Celebrating gay pride with Stuart

WinterPRIDE welcomes Hollywood celeb as headline act of Comedy Night

Whistler is buzzing with the news that one of the most successful - and outrageous - openly-gay, stand-up comedians in the United States is headlining the comedy night for WinterPRIDE's 20th anniversary. But Jason Stuart insists he's just a regular guy.

"I'm still an artist in progress," he told The Question.

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Since coming out in 1993, Stuart has performed his uproarious stand-up routines at many major gay events, comedy clubs and festivals in North America including the Montreal Comedy Festival twice. Embraced by the college circuit, he's become overwhelmingly popular on campuses with his lecture, "Out in Hollywood: Making it to the Middle," that addresses his experience coming out in the entertainment industry.

Also a highly regarded character actor, he's had guest roles on such hit TV shows as Will and Grace, Everybody Hates Chris, House and Entourage, and appearances in numerous films including the award-winning Walk a Mile in My Prada starring Tom Arnold.

"I have to say my roots are being an actor," Stuart said. "An actor - it's like a relationship, it's a beginning, middle and end. It's my love, it's my first love, it's my passion.

"Comedy is like really hot, great sex."

With his signature rapid-fire delivery and take-no-prisoners approach, Stuart's comedic style is known to leave his audiences laughing helplessly as he crosses every boundary of race, gender and sexual orientation.

"I try to be as gay centric to the audience as possible if it's a gay audience, because we really want to talk about ourselves at these kind of events."

Although being gay is not what defines him, Stuart added.

"It's a part of who I am. I think of myself as an artist first. I think of myself as an actor, a comedian, a producer, a bit of a writer - I don't think of myself as one thing."

A powerful advocate for the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community, Stuart is also the founder and current chairman of the first Screen Actors Guild LGBT Committee, which focuses on ending discrimination in the workplace.

"It's hard because people want to constantly stereotype you and it's their job to put everybody in a box so they can cast them," he said. "Our box is a little smaller than others, but we at least have a box - we didn't have a box before.

"Now we exist, we're out there."

Stuart initially heard about WinterPRIDE through gay friends, and asked his agent to find out what it was all about. This will be his first time in Whistler, and his first gay event in Canada.

"You guys from Canada seem to be somewhat ahead of us in the gay world," Stuart said. "You have gay marriage, so my joke on gay marriage in the United States is, 'C'mon straight people you know, it's 2011. If you let us marry each other, we'll stop marrying you.'"

Stuart's show "I'm The Daddy and I Have Candy" takes place at the Whistler Conference Centre next Thursday (Feb. 9) from 8 to 10 p.m. and will be hosted by Vancouver's Drag Diva Symone Says with an opening set by Vancouver comedian Julia Stretch. Tickets are $36 plus tax and available online at www.gaywhistler.com.

For more information on Stuart, including videos and his CD, visit his website at www.jasonstuart.com.

WinterPRIDE 2012 runs from Feb. 5 to 12 and features 65 events over the eight days, including guided skiing and snowboarding, après, nightly theme parties, culinary events and many of the outdoor rec winter activities Whistler has to offer. Entertainment will be provided by prominent artists including cellist Cris Derksen, burlesque artist Burgundy Brixx, Canadian country recording artist Patrick Masse, a number of international touring DJs and more. Visit www.gaywhistler.com for a detailed listing of all events.

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