More often than not, when a gay man claims to be "versatile" it is immediately questioned—and usually followed by a laugh. In the case of actor/comedian Jason Stuart, the word is, well, believable. His varied career has taken him from the merciless stand-up comedy stages as a pioneering "out" comic to dramatic television and films roles. He appears in the new indie film Coffee Date, the ground-breaking film series The DL Chronicles and the upcoming film Big Stan with Rob Schneider as well as recent television work on ABC’s George Lopez, My Wife & Kids, and Fox’s hit House.
Stuart continues to build upon his body of work through a hectic travel schedule while miraculously juggling his personal life. He returns to Chicago Memorial Day weekend as the featured entertainer for the legendary Bear Pride festivities at the Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel. (event details) CP caught up with Stuart as he heads to the Windy City to feed thousands of Bears with another heapin’ helpin’ of laughs.
PJ: You travel so much and have for so many years. How do you still make it enjoyable for yourself?
JS: "I try to rest [laughs]. I try to not overdo. I'm just not as young as I used to be."
PJ: You're currently touring with your Looking for Mr. Right Comedy Tour. Is traveling hard on your personal life?
JS: "I don't know. That is something I seem to know less and less of every year. I'd love to be in a relationship right now."
PJ: I’m reminded of Funny Girl where Fanny Brice struggles with the idea that funny isn’t sexy...
JS: "I just saw that film again recently. I loved it when she said, 'Flo, I need a personal life! You've got a lot of other headliners in the show... I'm going to Nick's. He love's me. I love him. We have to be together. That's enough.'"
PJ: Do you ever deal with that issue when you’re dating?
JS: "It presents a problem at times. Yes, it does."
PJ: Who is your "Mr. Right"?
JS: "My Mr. Right is a guy who cannot walk past me without touching me. I want him to be tall, dark and handsome. I also want him to own a car but not live in it. He should be smart, sexy and OUT... You know, a bad boy in the bedroom and a nice guy in real life."
PJ: Anything else?
JS: "What else? My God, I want him to return my calls. [laughs] And I want him NOW. I’m tired of waiting." [laughs]
PJ: You’ve done it all—film, TV, stand-up, theatre, comedic and dramatic roles. Has a varied career work in your favor or against you?
JS: "Definitely in my favor, yes. I think these days you have to be known for more than one thing—you don’t have a choice."
PJ: You’ve been out longer than most actors in the business. How has that affected your career?
JS: "Sometimes it is just wonderful and I wouldn't have it any other way. And then sometimes it's frustrating when people see you as limited. I don't like that. Sometimes people can't see past it. That can be hard to deal with."
PJ: So, I assume that you would encourage any new actor who is gay to be out early in their career.
JS: "I think there is no other way. The closet is just an awful life. Think about it. What is it like being in a closet? You're standing on the shoes. You’re behind the clothes. You've got hat boxes hitting you in the head. It's very dark. Once in a while someone opens the door and there’s a crack of light then they close it again... It really is awful."
PJ: After years in comedy, you know funny. What is still considered taboo in comedy?
JS: "I really think you need to stick to things that you know. That way you can’t be considered as picking on another group which makes it comfortable for you and the audience. You should definitely stick to your own experiences."
PJ: What makes you laugh?
JS: "Things that I don’t expect or see coming—that makes me laugh. I’m pretty open about it. In fact it can even be subtle. I’m not necessarily a fan of slapstick... If it makes me laugh, it's funny."
PJ: Is gay still the new black?
JS: "Yes! Definitely—especially after the release of Brokeback Mountain and all of the attention it received. It took me by surprise. I was very, very pleased.
In fact, I saw the film twice. The first time I was upset that he died at the end, and after the second time it completely wrecked me."
JS: "Because it is our history. I finally got it... It's what could have happened to us. For instance, when Ennis goes off to the side and doesn’t cry but instead he chokes. That to me was just unspeakable. It was so painful to watch and I thought, my God, I hope we never go back to that kind of a life. And I hope that I can do something to prevent that. It is just heartbreaking to have a life like that—to never have love, and when you do, to never have it consummated emotionally not to mention physically."