It is LGBT Pride season and queer comics from all over the country are making their rounds at festivals nationwide. There are many LGBT comics but Harvie has the distinction of being the first transgendered comedian in the public eye.
Harvie has had quite a career thus far. In November 2006 he was personally selected by Margaret Cho to be her opening act. Since then he continues to tour with her and has appeared on Comics Unleashed with Byron Allen as well as LOGO’s Wisecracks and One-Night Stand-Up
Most of Harvie’s jokes have to do with his gender and sexual identity. For example, he jokes, “I actually had the great pleasure of coming out to my parents twice. The first time, I was a girl and I said ‘Mom, Dad, I like girls.’ And the second time, I said ‘Mom, Dad, I still like girls and I want to be a dude,’ so you can imagine how that went over.”
This weekend I got a chance to catch up with Harvie at Columbus, Ohio’s Pride Celebration. I am happy to report that you literally cannot find a nicer guy. He was so warm and friendly and genuinely interested in speaking with his grateful fans that look up to him as a transgender role model. Here’s what went down:
AmericasComedy.com: Can you describe Margaret Cho in three words?
Ian Harvey: I can do it in four! Smartest lady I know.
AC : Do you ever get offended when someone plays along with your joke? When you were on Comics Unleashed the woman on the panel said, “I’m not the only woman,” which really isn’t accurate. Were you offended?
IH: No, because people just don’t know what they don’t know. The girl that was on the panel just didn’t know how to talk about it. I think what she should have said was “I didn’t know I was the only one with a vagina.” That would have been accurate. But people don’t discern between vagina and lady and girl and whatever. I would have liked a dinner afterward so that we could talk about how all that shit went down but that’s not going to happen. But no, it doesn’t. I’m more of an educator, not a finger wagger. I could probably help them understand better if we had time to do that but it wasn’t the time or the place for that. It’s one of those “it is what it is” kind of things, I don’t know if I would have changed them anyways. They edited this out, but sitting next to me was this comic, and when I said that I was transgendered and was born a girl, he leaned away from me and, like, couldn’t get far enough away from me. I think his name is Chris Mata. But you know what I love, they actually led me into some good jokes. So, the benefit of that was I got some new material. If it was malicious, then fuck them, I got new jokes and if it wasn’t then we should have had dinner and I could have taught them something.
AC: What role has comedy played in your transition?
IH: God, you know what, its just made my life so much easier. We were just talking to a couple of people here right before you, and I was just saying that it’s hard sometimes when you forget to laugh. So if you have humor, laugh because it’s really hard sometimes. Like, I didn’t know how the hell I was going to pay for my chest surgery, so I wrote a lot about chest stuff. It was very cathartic for me when I finally did have it. I never felt like I was going to kill myself about it, but a lot of people do feel like that, so if you can have a sense of humor about it, it will really help you through. I also transitioned on stage. I had a very public transition. My early tapes were with my big old titties and my girl voice. And I’m never freaked out to watch it, but I just think it’s amazing that that is me – visually. Even the hard stuff was good. And I am grateful for every part. Sometimes, people don’t want the hard stuff, and they deem it bad, but I’ve learned so much from the hard stuff. And I am grateful to be here to talk about it and to do comedy about it. I like to do “edutainment” you learn something and you don’t realize you’re learning something. Afterwards hopefully people will say, “Trans people aren’t at ALL like what I thought, they’re very funny!”
AC: Thanks for taking some time out of your busy schedule to talk with us, Ian.
About the Author: Christine refuses to sing the made up "So good's" in public renditions of "Sweet Caroline" and will ask you at inappropriate times if it is okay for her to pet your dog. You can also follow her on Twitter: @bawdybynature.