by Jim Gladstone
Perhaps the most prolific queer quipster working today, Justin Sayre has been writing a new set’s worth of comedy material nearly every month since 2011, when he first presented his topical live act, The Meeting of the International Order of Sodomites (iOS) in New York back in 2011.
Sayre’s shows mix wicked riffs on current issues—from gay marriage and parenthood to the unbearable whiteness of Looking—with homages to timeless gay icons, from Judy Garland to Julie Andrews.
Now a staple of queer Manhattan night life, running at Joe’s Pub between October and May, iOS Q represents just a fraction of Sayre’s output—he relocated to Los Angeles to join the writing staff of Two Broke Girls and has a much-needed young adult book—Husky—about an overweight gay kid being published next month.
For each ‘meetings’ of iOS— which also features guest musical performances—Sayre develops all new material, much of which is filmed in performance and posted to the internet shortly afterward.
“I never mind that the material is out there,” says Sayre, “I like the challenge of doing something new – to always do something creative and move the conversation forward.”
“I see the web as a gift,” Sayre notes, “Its gotten my work out there, and I also take it as a good challenge. When I do a new show, it really has to be new. An audience being familiar with your material can be a trap if they like what you did in the past and want you to do it over and over. I hope I’m building an audience that wants to hear my voice and my perspective, not specific routines.”
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To give the writing for iOS a little more live exposure before it begins its googleable afterlife, Sayre has taken his show on the road, and is now regularly playing in Los Angeles and San Francisco as well as New York. “There are real differences between the audiences in each city,” he says.
“In New York, everyone wants to be on top of everything. They want to be in-the-know and never want to be left out. But things move so fast and I touch on so many topice that sometimes I know I get laughs for jokes that people don’t get. Everyone wants to be in on the joke, because they want to be a part of it.”
“When I started to do the show in Los Angeles, it was a change, but not in the way that I expected. The audiences are cooler when you start out, because everyone is in the entertainment industry. They will wait until you reallyb bring it. They don’t seem to care as much about the content or the references in the jokes—they want to hear a distinctive point of view and see why you’re different or special.”
“In San Francisco, everyone wants the show to be fabulous. They’re so glad to be there, and they’re so glad that I’m there. Last time I was in San Francisco, people came up to me saying, ‘Oh, thank you so much for coming here!’ I mean really? It’s a gay-themed show and this is San Francisco, not some backwater! But there’s this gregarious feeling there—the audience wants to take me out for drinks after the show. ”
For those audiences outside of the three cities on his regular circuit, Sayre’s online videos and his podcast, Sparkle and Circulate, will soon be supplemented by The Gay Agenda, a debut comedy album featuring favorite routines, recorded live over the first few years of iOS X.
The Meeting of the International Order of Sodomites convenes the Oasis in San Francisco this Saturday night, August 1. www.sfoasis.com
A new season of The Meeting begins at Joe’s Pub in New York on September 27. www.joespub.com