Politics, corporate greed and unapologetic riffs on his gay life are just some of the skewers that comedian, impressionist and actor James Adomian wields in his standup act, which storms into Atlanta this weekend.
The comic (photo) plays two shows a night at Laughing Skull Comedy Lounge on Friday and Saturday, with an evening performance on Sunday. Even before we talk to him, trust us: Go get your tickets now. It’s one of the Best Gay Things to Do in Atlanta This Weekend.
Adomian first hit wide mainstream consciousness as a Top 10 finalist on “Last Comic Standing” (video above), where he railed on stupidity and laid down spot-on impressions of celebrities and politicians. He doesn’t hold back or pull punches, and audiences love him for it. That includes being unapologetically queer and frank about it, but being gay certainly doesn’t define or limit his material.
In addition to standup gigs, appearances on late night talk shows and a forthcoming comedy album, Adomian embodies a variety of hilarious characters for networks including Comedy Central as well as in online videos and podcasts like the edgy “Comedy Bang Bang,” which is about to hit IFC as a TV show of its own.
All of the above have created a diverse following for Adomian’s “I’m ranting, but you need to chill out” funny business. If you’re not among his devotees yet, we asked him a few questions to give you a taste of his articulate vision of the world, being gay in comedy and why you need to get your ass to Laughing Skull this weekend.
Describe your comedy for the uninitiated.
Well, I guess anybody who’s not familiar with my work is in very good company, because I’m merely a delightful nobody! So if you’re finding out about me at all, you’re ahead of the curve. A lot of people know me for my crazy characters and sketch videos online, and of course podcasts like “Comedy Bang Bang.”
What I like to do in comedy is to take chances and play. My standup act is a wide range of stories, characters, impressions and rants. I do some experimental material, and even with more scripted bits, I rarely tell the same joke the same way twice. I call that fun, but some people call it reckless. Perhaps historians will decide.
Have you always done impressions? Which ones might pop out at Laughing Skull?
Yes, I’ve done impressions since I was a wee little thing. We all do, actually, when we learn to talk. Some of us just never shut up. These days I love doing former Minnesota Gov. Jesse “The Body” Ventura, and he usually makes an appearance at my shows, along with Gary Busey, Sam Elliott and many others.
Your appeal and audience are diverse. Did you ever worry about including gay stuff in your act? What’s your take on being a “gay comedian,” or does “representing” factor into your mindset at all?
I do have a diverse audience and I love it. To borrow from Johnny Cash, I’m gay and I’m a comedian, but I don’t consider myself a “gay comedian.” Queer maybe, but people know what that means. My act is gay-friendly, and I tell stories about my life – which is deliciously gay – but I’ve got other things to talk about too. Turns out most people like a good time no matter what labels they walk around with, and I’ve got just enough dumb things to say about all kinds of topics that people find interesting.
It’s important for me to talk about dating men, partly because it’s still rare and dangerous in comedy, and partly because it’s so damn fun. Part of the reason I got back into performing standup as myself a few years ago was to be able to talk about who I am and to tell funny stories from my life and point of view, sexuality included. I still love doing characters, but it’s hard to communicate your real feelings to an audience when you’re exclusively pretending to be other people all the time. So nowadays I aim to balance my wild fictional material with my real life, which is pretty wild itself.
Politics, gay or not, creeps into your sets pretty often. But what issues really keep you up at night?
Well, mainstream American politics seems as fake as professional wrestling at this point, but I do love wrestling. In many ways, Occupy Wall Street rekindled my passion for continually creating a just and sustainable world in defiance of corporate power. I hope the banks and bullies don’t win, but either way I’ll talk shit about them as long as I can. And sometimes the least you can do is actually the best game plan.
Why should “the gays” come see your show?
Well, a lot of what I do is aimed at demolishing homophobia, piece by piece on stage, so that future generations have even better chances than I did. Homophobic advertising and the “gay villain” archetype are two targets of mine. I played sports, so shattering the closet door is just pure fun for me. And I do it with sass too, so we all have fun.
So what else are you up to?
My first standup album, “Low Hangin’ Fruit,” is coming out this month. It will be available first at Earwolf.com and other places later in the year. You can also see me on some awesome TV shows in the next couple of months: the new “Comedy Bang Bang” on IFC and a super fun drag appearance on “Children’s Hospital” during Adult Swim. And of course, ten hundred thousand podcasts all the time. I’m all over.
James Adomian plays Laughing Skull Lounge on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., plus a Sunday set at 7 p.m.