Theatre Preview: Laugh and learn with the Stand Up Homo

Gay issues were a continuous source of controversy in the media, courts and over water coolers for the past several years. At the forefront of court battles across the country are gay marriages, while lobby groups nip at politicians to increase and expose inequality issues for the gay community. It seems everyone has something to say about homosexuality these days. Nathan Cuckow is no different with his one man show Stand Up Homo. Well, there is one difference–his queer foray is actually entertaining.

Cuckow grew up in a Mormon household, but rejected the church at age 12. His parents obviously weren’t very happy with this development, but eventually supported him in his choice to question his ideals. Another shocker for his Mormon parents followed, with the revelation of his homosexuality. But after things settled, Cuckow attended the American Musical Academy, later moving onto the National Actors’ Theatre. In the late ’90s Cuckow returned to Canada and began work in Edmonton where he debuted Stand Up Homo at the Fringe Festival in Edmonton.

Written and performed by Nathan Cuckow, it’s a multi-character adventure exploring the life of a stand-up comic who happens to be a closet homosexual raised in the Mormon Church. This might sound vaguely familiar, but amazingly enough the show is not autobiographical.

“There are perspectives and ideas that come from me, but it’s very fictional,” explains Cuckow. The story revolves around the unnamed comic performing his act, while random family members and associates barge on stage to interject their two cents.

“The show is about perspective, and how people see things differently,” says Cuckow.

He explains how homosexuality, or whatever sexuality you’re talking about, is really simply based on your perspective. Lines don’t need to be drawn. Perception can be finding a joke hilarious while others find it offensive. Still lot has changed since the Fringe show in 2002.

“The Mormon angle is definitely a new thing I’ve introduced,” confides Cuckow. His original show was religiously generic. The second time around, he explicitly made the religion Mormon. This relates Nathan more to his own creation, but don’t think he’s out to harass the good old Latter Day Saints.

“No one’s safe,” laughs Cuckow. “I try to draw correlation to all different forms of prejudice and bigotry, and how they’re all essentially the same thing.”

The main character’s father in the show, a Mormon bishop, explains the persecution the Mormon Church has endured since its inception. Despite his rejection of the Church, Cuckow still feels it’s necessary to present all sides of the conflict. Diverse perceptions are important, as well as diverse audiences. “[The show] works best when there is a very diverse crowd,” says Cuckow.

One would expect a large gay turnout for an event like this, but according to Cuckow it doesn’t have to be that way. All the different characters aid in, not only explaining all possible sides of the issues, but getting all different types of audiences to laugh at the jokes.

So if you feel overwhelmed by all the gay kerfuffle and negative connotations surrounding the whole conflict, why not check out Stand Up Homo. He’s understanding, personable and actually funny. Of course that’s only one person’s perception, Nathan Cuckow on stage will let you see how you feel about it.

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