On this subdued Pride Weekend, when all the traditional marches, parades, and celebrations have been virtually transformed, one out, gay comedian has found new ways to keep us laughing through the darkest of times. He’s hysterically side=splitting funnyman Ike Avelli, whose raunchy, ribald, and often very human stand-up has ticked funny bones from coast to coast, and flyover country, too. Ike discovered his comedic talents in 2009, when he did an impromptu routine at his company’s holiday party, and never looked back. For the past five years, he’s toured America doing his signature show, 50 Shades Of Gay, which comes back home to NYC’s Triad Theater on August 8th for a special fifth anniversary performance. Joining Ike at this famous venue are film star and cabaret impresario Tym Moss, super drag sensation Jacqueline Dupree, and actor Sam Oz Stone. But you don’t have to wait another month to experience Ike’s madcap hijinks.
For nearly four months, as we’ve struggled to adjust to the life-changing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ike has been bringing much-needed stress relief to people everywhere each Saturday evening, with a virtual Zoom version of 50 Shades. Each variety show features special guests from different arenas, such as model, comedienne, and “pandemic chef” Wendy Stuart Kaplan, global online radio hosts Jimmy Star and Ron Russell, and current Miss Fire Island Zola Powell. “I wanted to do something everyone could enjoy without leaving home,” Ike says of his quarantine-inspired diversion. “I think it helps a lot.” In a time of uncertainty, Ike’s regular broadcast offers a place to unwind among a friendly crowd and discover new personalities.
Although in-person Prides have been cancelled or postponed since early spring, Ike looks ahead to a renewal of onstage in the coming months — COVID conditions permitting. “We were originally supposed to be in Chicago this weekend for 50 Shades,” Ike notes, “But then the lockdowns began. Quarantine was a cloud with a silver lining, though, as Ike began developing new material, some of which the jokester has tried out with his Zoom audience. “I’m always revising my show,” Ike reflects. In 2018 BC (Before Coronavirus), Ike penned a delightfully tongue-in-cheek comedy memoir, A Year In The Life Of Ike Avelli, And It Ain’t Pretty, which is doing brisk business on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other fine booksellers. The book is pure Ike, full of self-deprecating humor, with a poignant touch or two.
As some parts of the country gingerly take one step forward and others take two steps back in dealing with the plague, Ike continues to offer the best remedy of all, laughter, through this Pride Week and beyond. It’s been the salve we all needed, and have come to cherish as we anticipate better days to come!