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VIDEO: Transgender funnyman Ian Harvie hopes to produce first-ever mainstream cable comedy special

PORTLAND, Maine -- Back in January 2002, Ian Harvie had never considered comedy as a career option.

Then one day, something very serendipitous happened … it was something so random, but so significant, it would change his life in many ways.

Harvie got a postcard in the mail from a man named Tim Ferrell, advertising a local comedy writing workshop. He's not sure how Ferrell got his name or address, but after kicking the idea around a little while, he decided to take the class.

"Tim Ferrell brought me to the dance," Harvie told San Diego Gay & Lesbian News.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Transgender "Super Hero"

In January, it will be the 10th anniversary of Harvie's graduation from Ferrell's class, and he couldn't think of a better time to film what he hopes will turn into the first-ever transgender comedy special to be broadcast on mainstream cable network television.

He's calling it "Super Hero" and it will be filmed in front of a live audience on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012.

This will not only be an anniversary celebration for the transgender funnyman, but a homecoming, as well.

On the production side, first he chose the Portland Stage Company in his hometown of Portland, Maine, as the show's filming location.

Next he put out favor requests to all his old friends and family, those in Los Angeles (but originally from Maine) and still back home in Maine, and is thankful that they have all jumped on board to assist him with whatever he needs leading up to and the day of filming. It will be directed by his friend Liam K. Sullivan, a Boston native who now lives and works in LA.

Despite all the free labor and favors he is cashing in on, Harvie will still have to pay for about $20,000 worth of equipment and space rentals. To fund the venture, he started a Kickstarter.com account, and set a goal for $15,000.

He currently has more than 60 backers and has raised over $4,500 towards that goal. More on how you can help him reach that goal, later.

Joining him on stage in January will be the illustrious Margaret Cho, her oft-side kick Selene Luna and New York's Christine O'Leary. These women are long-time comedy besties of Harvie's and have been pitching in around the greater Los Angeles area lately, along with various other funny ladies, to join Harvie on stage and bring awareness to his project. The shows are not fundraising efforts, themselves, but Harvie will gladly accept donations if you attend and wish to do so.

Here are some of the places you can see still Harvie and his besties perform in the coming weeks around California: On Dec. 2-4, Cho, Luna and Ian will perform at the Improv in Brea, Calif.; on Dec. 7, find Ian with Giggle-n-Grind at the Improv in West Hollywood, Calif; on Dec. 9, you can find Ian up in San Francisco, performing with We are Not Saints at the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy. For more information about these dates, click HERE.

Smart comedy that hits home

Like most comics, Harvie’s comedy writing is largely based upon his personal life experiences. "I’m very out in who I am, in my life and in my material," he said.

It wasn't always that way.

Three weeks into Ferrell's comedy writing class a decade ago, "Ian," who was trans-identified at the time but had not yet transitioned, began to feel challenged by the class and spoke to Ferrell about it.

"I told him I was holding back," Harvie explained. "When he asked me what it was, I told him that I wasn't being entirely honest with him or my writing, and I could no longer be dishonest on stage. So I came out to him as trans. He was fully supportive and encouraged me to be honest. He actually watched me transition on stage."

Returning home to produce and film the comedy show was a no-brainer for the Portland native. For one thing, he's been sharing his material with Angelenos for some time and this will be a fresh audience.

More importantly, Maine is where he grew up, came out and got his start on stage, and his mentor Ferrell, who hasn't seen him in the last five years, will also be able to attend his show. "I'm very excited and proud he will be there," Harvie said.

Harvie's comedy has been described as truly unique and one-of-a-kind, and he has great intent and purpose with his writing. "I want to transcend all the old ideas through comedy," he said.

He sharpened the skills Ferrell taught him in various comedy clubs in and around Portland and Boston, before moving to Los Angeles in 2006.

In the five years since, his close friendship with Cho has gained him a large network of comedy colleagues and lasting friendships. "I have a lot of gratitude for how much Margaret has done for me since I came to LA," he said.

His website describes him as a "Stand-up Comic, Public Speaker, Actor and Writer." But the more you learn, the more you realize he is indeed all of this, but so much more. From the Biography page on his website:

No matter who you are, who you love or where you come from, Ian Harvie will make you feel as though you are family. Everyone will be able to relate to his observations about life, relationships, and the routine challenges we all face from day-to-day.

His wickedly funny stories are couched in an amiable personality that could put any audience at ease, while his folksy, ingenuous delivery almost – but not quite – tempers his zinger punch lines, making them not just hilarious but seriously twisted. Even if he wasn’t so witty, without even trying, Ian could set an audience on it’s ear, opening up new realms of irony.

He could be your brother, your best friend’s boyfriend or a merely a clean-cut preppie trying his hand at stand-up, but he’s not. Ian’s not "just" a queer comedian – he’s the world’s first FTM transgendered comic … which, when put into context, will make his anecdotes about his own phobia of public restrooms all the more side-splitting!

But because Ian is so comfortable in his own skin, and has such an appealing "boy next door" stage presence, not to mention a keen eye for observation and is an adept mimic verbally as well as with body language, his humor spans all boundaries, from gender to politics, cutting directly to the core of the human condition, in all it’s infinite strangeness.

"Things still come up every day for me and the struggles are still very current," Harvie told SDGLN. "People think [transgender people] are all the same … but the only thing that is the same is our shared experience, and that is what makes us family. Everything else is different – but we’ve all experienced the same experiences with non-queer communities.

"I am a transman, but I still identify as butch. I like the word dyke, it was home for me for a long time. I believe how people identify is not up for debate. I also leave room … because it might change. The only person anyone should answer to is themselves. Disregard where anybody else wants to put you. The rest of us just need to trust who people say they are.

"My life is a tireless subject and it will be, until [being transgender] is not news any more. There are still not enough transgender public figures, so I want to keep bringing that conversation to the table and in a way that is not invasive."

Harvie hopes this comedy production will be the first of many and get him into a routine of writing, performing, filming and then putting the project to bed and starting over. When production wraps in early January, he will then begin the task of pitching it to cable networks.

If you are in New England and are interested in becoming part of history by being in the audience on Jan. 7, 2012, tickets are available now on his website with prices as follows:

  • $16.95 for general admission
  • $24.95 for reserved seating
  • $59.95 for VIP limited, meet with the crew and comedians afterward

Can't fly or drive to Maine in January but want to help Ian produce this historic comedy special?

Harvie has set up numerous "packages" for contributors to "purchase" through their donations, and he has gotten very creative. He has been adding packages regularly, so keep checking back and sharing the link with friends. In addition to the formal written thanks on his website he mentions in each option below, he has also been personally tweeting and Facebooking his thanks, as well.

NOTE: Harvie only has until Dec. 15 to reach his $15,000 goal on the Kickstarter account, or he will lose all the donations pledged by then, so if you want to contribute, don't delay.

  • Pledge $25 or more:
  • GRATITUDE PACKAGE Formal written thanks on IanHarvie.com web site.

  • Pledge $50 or more:
  • IAN HARVIE'S "BUTCH" TEMPORARY TATTOO - Just what it says, get your very own temporary Butch tattoo, the same one Ian has on his forearm. Plus formal written thanks on IanHarvie.com.

  • Pledge $75 or more:
  • SECOND OPINION - Take it from me, I'm NO expert but I'll call you and you tell me your story and I'll give you my unedited, opinion about what's going on.

  • Pledge $100 or more:
  • UNCOMFORTABLY LONG HUG - If you live in Los Angeles County Greater Portland (Maine), I will drive to meet you and give you an uncomfortably long hug. I promise to make you feel shmarmy afterwards. Plus formal written thanks on IanHarvie.com

  • Pledge $100 or more:
  • GET BAKED FROM M'LADY SARAH - My amazing lady Sarah will bake you a dozen cookies (your choice) and ship them to you. Plus formal written thanks on IanHarvie.com and DVD liner notes. Special thanks given verbally live at the show.

  • Pledge $100 or more:
  • I WOULD SO MAKE YOU A MIXED CD - Custom, signed, mixed music CD of Ian's favorite songs. Plus formal written thanks on IanHarvie.com web site.

  • Pledge $250 or more:
  • SOFT PORN STORY - I will write a soft porn short story featuring you in it, and if by soft porn, I mean REAL soft. I will dedicate it to you and send it to you signed. Plus formal written thanks on IanHarvie.com

  • Pledge $250 or more:
  • THE IAN HARVIE GIFT PACKAGE (T-SHIRT, DVD, CD & THANKS!) - Custom, signed, Super Hero T-Shirt, and custom signed mixed music CD of Ian's favorite songs. Plus formal written thanks on IanHarvie.com and DVD liner notes.

  • Pledge $500 or more:
  • SKYPE or FACETIME MINI CONCERT WITH IAN HARVIE & MARGARET CHO - Name listed in film credits as ASSOCIATE PRODUCER: 5-7 minute Private Skype Concert with Ian Harvie & Margaret Cho for you and all of your friends. Plus formal written thanks on IanHarvie.com and DVD liner notes.

  • Pledge $500 or more:
  • HANDY MAN 1/2 DAY - You didn't know I was handy? Well I am and I will come to your house (in Los Angeles County) and perform any small repair, rehab, household tasks that you need done within an 4 hour time period. I know how to do light carpentry, painting, and I'm down with landscaping too. I also have my own tools. Materials not included.

  • Pledge $500 or more:
  • ASSOCIATE PRODUCER PACKAGE - Name listed in film credits AS ASSOCIATE PRODUCER, 2 VIP Tickets to the making of the film (travel expenses and hotel accommodations not included). Backstage passes to the post show meet & greet party. Plus formal written thanks on IanHarvie.com and DVD liner notes.

  • Pledge $750 or more:
  • SKYPE or FACETIME MINI CONCERT WITH IAN HARVIE & MARGARET CHO - Name listed in film credits as ASSOCIATE PRODUCER: 8-10 minute Private Skype Concert with Ian Harvie & Margaret Cho for you and all of your friends. Plus formal written thanks on IanHarvie.com and DVD liner notes.

  • Pledge $1000 or more:
  • HANDY MAN DAY - You didn't know I was handy? Well I am and I will come to your house (in Los Angeles County) and perform any small repair, rehab, household tasks that you need done within an 8 hour time period. I know how to do light carpentry, painting, and I'm down with landscaping too. I also have my own tools. Materials not included.

  • Pledge $1000 or more:
  • SKYPE or FACETIME MINI CONCERT WITH IAN HARVIE & MARGARET CHO - Name listed in film credits as PRODUCER: 10-12 minute Private Skype Concert with Ian Harvie & Margaret Cho for you and all of your friends. Plus formal written thanks on IanHarvie.com and DVD liner notes. Special thanks given verbally live at the show.

  • Pledge $1000 or more:
  • HOUSE PARTY - If you are within 100 miles if Los Angeles or Portland, Maine I will come to your house and do a 30 minute standup show for you, your family, and friends. Have a dinner party and entertainment. Plus formal written thanks on IANHARVIE.COM and DVD liner notes. Special thanks given verbally live at the show.

  • Pledge $1,500 or more:
  • HOUSE PARTY - If you are within 200 miles if Los Angeles or Portland, Maine I will come to your house and do a 45 minute show for you, your family, and friends. Have a dinner party and entertainment. Plus formal written thanks on IanHarvie.com and DVD liner notes. Special thanks given verbally live at the show.

  • Pledge $2,000 or more:
  • HOUSE PARTY - If you are within 300 miles if Los Angeles or Portland, Maine I will come to your house and do a 1 hour show for you, your family, and friends. Have a dinner party and entertainment. Plus formal written thanks on IanHarvie.com and DVD liner notes. Special thanks given verbally live at the show.

  • Pledge $2,500 or more:
  • SKYPE MINI CONCERT WITH IAN HARVIE & MARGARET CHO - Name listed in film credits as PRODUCER, PLUS: 15 minute Private Skype Concert with Ian Harvie & Margaret Cho for you and all of your friends. In addition you get (2) VIP Tickets to the making of the film, Backstage passes to the post show meet & greet and wrap party. Doesn not include travel and accommodations. Plus formal written thanks on IanHarvie.com and DVD liner notes. Special thanks given verbally live at the show.

  • Pledge $5,000 or more:
  • EXECUTIVE PRODUCER PACKAGE - Name listed in film credits as EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, 15 minute Private Skype Concert with Ian Harvie & Margaret Cho for you and all of your friends, 4 VIP Tickets to the making of the film, (2) Hotel Rooms for (1) Night (Saturday Night January 7, 2012) in Portland, Maine. PLUS (2) Days/(1) Nights at Western Maine's Premier Four Season Resort for (2) people at a date of your choosing. Backstage passes to the post show meet & greet party. Plus formal written thanks on IanHarvie.com and DVD liner notes. Special thanks given verbally live at the show.

  • Pledge $10,000 or more:
  • EXECUTIVE PRODUCER PACKAGE - Name listed in film credits as EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, 15 minute Private Skype Concert with Ian Harvie & Margaret Cho for you and all of your friends, 4 VIP Tickets to the making of the film, (2) Hotel Rooms for (1) Night (Saturday Night January 7, 2012) in Portland, Maine. PLUS (3) Days / (2) Nights at Western Maine's Premier Four Season Resort for (2) people at a date of your choosing. Backstage passes to the post show meet & greet party. Plus formal written thanks on IanHarvie.com and DVD liner notes. Special thanks given verbally live at the show.

See Ian's motivating video on Kickstarter below:



You can learn much more about Ian Harvie by checking out his cool website, or by following him on Facebook or on Twitter