LGBTQ comedy show celebrates National Coming Out Day

Aidan Park felt bulldozed by anxiety before his first appearances as a young, gay, HIV-positive comedian. Even in the early 2010s, he said, the chances of an audience accepting him felt a little “bad.”

But it was his friend and co-cartoonist Camille Solari who lured him onto the stage during her first real stand-up set in LA and gave him the support — and the friendly push — he needed to embrace all about himself, including being HIV-positive.

“When I started comedy, I told it [Camille] ‘I’m nervous because I’m gay,’ which was still not accepted at the time, and she just said ‘honey, we’m not in the’ 80s anymore, don’t worry, ‘Park said.

Years later, the support of the tight LGBTQ + comedy community in LA Park and Solari inspires them to move on while still giving back. Since they started comedy, both comics have blossomed into veteran headlines. Park became a bestselling author with his book “The Art of Being Yay!” and Solari created and stars in his own show called “Charlie” on Amazon Prime Video. Ahead of National Coming Out Day on Monday, the two comics teamed up as headliners and producers of “Straight-Ish Talk,” a benefit show in support of the SoCal chapter of LGBTQ + advocacy group Free Mom Hugs on Saturday at the Comedy Chateau in North Hollywood. For those who are hard pressed to find an LGBTQ + showcase that is loud, proud and fun, Straight-Ish Talk can be the perfect breath of rainbow-toned fresh air this weekend.

Comedians Aidan Park and Camille Solari

Aidan Park and Camille Solari are hosting the “Straight-Ish Talk” comedy show this weekend at Comedy Chateau.

(From Aidan Park and Camille Solari)

“Some of the clubs tend to have a pretty diverse lineup,” said Solari, who has thrown many LGBTQ + comedy nights, including Glam in La La Land on Hollywood Improv. “In the past, I have wanted our shows to be quite different, including dragon artists or burlesque dancers. This is the first thing we have been doing for a while and now we have an advocacy group involved so we can support them, ”said Solari.

The comedy night highlights sass and skills from local comics Iggy Love Sky, Miguel Rojas, AB Farrelly, Tuesday Thomas, Deven Bouchet, Billy McCartney and Felix McNulty.

Valencia Foster, SoCal chapter president of Free Mom Hugs, said the support from the show will help fund their mission to send care packages of clothes, stuffed animals and other FMH swags to their loved ones who donated to the organization during the pandemic. “We are forced to think about what we can do to go beyond a hug,” Foster said. “I would never have thought that one of the things we did would have been to adapt to comedians who want to do a show to raise money for us.”

Foster and her husband, Rodney, who also volunteers with FMH, only got connected to Park and Solari after meeting Park at a local comedy showcase. They hit it off right away and decided to team up to hold a comedy event in favor of Valencia’s chapter of her organization.

Park said events like these allow audiences to get together and also go beyond the celebration of Coming Out Day with friends and family and help guests build lasting LGBTQ + community relationships through comedy.

“We want to show people that there is an opportunity to be happy and happy and live your best life, because once you get out, it doesn’t necessarily feel that way,” the comedian said. “That feeling of isolation, especially in the LGBTQ community, is a big problem, because if people suffer alone, they feel ashamed of it.”

As the parents of a bisexual son, Miles, 23, Fosters joined the SoCal chapter of Free Mom Hugs in 2019 as a way to support him as an ally. Prior to the pandemic, the group was out of action at events like LA Pride, offering hugs to people and hosting gift suites at LGBTQ + events.

Miles stands next to his mother Valencia while his father Rodney Foster smiles in the background

Valencia and Rodney Foster with their son Miles.

(From Valencia Foster)

“When we give a hug to people, some of whom have been totally rejected in the past, you can feel the feeling,” Rodney said. “When you ask them how it feels, they say it just feels like pure love.”

Since “Straight-Ish Talk” aims to move the community’s acceptance needle, it helps to look elegant while doing so.

The entire night of stand-up performances will offer VIP treatment for all attendees, including setting up a red carpet, an FMH gift package and refreshments from food and wine sponsors.

For Solari, the biggest reward is to let the authenticity of the comics shine through. “It’s really therapeutic to see all these different kinds of individuals go up there and do comedy, especially if they’re telling the truth and they are not hacks,” she said. “They talk about what they’ve been through and put it in joke form.”

Park said getting human experiences related through laughter can make National Coming Out Day feel like the start of a new life.

“We accept you for who you are and you do not have to be ashamed of it,” Park said. “That’s the message we really want to bring out there.”

‘Straight-Ish Talk’

Saturday, October 9 at Comedy Chateau, 4615 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Doors / red carpet / gift starts at 17:30, show at 19, – $ 40. 21+

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