by KC Ryan
It’s almost that time again! Obviously, the most wonderful time of the year, Dallas Comedy Festival (DCF) kicks off on Tuesday, March 22. To help you put together your festival schedule, we want to make sure you get to know as many of the fabulous out-of-town acts as possible that will be dropping into Dallas Comedy House.
In my personal opinion, the most important conversations happening right now are LGBT and minority representation in media. And to me, there’s no better avenue for commentary than stand-up comedy.
New York stand-up comic Jamie Pierce is bringing his style to the Dallas Comedy Festival. His act has featured stories about hypochondria, being an Episcopalian boy in a Mormon state, and life as a gay man. And as a fan of all things stage, I was very excited to learn in my research that he performed as a dancer alongside Tony Award-winner Karen Ziemba for a charity event.
I asked Jamie a few questions and tried my best to keep the theatre nerd to a minimum. I did not wholly succeed on that last part, but I regret nothing.
Before you were a stand-up, you were a ballet dancer and a Broadway chorus boy. When did you decide that comedy was something you wanted to try?
As a dancer, you are rarely encouraged to speak, let alone share your thoughts or opinions. The notion of using my brain and expressing myself was intriguing. So I tried it on a whim, just for fun. I never imagined it would turn into a career. But here I am, over a decade later, still yapping away.
How did you find your point of view as a gay comedian in what seems to be an industry heavily dominated by heterosexual men?
It’s great being gay and hanging out in comedy clubs because comedians are so sensitive and respectful toward gay issues. I probably do not need to qualify that previous statement as sarcastic but just to be clear - gay jokes are still alive and well in comedy. I don't object because you need a thick skin in this business, and comedy should be allowed certain freedoms. But like most comics I’m still a white male so, fortunately, I am able to offer this unique perspective, which helps me stand apart from the crowd.
As a fellow musical theatre fan, what shows do you recommend to those poor, unfortunate souls who say, "I don't get the singing out of nowhere thing"? (My poll so far suggests that Hamilton and Avenue Q are winning.)
Hamilton is a game-changer. There is a not a person alive who could resist the magic of that show. I imagine it will convert many people over to our dark side.
What is your advice to young LGBTQIA+ stand up comedians?
Wow, that's really turned into quite the initialism! Our demographic has become so inclusive, we will soon welcome all 26 letters. My advice would be to try and let the focus of your act be that which makes you and your life unique versus just trying to represent a sexual orientation. Specificity is good in comedy no matter who you are. I like to think my material has a gay sensibility but that it wouldn't necessarily transfer easily to another gay comedian. Another thing that attracted me to comedy was that, unlike dancing in the chorus, which is all about homogeneity, comedy is about being distinctive. In other words, different is good.
Jamie Pierce performs on Wednesday, March 23, at 7 p.m. with Katy Evans, Saffron Herndon, and Steven Spinola, and on Thursday, March 24, at 10:30 p.m. with Adam Burke, Tom Devenport, and Clifton Hall.
KC Ryan is currently a Level 5 student at DCH. An office worker by day, she spends her nights writing, improvising, recording podcasts, and having existential crises. She’s a co-host of Parsec Award-nominated podcast Anomaly Supplemental about general sci-fi and fantasy topics. Her greatest achievement so far is convincing her husband to watch Project Runway.