Arts & Entertainment
2 min

STAND UP: sweet, spicy and sometimes stoned

Comedian Darcy Michael keeps it fresh

Darcy Michael works best under pressure. Credit: Promotional photo
Darcy Michael says weight loss has meant gay gain. “It’s funny — the skinnier I get, the gayer I feel,” says the Vancouver-based standup comic and actor. “I guess I’ve gone from a bear to a wolf.”
 
Michael says most people perceive gay men as svelte, chic and never pot-bellied — except, of course, if you’re a bear.
 
But Michael’s great at trampling on perceptions, stereotypes and preconceived notions, effectively challenging his audiences — gay, straight and everything in between — to look beyond the surface.
 
“I don’t know why losing over 70 pounds would make me feel gayer,” he ponders. “I guess it’s just because I’m more flexible now. I’m no longer tired and constantly out of breath. If I’d have known how cute I’d look when I shed all that fat, I would have started at least six weeks ago.”
 
Michael delivers a disarming shtick, often mixing sweet stories about parenting his young daughter with quips about how high he likes to get. The stoner jokes might seem routine, but then he tosses in a gag about being queer, and the audience then knows all bets are off.
 
“I can feel the tangents coming at any time,” Michael says of his creative process. “I might write one or two words down, but I don’t write them out at length. I work best under pressure. I ad-lib a lot. If a routine works, it works, but I do try to keep things as fresh as possible. Sometimes it’s just like verbal diarrhea.”
 
Michael says his own influences are varied.
 
“You know, I like anyone who is doing something different, something that’s their own. I don’t want to hear another straight white guy going on about how much he hates airplane food.” But, he adds, “I don’t watch a lot of standup. I find it influences me and how I do my act, so I tend to avoid it.”
 
Michael acknowledges standup can be cruel and says there are a vast array of topics he won’t touch. “I won’t go to many places. I won’t joke about things like AIDS or cancer. I know there are some comics who really want to go dark and to make people think they’re incredible for having done so. Problem is, if someone’s coming for a good time and they’ve just had a brush with cancer and then I start joking about it, I wouldn’t feel right about that.”
 
Michael says he deeply regretted a joke in which he referred to someone as a midget during an appearance on CTV several years ago. “I felt sick about making that joke. I begged CTV to cut it out, but it got left in. No one complained, but I felt horrid about it. I’m much more conscious of that now. Making fun of something that’s beyond someone’s control isn’t something I do.”
 
A standup comic should do one of two things, argues Michael: “I like comedy that either makes me think or makes me forget. It should be incredibly smart and thought-provoking or incredibly stupid, something that just makes me forget about what my day’s been like and makes me laugh.”
 
Does Michael sense a difference between gay and straight audiences?
 
“I really do enjoy coming out to a straight audience, because you never know how they’re going to react. Most of my audiences are actually usually lesbians. But you never really know how people will react. Inevitably, it’s the biggest, straightest cowboy who comes up after the show and wants to give me a big hug. There’s nothing to be scared of. People are way cooler than we give them credit for.”
 
The Deets:
Darcy Michael performs Fri, Nov 4 and Sat, Nov 5
The Flying Beaver Pubaret
488 Parliament St 
pubaret.com