A Rainbow of Smiles

You don't have to be homosexual to be hilarious. It helps, though.

Michele Balan, Susan Jeremy and Eddie Sarfaty are three New York-based comics set to headline the Ninth Annual Comedy Gay-la, a standup comedy blowout to benefit KBDI Channel 12.

While being a card-carrying member of the sexual minority doesn't necessarily make one funnier, the accompanying angst has created fodder for these comedians.

Sarfaty still recalls coming out to his parents. "They found out I was gay when my mom found my diary -- opened it right up to 'Marine Corps fantasies.' She swears she came across it by accident, that she wasn't snooping -- just straightening up my lingerie drawer," quips Sarfaty.

Annoying parents. Career foibles. Boyfriend/girlfriend gripes -- all stuff that audiences, gay or straight, can relate to. Balan, Jeremy and Sarfaty touch on topics relevant to comedy fans of all persuasions, as told from the gay and lesbian perspective.

Gay-La organizers, including staff from KBDI and co-sponsor Out Front Colorado, picked these comics for their ability to keep the laughs coming and to fill seats on behalf of the Denver PBS station.

"As a public-TV station with federal funding cuts, special events help us raise money for programming," says KBDI's Sam Safarian. As viewers can attest, KBDI's programming can be described in one word: "diverse."

As part of that diversity, Safarian's station has long been a voice for Denver's gay and lesbian community. KBDI's lineup of gay-and-lesbian-oriented shows like Colorado Outspoken, In the Life and Under the Pink Carpet, cover news and views that the mainstream media typically shies away from.

"For us, it's not 'cutting edge' -- it's programming," says Safarian. "Everyone has a right at the mike. That's always been Channel 12's stand."

While the Gay-la initially drew criticism from conservative groups, detractors have since dwindled as its popularity has grown, making it one of KBDI's most popular events. Local entertainer Ann Lincoln returns for the fourth year to emcee the evening's hilarity, which is sure to include a few well-delivered zingers.

As the show proves, nothing breaks down barriers like a well-timed belly chortle.

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Erin Kindberg

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