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Comedy Central’s one-hour comedy special “Out on the Edge” is billed as “the best of alternative comedy with a distinctly gay edge.” Indeed, it feels a lot like a Michigan Women’s Music Festival for girls and boys alike. With its ecclectic line up of stand-up comics, song and dance numbers, and musical acts there truly is something here for everybody, though not necessarily something good.
Hosted by Tony-award winning actor Alan Cumming, most noted for his broadway portrayl as the Emcee in “Cabaret” and films like “The Anniversary Party,” “Out on the Edge” is an hour of hit and miss acts. Cumming himself is one of the misses. He comes across like a displaced Dublin club-kid on E and his stand-up routine suffers from poor timing and stilted delivery with an awful lot of time spent focused on his penis. Those who already love him are bound to find him cute and charming regardless.
“We embrace uncut comedy,” he says in his introduction. “We go back to a time when comics offended, when homosexuals were annoyed not annoying, when artists spoke the truth without the fear of being boycotted.”
As for the performers, Cumming says, “Some of them are gay, some of them are straight, some of them don’t get laid at all.”
The show is at its strongest with the stand-up comics. Jim David is funny, but the transition to his act from the bizarre dance performace of Johnny McGovern as The Gay Pimp is a little awkward. Staying true to the promise of “uncut” comedy, David pokes fun at she-males, the deaf, and abortion protesters.
Lesbian favorite Elvira Kurt is at her best during her short routine. Her immitation of her immigrant mother’s disdain for her fashion choices is hilarious. She also takes on the topic of middle-aged gays and lesbians.
Renee Hicks is the stand-out stand-up here. She takes on gay issues, race issues, and religion from the perspective of an African American lesbian. Her critique is dead-on and she leaves the viewer wanting to see more.
The music of “Out on the Edge” leaves a lot to be desired. There’s a lesbian folk singer comic who plays guitar and sings about being dumped. This is a common theme for funny women with guitars, although her version of the story is a Dear John letter to a man dumped for another woman. Still it seems more like something you’d see at an open mic night at your local coffee shop than on Comedy Central.
BETTY, the house band, is, at best, slightly amusing, but in all honesty not so good. Girl duo The Hazzards lip-sync their song “Gay Boyfriend” which is cute, but that’s about all it is.
Fans of Scott Thompson’s “Kids in the Hall” character Buddy Cole will enjoy his monolouge about everything from gay marriage to the way “Glitter” changed the world. It’s not his strongest showing, but it’s a highlight of the show.
Comedy Central always seems to be at its strongest when it features stand-up comedy. “Out on the Edge” is no exception. Still, the show is an unabashed celebration of all things queer and, funny or not, it’s better to be on the edge than in the closet.