I love comedy, and I also love activism.
I think activism is important, but it can be regrettably hard to consume when things are bleak. This is why I appreciate comedians so much, especially those that are politically active. They take a message that is important and deliver it in a more palatable manner that doesn't leave you emotionally exhausted.
I also find that comedians of disadvantaged demographics provide something that I don't get from the likes of John Mulaney, Bo Burnham, or Mike Birbiglia.
Don't get me wrong, Mike Birbiglia is one of my favorite stand ups of all times - he writes his shows like an essay, and I live for that - but comedy from underprivileged individuals strikes me on a different level.
While comedy has moved away from the days of 'look at this group, wow look at how they do that thing' and more towards anecdotal humor, comedy, and stand up in particular, very frequently has an individual at the butt end of the joke. With someone like Mulaney that might be a younger version of himself, an annoying kid, a family member, or some odd quirk of society.
But when queer comics and comics of color bring their experiences into their writing, the comedy becomes inherently political by both deriving humor from, and making fun of intolerance anywhere from overt hate crimes to the absurdity of the discomfort of others.
While comics who don't personally live these experiences can still make comedy about these topics, and often do make effective comedy, there's something about the first hand narrative of those experiences that elicit a response out of me more than anything else.
So, because whenever I try to search for stand up albums to listen to on long car drives and only find George Carlin after George Carlin album, here's an incomplete list of some comedians that you should have on your radar.
1. Margaret Cho
I'm starting out this list with someone you should know already.
Margaret Cho is a bisexual icon and the first comedian I ever saw in person. I had listened to her albums for a while and in 2015 I caught her show 'PsyCHO' with my friend Zoe.
She was the creator of the first ever Korean-American family comedy All-American Girl in 1994 which ran for one season and, as Cho says herself, tanked so hard it took 20 years before another show like it, Fresh Off The Boat, got greenlit.
She was being an icon far before I was even born and is still an icon today.
2. Irene Tu.
Moving from a national icon to a local icon, Irene Tu.
Describing herself as "the next (Asian) Ellen DeGeneres" in her Twitter bio, Tu is a Chicago based comic from the Bay Area. While her YouTube presence is limited, she hosts three shows in Chicago and her Twitter makes me happy (when she's not promoting shows that I'm so far away from...
3. Wanda Sykes
Like Cho, if you don't know who Wanda Sykes is, you can go home.
If I was in Sykes's place, I would have run dry of comedy years ago, but Sykes keeps producing and it's still just as amazing.
She is a gay icon initiated the destruction of Roseanne and also voiced a recurring character in the Ice Age films. Get yourself a comic who can do it both.
She's also in Bianca Del Rio's second Hurricane Bianca film, so like, iconic.
4. Gabe Liedman
Moving to mid-level icondom, we have Gabe Liedman. Liedman has some noteable writing credits for shows like Broad City, Brooklynn Nine-Nine, and Inside Amy Schumer.
He's friends with Jenny Slate and I'm jealous.
5. Adam Johnston
Adam doesn't really fit on this list because 1. he's not a stand up, and 2. his queerness rarely finds its way into his content, but gosh darnit he's an icon.
He's a Canadian YouTuber and musician who makes videos in the genre of 'let me trash this movie as hard as possible' but does so in the most theoretically critical way of any YouTuber I watch. His memes are 10/10 and he has an active presence on Twitter.
I don't know if he'd ever describe himself as a comedian, but he's hilarious and has quality content.
There are so many great queer comedians out there, but I'm keeping this list short because writing this brief of bios is grossly over simplifying how great they all are. Maybe I'll expand something into long form for an essay.
Please seek out seek out, follow, and consume the content of some queer creators this month, and frankly all months.
Happy Pride Month!