Laugh If You’re Gay: Lesbian Comedian Ashley Gavin Comes to Chicago

Feb. 26 was the last show the New York-based comedian completed after a four-day string of sets, filming her Friday set at The Den for her upcoming YouTube special.

Standup comedian and podcast host Ashley Gavin brought her beloved, angry lesbian humor to Chicago’s Den Theatre from Feb. 23 to 26. 

Feb. 26 was the last show the New York-based comedian completed after a four-day string of sets, filming her Friday set at The Den for her upcoming YouTube special.

“My comedy is ineffective in a room full of lesbians,” Gavin joked during her set. “I’m not going to make the world a better place with this. This is just speed dating, right?” 

The “room full of lesbians” laughed along at Gavin’s set for an hour and a half as she riffed about her relationship experiences, being a New Yorker, the death of her father and being Carnival Cruiseline’s first openly gay comedian. All the while, Gavin masterfully engaged her audience, showing off her comedic crowd work expertise. 

Gavin approached her crowd from perspectives based on her own lesbian identity. She interwove mocking responses from stereotypical “woke” audience members as a bit.

“Lesbian crowds can be pretty upset.” Gavin said, going on to impersonate an offended lesbian. “They’re even pulling back at that joke, like ‘What do you mean? What do you mean we can be upset?’”

She goes on to humor the audience about her dead father and 9/11, walking a sensitive line but winning over the crowd every time. Gavin understands her audience and angles her jokes to shock, only to double back and make the crowd’s anticipated initial responses the joke itself. 

“I’m not actually like this — it’s all a schtick,” Gavin joked. “I’m like a reverse Ellen — mean onstage and nice out there.” 

Gavin made sure to appeal to all crowds by calling them all out individually. Gavin targeted each group within and out of the LGBTQ+ community for the sake of inclusivity. 

Gavin focused in on two men in the front row, giving them a hard time for banter and the sake of comedy. She asked them about their jobs, girlfriends, relationships and sexualities. 

“You look like you sleep in a deep dish,” Gavin said jokingly to one male audience member. This was received with a loud bout of Chicago laughter. 

“She is the only angry lesbian beloved by all, including old, straight, white guys,” Gavin’s website states. During the show, she told her tales from performing for straight, Midwestern crowds on Carnival Cruise Lines as their first openly gay comedian. Gavin said she was only allowed to be gay during the R rated shows but that the straight men usually best understood most of her jokes about being gay.

Most of all, Gavin is known and loved for her “gay dating material” during her shows. She recounts her own dating life and draws humor from relatable, everyday relationship escapades. 

“People think the homophobia is the most difficult part of being gay,” Gavin said. “Homophobia isn’t the hard part. Dating is the hard part.” 

Podcast listener and Ashley Gavin fan Melissa Jones, 25, said they drove three hours from Peoria, Illinois with their partner just to see Gavin’s show.

“Ashley’s raw sense of humor and appeal to different people is what sets her apart from other comics,” Jones said.

In addition to her comedy tours, Gavin hosts two podcasts, both focusing on making LGBTQ+ experiences accessible through vulnerability. 

On “We’re Having Gay Sex,” Gavin brings on guests and alternating co-hosts discussing stories about sex and dating advice as a resource for LGBTQ+ listeners, aiming to normalize queer experiences. The podcast’s website describes it as “honest, vulnerable, disgusting, hilarious.”

“Chosen Family,” with co-hosts Mak Ingemi and Alayna Joy, allows listeners to submit questions about love, life, sexuality and gender to get answers and support they often don’t receive from their birth families. Gavin takes the role of being the listener’s fake gay dad, giving out advice with mom Alayna and baby Mak at the family dinner table. 

Gavin’s tour will continue into August and she has a weekly show every Sunday night at 8 p.m. in New York City. Gavin’s podcasts are available to stream on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and her YouTube channel.

featured image courtesy of Jim McCambridge

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