman for gay politics and AIDS activism.

arts >> Ludlam, Charles

An innovator in the "Theater of the Ridiculous," actor and playwright Charles Ludlam drew on many elements of camp and farce, but never allowed them to obscure the seriousness of his themes.

literature >> Maney, Mabel

San Francisco artist and satirist Mabel Maney spins lesbian adventure tales out of perky feminine archetypes from the 1950s and 1960s.

literature >> Maupin, Armistead

A sharp social critic, novelist Armistead Maupin places his gay characters within a large framework of humanity, creating a social history of San Francisco during the tumultuous decades of the 1970s and 1980s.

literature >> McCauley, Stephen

A master of the modern comedy of manners, novelist Stephen McCauley has been praised for his shrewd observations about contemporary morals, his tart dialogue and ironic tone, and his charming, self-deprecating gay male protagonists.

literature >> O'Hara, Frank

The influential poet Frank O'Hara wrote works informed by both modern art and the world of urban gay male culture.

literature >> Orton, Joe

The gay British playwright Joe Orton, an important precursor of the queer literary movement, is perhaps the finest writer of farce in the twentieth century.

literature >> Patrick, Robert

Robert Patrick is a founding father of gay drama in America and an influence in the development of gay drama in England.

literature >> Preston, John

One of the most prolific gay writers of recent decades, John Preston helped elevate pornographic fiction into a genre viewed as having literary merit.

literature >> Proust, Marcel

Marcel Proust is the author of A la recherche du temps perdu, one of the major achievements of Modernism and a great gay novel.

arts >> Rudnick, Paul

Out American playwright, novelist, and screenwriter Paul Rudnick brings a gently subversive wit to all of his projects.

literature >> Savage, Dan

Best known for his syndicated sex-advice column, Dan Savage is also the author of books chronicling his and his partner's experiences in adopting a child and dealing with the issue of same-sex marriage

literature >> Schulman, Sarah

Author and playwright Sarah Schulman is concerned with constructing a lesbian identity around and against the multicultural identities of New York.

literature >> Stein, Gertrude

In addition to becoming--with Alice B. Toklas--half of an iconic lesbian couple, Gertrude Stein was an important innovator and transformer of the English language.

arts >> Tyler, Robin

Charismatic performer and activist Robin Tyler has spent much of her life enmeshed in the struggle for gay and lesbian rights, from planning national marches to promoting same-sex marriage.

literature >> Vidal, Gore

The multifaceted Gore Vidal is important in the gay literary heritage because of the straightforwardness with which he pursued gay themes and included gay characters in his work.

literature >> Wilde, Oscar

Oscar Wilde is important both as an accomplished writer and as a symbolic figure who exemplified a way of being homosexual at a pivotal moment in the emergence of gay consciousness.

literature >> Williams, Tennessee

Conflicted over his own sexuality, Tennessee Williams wrote directly about homosexuality only in his short stories, his poetry, and his late plays.

literature >> Wilson, Doric

A pioneer in the development of contemporary gay theater, Doric Wilson has been instrumental in Off-Off-Broadway theater in New York City since the early 1960s.


    Bibliography
   

Austen, Roger. Playing the Game: The Homosexual Novel in America. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1977.

Chauncey, George. Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World 1890-1940. New York: Basic Books, 1994.

Stevens, Robin, ed. Girlfriend Number One: Lesbian Life in the Nineties. Pittsburgh: Cleis Press, 1994.

Woods, Gregory. "High Culture and High Camp: The Case of Marcel Proust." Camp Grounds. David Bergman, ed. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1993. 121-133.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Kantrowitz, Arnie  
    Entry Title: Humor  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated June 3, 2008  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/literature/humor.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 1995, 2002 New England Publishing Associates  
 

 

This Entry Copyright © 1995, 2002 New England Publishing Associates

www.glbtq.com is produced by glbtq, Inc., 1130 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL   60607 glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.