Bob Smith interviews fellow standup Eddie Sarfaty
LAUGH IT UP, FUZZBALL
KD Studio Theater, 2600
Stemmons Freeway. Oct. 25
at 7:30 p.m. $25. 214-630-5491
Gay guys have often been called "a little funny in the head," but comedian Eddie Sarfaty embraces it. His book, Mental, has been praised by the likes of Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Cunningham as laugh-out-loud funny.
Sarfaty brings that sense of humor — and his disarming looks — to Dallas for a show on Sunday featuring special guest Paul J. Williams.
Fellow queermedian Bob Smith — the first openly-gay comic to appear on The Tonight Show — interviewed Sarfaty. Here’s their exchange:
Smith: I loved Mental! It’s really witty and smart — and believe me, if it was a bad book, I’d be meaner to you than Kathy Bates was to James Caan in Misery. Sarfaty: Well thank God! Can you untie me now?
Oh, all right. Seriously, your book received great blurbs from Michael Cunningham and Edmund White. What was it like sleeping with them? Well they’re both so great with language that it was no surprise that their dirty talk was fantastic, although when I was IMing with them on Manhunt, I was really shocked by Edmund’s poor grammar: It’s "Who’s your daddy?" not "Whose your daddy?"
What possessed you to write Mental? A concerned friend said I was spending too much time cruising guys online, and that if I was going to spend all that time typing, I might as well get paid for it.
Sell us about your book. I’m sorry, that was very promo-sexual of me. I meant tell us. It’s a collection of nine comic essays. I worry when I describe it as essays because they sound like ninth grade English assignments.
That explains that book report on the Lord of the Flies in chapter 4. Please, Lord of the Flies was a picnic compared to the experiences I write about in Mental. I wrote about them to show how it’s possible to get through anything, no matter how painful, with humor.
Save that B.S. answer for Larry King — what’s the real reason you wrote it? I really wrote it to get back at people who’ve been mean to me.
You’re not afraid to tackle uncomfortable subjects, from funny to serious. That’s the way life really is — the serious and silly all mixed together. Difficult situations are much easier to deal with if you can laugh, and funny things are funnier when there’s something important at stake. Dealing with my dad’s illness on our trip to Paris would have been a nightmare, and made writing about it far too upsetting, if my family hadn’t been able to crack jokes.
Writing a book is different from writing a stand-up routine. How would you compare the two genres? I have the attention span of a Yorkshire terrier and the idea of sitting still long enough to write a book seemed torturous. Writing standup material is hard, but you can do it at your own pace, developing each line over a long period of time.
Once I started writing the book however, I realized how helpful my standup experience was. Look, I’m a neurotic Jew who’s my own worst enemy and who never thinks that anything he does is good enough. So, if I’m happy with it, it must be good.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 23, 2009.