Fabulous Funny Folks

Meet these queer comedians of Pittsburgh!

This city has a lot of options for entertainment but if you’re tired of musicals with sad singing French folks or grown-ups dressed like cats, maybe you should switch up your routine and support your local live comedy scene. Bars, libraries, coffee shops, every night of the week, there’s comedy happening somewhere in Pittsburgh. There’s probably something hilarious happening right now and you’re missing it! Let’s be real, the tickets for these shows are probably gonna be much cheaper than Hamilton and no one’s going to roll their eyes cuz you wore a Steelers jersey to the show. So get to know some of our favorite queer comedians and where you just might find them slinging jokes!

Georgia Warder (she/they)

Fave Venue: Don’t Tell Comedy Pittsburgh shows.

Stand-up Standout: Sarah Silverman

Why comedy? My coming out experience was rough so I listened to Ellen’s interviews with Oprah after she came out as well as her specials. Comedy really helped me through that time in my life.

Must-see: Happiest Season.

Your act: Being a lesbian is part of my act, but only because it’s part of my life experience. I’m happy to include that part of my life, but I never try to make it the focus of the set. I want audiences to laugh first and foremost. I really enjoy performing on rural shows where some of the crowd might not be comfortable with queerness, but I love it if I can get them to laugh at a queer topic that they may not have known before coming to the show.

Asher O’Briant (they/he).

Fave Venue: Alaska. Middle of the night. Snowed in at a bar.

Stand-up Standout: Margaret Cho.

Why comedy? I’ve always loved writing, but performing became a necessary evil in showing off my thoughts.

Must-see: For anyone who hasn’t seen But I’m a Cheerleader, you’re rooting for the wrong team.

Your act: My set is not all queer-coded. I do try to lull cis-het audience members into a sense of security, before pulling the rug out from under them. I think it helps to not only normalize all identities but also to bring comedy to subjects that are treated as tragedies. Coming out can be sad and scary, but there’s so much laughter and joy to these experiences that is missing from the mainstream media. I mean, what’s funnier than going through puberty…twice?

Whitney Mor (she/her)

Fave Venue: Brillobox.

Stand-up Standout: Bernie Mac.

Why comedy? Storyteller comedians inspired me. As a writer, comedy combines the two things I love most: writing and laughing.

Must-see: Broad City.

Your act: I haven’t run into a lot of audiences that have taken issue with me being gay which is a blessing. I mostly run into comics with that issue.

Matty Malloy (he/him)

Fave Venue: Fat Cat, Bottlerocket Social Hall, and Arcade Comedy Theater.

Stand-up Standout: Lisa Lampinelli, Ali Wong, Nicole Byer, Wanda Sykes, Bianca Del Rio, Fred Armisen.

Why comedy? I performed theater all my life but NYC had her way with me and I was tired from the endless audition/rejection cycle. Once I ended up in Pittsburgh, it seemed like the perfect time to try stand-up and find a way to reignite my love of performing.

Must-see: Special, Bonding, and Search Party. I also love the podcast Las Culturistas with Matt Rogers and Bowen Yang.

Your act: As a confused, closeted, gay child growing up at church in a conservative town, I find a lot of humor now looking back on my life. I do get nervous if there is an older, conservative crowd, but I think since I make fun of myself a bit, it invites them to laugh with me AND at me. The one thing I never want to do is cut back queer material to make an audience comfortable. If anything, it should be amped up even more.

Envy Sinn (she/her)

Fave Venue: P Town (Comedy Open Mic every Thursday!)

Why comedy? I’ve always had the idea to pursue comedy but while I was co-hosting a show at Casey’s Draft House, my fellow host Chuck Lewis was really the driving force for finally getting me into doing stand-up!

Must-see: Q-Force. I am a huge fan of adult animation!

Your act: Being a drag queen gave me the confidence to do stand-up. Lots of my comedy tends to be more on the suggestive & raunchy end so my identity does end up in much of my act! It can be very hit or miss with a primarily straight crowd so I might try to deliver a joke differently. That was also a driving factor for why I started hosting an open mic in a queer space so that queer people will have a place to perform with zero judgment.

Michael Buzzelli (he/him)

Fave Venue: Brillobox.

Stand-up Standout: My mentor and friend, Bob Smith, the first gay comedian on the Tonight Show. My friends Gab Bonesso, Teresa Roberts Logan, Melanie White, Chris Duval, and Alan Olifson, who help make me a better comedian. Also, Chrissy Costa makes me laugh. Don’t tell anyone but she has a heart of gold bigger than her gold hoop earrings.

Why comedy? When I was living in Los Angeles, I had written a comedy which I was shopping around. A friend told me the script was funny but I didn’t describe it in a funny way. I found a pitch class but it cost $1,000 so I went with Greg Dean’s Comedy Class for $300 (he taught Whoopi Goldberg, among others). I would learn the same thing – how to tell the story in a funny way – from a cheaper class. So, frugality got me into comedy. After my final exam performance at the Comedy Store on Sunset Blvd, the manager asked me back and I fell in love with the format. I could write a joke that day and get feedback the same night. I still write screenplays, books, articles, etc., but nothing is as immediate as comedy.

Your act: My identity is a big factor in my act. To quote Harvey Fierstein, “I am who I am.” I am a storyteller first and foremost, but comedy works best when it comes from a place of truth. I’ve had very supportive audiences. Deep down, people come out to comedy to laugh. They want to enjoy themselves and whether a comedian is black or white, gay or straight, we can all find common ground.

Brandi Roberts (she/they)

Fave Venue: St. Clair Social & Arcade Comedy Theater.

Stand-up Standout: Jim Carey, Debra Wilson, Wanda Sykes, Whoopi Goldberg, Sam Jay, Dave Chappelle, Yamaneika Saunders.

Why comedy? It was a natural course of events. In high school I was voted “Class Clown.” I used comedy to heal myself from trauma. But, the major push was when I dropped out of college in 2015 and one of my old managers at Chili’s kept encouraging me. One day, I went for it and actually signed up for an open mic. Well, here we are eight years later and counting. Thanks Ronnie!

Must-see: The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love.

Your act: My sexuality is a part of my act but I try not to focus on it too much, because I have many places of sectionality in my identity. I think it is important to highlight for visibility and to use it as a means to dismantle outdated stereotypes that hinder the minds of those that do not necessarily support the community due to a lack of understanding.

Abbey Hannis (they/she)

Fave Venue: My friend’s couch while we watch Glee!

Stand-up Standout: Gianmarco Soresi. Really relatable for old theater kids.

Why comedy? I never really wanted to pursue comedy, I’m an actor first. But a great friend of mine really pushed me to do it and I never looked back!

Must-see queer comedy: Our Flag Means Death.

Your act: Comedy is one of the best ways to be yourself and my queerness has given me a lot of inspiration for my comedy. I’ve had plenty of crowds where ‘gay topics’ were not something they were interested in. You just gotta remind yourself that sometimes the jokes aren’t bad, it just isn’t the right crowd for you.

Jo Crawford (they/them)

Fave Venue: Casey’s Draft House.

Stand-up Standout: I gotta go with Maria Bamford. Although, I think a lot about Steve Martin’s approach to stand-up in the 70’s. Locally, Georgia Warder is dedicated, funny, and a really sweet person. She makes West Virginia look…better. Envy Sinn is an absolutely electric drag performer/comic/host. She saw me perform once and told me I was a non-binary icon. I was like “dawg, you just hosted while pole dancing. I am OK.” You’ve also got Slater Williams who’s out here doing music and comedy. Until Slater, I’d never met anyone who was so excited to tell me that they’re also non-binary!

Why comedy? Anything that showcased a more abstract and/or absurd style was absolutely my vibe (Newgrounds, SNL, Comedy Central, & Adult Swim). So to this day, my mom still doesn’t understand my sense of humor. Also, I owe quite a bit to early Chappelle (ironic, I know) and Tina Fey. But a special shout-out to Patton Oswalt for showing me that comics can make a whole career out of being absurdist nerdy oddballs.

Must-see: Rocky Horror Picture Show (live). But I’m a Cheerleader. The Golden Girls.

Your act: I lean more deadpan so when I talk about my queer perspective, it becomes this understated thing that doesn’t conflict with my desire to talk about something like that Tupac hologram and how solemn it must be to live out the rest of its existence on someone’s thumb drive.

Joe Esch (he/him)

Fave Venue: Bottlerocket Social Hall and Bryant Street Barber Shop.

Why comedy? Jeff Foxworthy’s Golden Corral sponsorship.

Stand-up Standout: The aforementioned Jeff Foxworthy.

Must-see queer comedy: The Other Two, Bottoms, Los Espookies.

Your act: My identity factors in a bunch but I don’t think that’s exclusive to me or even queer comics in general. Just a consequence of a very individual-oriented format. For the most part, it’s been pretty successful. Part of being a good stand-up comic is being able to relate with all kinds of people who aren’t necessarily like yourself.

Abigail Elias (she/they)

Fave Venue: St Clair Social!

Stand-up Standout: Big Jay Oakerson, Steph Tolev, Sarah Sherman, Gabby Lamb and John Mulaney.

Why comedy? I love making people laugh. As a kid, I would fixate on what I said or did to make people laugh so I could do it again. On a more insane note, I matched with my therapist’s son on Tinder one time and while retelling the story, five different people told me to try stand-up. And so I did!

Must-see: But I’m A Cheerleader.

Your act: My vibe gives ‘gay’ to gay people and most women, but not to the primarily straight white men in the audience. I’m someone whose style leans hyper femme so when I pop out saying ‘I like women and also have a boyfriend,’ it ruins some sort of illusion for them. I try to pepper it in, but sometimes it bombs. And that’s okay! Not every flavor of comedy is for every audience.

Roy Gloeckl (he/him)

Fave Venue: My first is still my fave: Bottlerocket Social Hall. Shoutout to Kingfly Spirits, Brillobox, and Willow Station, too!

Stand-up Standout: Robin Williams, Steven Fry, Randy Feltface, Gianmarco Soresi, Sarah Millican, Larry Dean.

Why comedy? As the great Roger Rabbit said, “My whole purpose in life is to make people laugh.” I’ve been writing silly things since childhood, I did theater in high school and college, so this just seemed like a natural next step for a snarky smart ass like me.

Must-see queer comedy: The Birdcage. Harley Quinn animated series. Schitt’s Creek.

Your act: Every time I mention that I do comedy, someone says, “oh that’s terrifying, you’re so brave, etc.” As someone with major anxiety, you would think I’d agree but, I’m going to confess to you, Qburgh reader, being on stage is the one time I feel like myself. I get that mic in my hand and the fear is gone. It’s a beautiful thing and I hope everyone, especially you, finds that one thing they are simply meant to do.

Roy Gloeckl resides in the southern hills of Pittsburgh, performing communications specialties for a local university. He is a lifelong gaymer who has yet to “catch ‘em all.” He is an actor who wants to be a cartoon. And yeah, he totally has a favorite dinosaur. Follow him on Instagram and tell him yours.