Sparkle Hour! Is Critics Choice on Gapers Block!

I am so proud of this review. And I totally agree.

Comedy Fri Nov 30 2012

Critic's Choice: Sparkle Hour! at The Annoyance

Sparkle Hour! Poster.jpgA few months ago, an editor at a newspaper I used to work for sent me a Gchat message asking me to write my coming out story for an article she was compiling for "National Coming Out Day." Coming out stories are still important, because, let's face it, no matter how "open" people are "becoming," saying you aren't straight is a thing.

My ex-editor's article was supposed to be part of a piece about LGBT writers and what it means to "come out." That's nice, I thought, as I typed "I don't think I can make the deadline." I told her that I didn't really have the time to write anything, but the real reason was that I didn't know what to say. In today's no-fat-no-soy-civil-union-app-life, I wondered what I could add to the conversation. Luckily for us, Philip Markle has plenty to say about it in his glittery one-person show Sparkle Hour! at the Annoyance Theatre.

I love a good gay comedy; I think it takes a lot of blue-balls to get up in front of an audience and queen out and not seem like a caricature.

More importantly queening out on stage is hard to do RIGHT because it's what a lot of people expect. Oh look a gay guy is making cock jokes! It's the idea that anything gay has to be overtly GAY. You know, like listening to Ke$ha's new song "Die Young" on repeat. There's a very specific knack that some performers have -- in this case Markle -- at doing gay comedy in a way that isn't six-days-at-the-gym superficial. To me, this is a balance that he brilliantly handles.

In Sparkle Hour! Markle starts out by telling us a little about his ga(y)mer life -- he used to (maybe still does?) play EverQuest and was apparently at one point a pretty big topic on some message boards. While I have never been a fan of these types of online games, I thought his story was interesting, because it shows the effect technology has had on the way marginalized people form communities. There are a lot of endearing nerd-jokes in this part of the show, and I loved how he explains creating his own personal worlds.

Markle is a huge talent -- he mixes storytelling, original songs, and improv to give a fully realized perspective on the experiences he's sharing. For some transitions, he plays the keyboard. He can really write some catchy songs, and I've been singing his "Live Epic" song in my head since the show. Can I haz on iTunes soon, pleez?

The show isn't just about coming out, Markle also talks about what turns him on, finding his "Fairy fagmother," and dating -- one of my favorite scenes was his "Dummy" date, which wasn't just hilarious, but, for me, cathartic.

The show's overall epic message is: Do you. I firmly hold the belief that you can never have too many "Be Yourself" messages. His poignant storytelling abilities make "Sparkle Hour!" a gay-show that can be enjoyed by anyone (well, probably anyone 18+). When I was asked to talk about my coming out, I didn't know what to say, but Markle's story hits all the right notes.

I want to give a quick shout-out to the Annoyance, who has been putting up a lot of LGBT-themed or -friendly comedy. A lot of my LGBT-friends actually don't like going to comedy shows, because they feel like a lot of the gay punch-line stuff is gross and makes them uncomfortable. With the shows Sparkle Hour!, Steamwerkz: The Musical (which I haven't seen but have heard is great), and recently Wes Perry's Don't Act Like a Girl, the Annoyance is a theater that isn't afraid to get gay.

Sparkle Hour! will play on Sunday nights at 8PM until December 9. The Annoyance Theatre is located at 4830 N. Broadway. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online.

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