A gay stand-up comedian considers his life through personal essays that also ruminate on problems and paradoxes of modern American culture.
Branum was a born misfit who found early solace in Greek mythology. He especially loved Leto, a beleaguered goddess who taught him the importance of believing in himself when no one else did. Half-Jewish, overweight, and “intellectually aggressive,” the author struggled to find a place in his hometown of Yuba City, where Oklahoma Dust Bowl descendants fired “guns into the air and yell[ed] racial slurs” at Indian immigrants. Branum educated himself about the outside world through reading and watching old sitcoms. Suburban witch Samantha Stephens, of Bewitched fame, became his symbol for the magic he sought in order to escape a hated blue-collar existence. By high school, Branum could no longer deny the desires that had surfaced in his early teens. Still, he remained closeted. He found comfort in friendship with three Punjabi girls trapped into asexuality by the conflicting demands of their culture. At Berkeley, he wrote for the humor magazine, ran for student office as a member of his own party (CUM, the “Cal Undergraduate Masturbators”), and wrote an article about Chelsea Clinton that resulted in a visit from the Secret Service. He attended law school at the University of Minnesota only to realize that he “had no business” becoming a lawyer and mimicking straightness. After graduation, Branum stumbled into adult functionality, discovered his passion for stand-up comedy, and moved to Los Angeles. There, he worked his way into writing jobs for Chelsea Lately and The Mindy Project, all while learning to love himself in West Hollywood, the “ketamine-stoked crucible of shallow gay self-consciousness and derision.” Keenly observant and intelligent, Branum’s book not only offers uproarious insights into walking paths less traveled, but also into what self-acceptance means in a world still woefully intolerant of difference.
Wickedly smart, funny, and witty.