Growing up gay can lead to a somewhat skewed aging trajectory. Sure, we may realize at an early age that we’d rather take a dip in River Phoenix than plunge into Veronica Lake, but putting such things into practice is often delayed until we escape high school.
Then, suddenly, we’re out in the world, aching to make up for those lonely nights of pining after the school quarterback or our sensitive-but-dreamy art teacher.
“Oh yeah, I was almost like a teenager in my 20s,” says Paul Hutcheson. “I didn’t understand about love and relationships much back then.”
As one of the true darlings of the theatre festival world, Hutcheson has spent the last 10 years touring his hilarious and deeply personal one-man shows across the continent. His newest production, Third Time Lucky, is a typically honest and comedic look at aging and growing as he approaches middle age (which, contrary to what some of you may think, is not any time after 22).
“I actually didn’t used to think it was all that different growing up gay,” Hutcheson confesses. “But then in my 30s you get to a level of maturity where you realize it is different, and that you need that sense of real community and not just some watered-down queer life like you see in Modern Family.
“The show is kind of based on my 30s, and all about the concept of threes. When I wrote it, I was taking stock on my life. I was 38 years old and suddenly realized that I’d worked 38 jobs and lived with over 30 people and been in love three times. So I was trying to understand what the number three meant in my life and what being in your 30s really means, especially as a gay man.”
For your average hetero fan of the aforementioned television program, Hutcheson’s uproariously blunt monologues about gay life (and sex) can be quite a shock to the system.
“I’ve been in front of straight audiences in places like Montana or Saskatoon thinking, ‘Oh my God, I’m dead,’” he says. “But you know, generally it’s been really positive experiences. You’re surprised how many people are on your side. I mean, sure, there might be some people who want to cause you bodily harm, but they’re far outnumbered by people who understand or want to understand you.”
That fearless approach to comedy and performance has served Hutcheson well, allowing the former full-time high school educator to switch over to supply teaching in order to tour more – an occasionally daunting prospect for the self-produced artist.
“When you’re starting out, you just have to do everything on your own,” he says. “It’s a huge undertaking.”
Despite living a sort of double life as a festival star and teacher, Hutcheson feels he gets the best of both worlds by juggling careers. After all, teenagers provide a multitude of anecdotes and observations, including Hutcheson’s three essential keys to dealing with the spotty little buggers.
“Always look them in the eye, or they will stare you down,” he advises. “Always apologize when you’re wrong, because you’ll win them forever.
“And when all else fails, kill them . . . with kindness.”
Third Time Lucky
Part of the Gladstone Theatre’s Black Box Set series
March 9 & 10, March 16 & 17 at 10pm
910 Gladstone Ave