Guy Branum in Meltdown (Photo courtesy of Comedy Central)

Comedian and actor Guy Branum brings the laughs to TBRU

RICH LOPEZ | Staff writer

Guy Branum has had the luxury of some downtime lately, but he is ready for a busy weekend. The comedian/writer/actor is heading to Dallas for this year’s Texas Bear Round-up, and he’s got his work cut out for him.

Branum, who you may know from his recent appearance in the Billy Eichner film Bros, will headline TBRU’s Saturday night with a night of standup. But his talents have been seen and appreciated for a good while. He’s the creator of truTV’s Talk Show the Game Show, a writer for The Mindy Project and Billy on the Street and also a vocal advocate for queer representation and body positivity and acceptance. He dropped his My Life as a Goddess memoir in 2018.

He’s also been all over the internet and Twitter with his criticisms of the Oscar-winning film The Whale, which he feels has underlying tones of homophobia and fatphobia.

Before Saturday’s performance at TBRU, Branum spoke with the Dallas Voice about entertaining a bunch of bears for the first time and the lessons he learned from Bros (as both a queer person and a co-producer and cast member) and the Oscars last weekend.

Dallas Voice: Now that the Oscars are over, how have your days been? No more Whale? Guy Branum: Well they are just over. I have been spending a lot of time posting all that. I got to go to one of the Oscar parties, and that was fun. But it’s springtime in Los Angeles now, and people are pitching shows and getting ready for tentpole season.
Anything on the horizon for you? I’m not working on a show right now. I’m not touring. I’m just trying to have a nice life right now in between all that.

You certainly seem to be everywhere lately with movies and comedy shows and other projects. How is it to have some downtime? I do enjoy going from one thing to another, but it’s been great having that period of time right now. I’m writing, and I get to hang out with cool, fun people. I’m getting to go to Dallas.

Have you performed in Dallas at all? I have never performed there before. As a gay comic, I don’t really perform in the South that much. And with Texas, I’ve been to Austin, but, outside of Moontower or South By Southwest, I haven’t been anywhere else there.

Now, have you performed for all bears (and the people who love them) before? So my first headlining gig was at a resort in Guerneville, Calif. That was nearly 20 years ago, and it was kind of a very bearish resort. But I’ve never done an official bear event like this. That first paid gig involved so many pats on the belly which was a beautiful thing.

You’re vocal about fatphobia and body positivity and, of course, the issues with The Whale film. How is it to then go into an event such as TBRU where body positivity is essentially key? I like the idea of going somewhere with that much shared understanding. It’s really nice. Going to do any gay event is really cool. I love and respect our community. But it’s going to be fun going somewhere where different body types are celebrated. So many who look like me aren’t very visible or maybe not very welcome all the time.

Will you be partaking in the entire Round-up? I am there for the weekend.

You were in Bros and also a co-producer of the film. Looking back now, what were some of the lessons you learned about that experience? I think the biggest lesson was that they needed to express more clearly that it was a fun, funny movie. A lot of the promotion centered on it being historic and important when we only had this goofy little rom-com. I think it made people feel like seeing it would be homework.

What was more important to you as a gay man and as someone in the industry — the box office or the significance of that movie? It didn’t make any money, and that’s because straight people didn’t go see it. If they had understood it was just a funny movie, it might have taken the pressure off. But they are the ticket-buying public, and we learned that lesson the hard way.

For gay men, there was a different kind of pressure. I don’t think we’re used to seeing ourselves represented in such a big way. We’re used to the niche, indie stuff that’s often marginalized with simplified characters. All that led to an uncomfortable situation.

Someone told me, “We don’t need Bros, we have M3gan; we have Tar.” There was frustration that the two main characters were cis white gay guys. But also we should be able to tell stories about ourselves. I definitely felt represented by that film.

That I got to be big and fat and gigantic as I am who is fun and has a sex life — like. I fucking am that! And you don’t see that often. I’m so used to an industry that doesn’t understand where I can fit into a story.

Shifting back to TBRU, how are you crafting this standup show? It’s good to be able to have an audience who I can speak to with my whole identity. Most of the time, I’m in front of a mostly straight audience. Getting gay audiences though — it’s always fun to have those jokes and lingo that I know people will know.

Any expectations? I think people think gay, fat guys should just stay home and know our place. This is the opposite. Being validated matters. Taking your shirt off here is our political act.

Guy Branum performs at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Hyatt Regency Dallas. $25 for TBRU registrants; $30 general public.