What a coup for producer/host Robert Keller and Yuk Yuk's to get James Adomian to headline during WorldPride week. The L.A.-based Adomian - a stand-up, actor, impressionist and podcaster - has frequently been touted as the first openly gay comic to potentially break through to the mainstream.
Based on his act, which continues through Saturday, he could succeed at that. His writing might not always be the sharpest, but his delivery is so polished and he's so charismatic and likeable - chalk it up to that Midwest upbringing - that he's hard to resist.
After a couple of cute local references - about our action-packed crossing light symbols and our horrific cigarette package warning labels - he slips into his act proper, which touches on trying to buy medical marijuana in L.A. and deconstructing the British space program via the David Bowie song Space Oddity.
That leads to one of his best bits, about his desire to play a fey British officer in a World War II movie, which segues nicely to a timely joke about World Cup broadcasters.
Unlike many first-rate mimics, Adomian doesn't lose his personality in his impressions. There's a smart, biting subtext in his routine about old-fashioned euphemisms for gays (a bit that seems taken from a joke he often closes with about a disastrous opening set he once did for Joan Rivers). It's also there in his dead-on takedown on Super Bowl commercials that are simultaneously homophobic and homoerotic.
Sending up hyper masculine actor Sam Elliott's absurd advertisement for beef ("Beef - it's what's for dinner"), Adomian then has the actor shilling for transgender issues and pushing tofu ("Soy - it's what's for brunch"). Brilliantly subversive.
And he ends with his famous extended bit about thinly veiled gay villains in popular culture, from the lisping Kaa in The Jungle Book to the mincing Decepticons from everyone's favourite secretly homophobic cartoon series, the Transformers.
While never preachy, Adomian exudes a spirit of inclusivity and good humour, reclaiming hurtful symbols of the past and putting a cool, knowing spin on them.
Queer or not, you owe it to yourself to see one of the best comics around.
The lineup for the Laugh Out Proud shows vary, but on Wednesday - in a special show for Robert Keller's monthly OUTrageous show - they included Ted Morris and Trevor Boris, two of the most experienced gay comics in the city.
Morris draws on the absurdities involved in his veterinary day job for much of his act, adopting a hyped-up energy to strong effect. Boris is as funny as ever, pushing the limits of bad taste by chronicling jokes about a masturbating Muslim taxi driver, having sex with Stephen Harper's son (who follows him on Twitter) and sponsoring a two-year-old girl in Zimbabwe. Boris makes his comedy seem effortless, which enhances the experience.
So does Catherine McCormick, the sole lesbian on the night I saw, who felt determined to "raise the pussy joke quotient." Her act is first-rate, from a series of jokes about her passive-aggressive boss - who hands out "non-pliments," or observations that aren't compliments - to her failed attempt to get a flattering Pride haircut.
Host and producer Robert Keller gets things off to a lively start, with an energetic, if repetitive, lip-synch/dance sequence about Tinder, and clever bits about validation, social media and (later on) his biting yet affectionate impersonation of Celine Dion.