Understandably, Todd Glass isn’t keen on being pegged solely as a “gay comedian.”
Not that there’s anything wrong with being gay, he adds.
The 49-year-old American comic performs at the McPherson Playhouse on Saturday with the Just for Laughs Comedy Tour. The lineup includes Jon Dore, Demetri Martin and Levi MacDougall.
In June, Glass published his autobiography: The Todd Glass Situation: A Bunch of Lies About My Personal Life and a Bunch of True Stories. It tells the story of his life and career, which includes opening for stars such as George Jones and Patti LaBelle when he was just 18.
Despite a successful career as a comic widely admired by other comedians, the Philadelphia native writes that he concealed his sexual orientation for decades for fear of rejection. That all changed on Jan. 16, 2012, when he came out on Marc Maron’s popular podcast, WTF. Glass says part of his motivation for going public was the suicide rate among gay young people.
“The only thing now is — and it’s all right, I’ll get over it — is when an article comes out and says: ‘Gay comedian Todd Glass.’ I want to go: ‘No, no!’ It happens sometimes. And it’s not what defines me,” he said from Los Angeles recently.
Glass discussed his new book recently on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Conan and The Daily Show. Simon & Schuster approached him about writing his autobiography after the WTF podcast. The minutes leading to coming out on Maron’s show, which gets more than 200,000 downloads an episode, were anxious, Glass recalled.
“I was very nervous. I knew personally it was going to change my life ... [But] it’s all for the better. I’m glad I did it. It was a weight off my shoulders.”
The book also candidly describes the time Glass collapsed after a set at a Los Angeles comedy club in 2010. Comedians including Sarah Silverman came to his aid. Trying to conceal his sexuality, the still-prone Glass winked at Silverman and asked her to contact “Andrea” (really Chris, his boyfriend) with the news.
He had an angioplasty but avoided surgery. Afterward, Glass lost weight and quit a pack-a-day smoking habit. The comic said he feels fine today and requires no medication — aside from taking an aspirin a day.
Glass has performed on NBC’s Last Comic Standing, which made his face familiar across America, as well as other nationally broadcast TV shows. He started doing standup when he was in Grade 11. Just prior, Glass saw a live comedy show and was instantly hooked. Another factor in choosing comedy for a career was his dyslexia, which hindered his progress in school.
Known for his regular-guy persona and ability to shift into free-wheeling improv, Glass is viewed as a comedian’s comedian. He considers the designation an honour, but is a touch uncomfortable with it.
“I don’t want to be a comedian that just makes other comedians laugh. I’m doing it to make audiences laugh,” he said.
What: Just for Laughs Comedy Tour
Where: McPherson Playhouse
When: Saturday, 7 and 9:30 p.m.
Tickets: $53; 250-386-6121