(Editor’s update: Sher Krieger of Martinis Above Fourth reports that Jason Stuart has postponed his show scheduled for Oct. 16. A make-up date has not been announced.)
SAN DIEGO, California — Jason Stuart is a gay stand-up comic who is proving that getting older is not a death sentence in Hollywood, at least not for an active artist such as himself.
Performing at Martinis Above Fourth in Hillcrest on Oct. 16, the comic says he will deliver honest and straightforward details about life in his show, “I’m Not Dead Yet.” He hopes you will laugh as much as he does about his love life, his age and even his mother.
Born in the Bronx in New York, and coming to Los Angeles as a child, Jason jokes that he is still trying his best to get someplace really slowly. It’s hard to believe, but that slow pace has made him an actor, comedian, mentor and co-founder of SAG-AFTRA’s LGBT Committee.
“I wanted to be a really big star, and that didn’t happen,” he told San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, “so I had to become really good at what I did, and really start to enjoy it. And I do, I love being an actor, I love making people laugh. So I am very happy at what I do.”
Stuart spends his time between Los Angeles and New York. When asked about the difference between the two coasts, he quickly responds that it lies in his search for love. “It’s all about the men, for me. The men seem more willing to meet you and be in a relationship. But in Los Angeles, where I live, there is always a bigger name on the other line. I want a relationship; so that’s something hopefully I will find in New York. I’m lookin’ for a good guy!”
Saying he was tormented in school as a young man, Stuart looked to television for comfort and inspiration. He says that one actress, and one show in particular, encouraged him.
“I was bullied very deeply all through junior high school. It was pretty devastating, and that’s where comedy sorta came in. Valerie Harper on the ‘Rhoda’ show was really an inspiration for me, y’know, seeing someone who was Jewish and funny gave me a place to be Jewish and funny; it sorta gave me a place to be.”
As an adult, Stuart now mentors kids that might be lost or in need of guidance. He establishes that these kids are not all gay, “There’s one gay kid,” he says, “and there’s one, two, three or four straight kids; one of them is a couple — straight kids. One from a movie I was in called ‘Love is Strange’ and the other one, I met and he just sorta attached himself to me.”
Paul Elia is that kid who attached himself to Stuart. Together, they created an upcoming Internet program that is set to air in November. “We created a web series together called ‘Mentor’ that is being ‘dropped’ — as they say, that’s the cool term, in November on GayDirect.”
As a gay actor, Stuart is painfully aware that getting older in Hollywood can be a curse. Parts for older actors are not as abundant as they are for younger ones, but still he perseveres.
“I always say there are no roles for people over 35,” Stuart quipped, “I’m in this new movie ‘Love is Strange’ and people say, ‘Do you play a gay character?’ I say I’m not sure; there’s not enough time on screen to figure that out.”
What Stuart may lack in screen time, he makes up for in other endeavors. For example, he is proud of his work with SAG-AFTRA’s LGBT Committee.
He tells SDGLN that the committee represents a wide array of not only gay actors, but stunt people, journalists, extras, dancers, singers and comedians.
“I’m obsessed with actors just working who are openly gay. My mission is opportunity for more people and I try and do it with my own career and also by the support of others,” Stuart said.
Stuart’s life and career are the subjects of his new stand-up act “I’m Not Dead Yet.” With his concerns about getting older and his dating potential, “I’m Not Dead Yet” is a showcase for his new material that casts a comic eye on his life. Stuart is very close with his mother, but even she isn’t safe from his acerbic wit.
“She used to shop at Forever 21, now shops at Forever 77. She wears cha-cha heels, her plastic earrings and a Snap-on ponytail. That’s my mom,” Stuart joked, “we’re very close.”
Despite his mother telling him not to be so bossy, Stuart laughs that she is the one that bosses him around: “She talks, I listen, I never get a word in, so doesn’t really matter and she doesn’t hear me anyway!”
Along with his mother, Stuart says that Joan Rivers was a great inspiration to him.
“Joan Rivers reminds me of me, in the sense that she has an incredible work ethic and everything that she did always took so long to get where she was going,” he said, “She got that Carson thing in the ‘60s and then she kept trying to work and work and work and everything was a very uphill battle for her. And I think that I can really relate to that.”
Yet Stuart has his own reasons for making people laugh. One night during his “Coming Out” tour, a young lady in St. Louis approached him and said that her son had died. She said it wasn’t until that night, motivated by Stuart’s appearance, that she was able to leave her house and laugh a little.
“I thought ‘Oh my God!,’ he passed way from AIDS,” Stuart explained, “and, apparently I must have physically looked like him or something — or something about me reminded her. I thought ‘Wow, this is powerful.’ So it’s like a relief button.”
In addition to his stand-up act, Stuart can be seen in the movie “Love is Strange,” the upcoming webseries “Mentor” and many other projects that you can find via his website.