Gay Male Student #1 (Ep. 149 - Carol Burnett)

This Week's Guest: Justin Root

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It's a Hollywood cliche -- the pretty young face that moves to LA with no plan other than to get into the motion pictures. And yet it happened to this week's guest, Justin Root. He was a shy Ohio kid who feared the spotlight until he discovered how good it made him feel to be in it. A few weeks after graduating high school, he'd moved to LA. A few weeks after that, he was in movies. And not long after that, he had a recurring role on TV. It didn't take long for the entertainment industry to discover Justin, but it took another decade -- and some terrified cruising in the local video store -- for Justin to find himself.

We'll have that conversation in a minute -- but first, a reminder that starting in February, I'm going to be making monthly bonus episodes of Sewers of Paris, with bonus livestreams and new YouTube videos about LGBT entertainment. Mark your calendars now for a kickoff livestream on February 10th, where I'll be chatting live with Sewers of Paris listeners about the entertainment that changed your life -- I'll have more details soon about how you can join that.

To everyone already supporting The Sewers of Paris on Patreon: huge thanks. And to everyone who hasn't pledged yet, February is going to be a great time to start. Just head to SewersOfParis.com and click "support the show on Patreon." 

If you're not able to support the show financially, there’s other ways you can help -- just by listening, tweeting about the show, following The Sewers of Paris on Twitter and Facebook, and by writing reviews. All of that is a huge help and I'm very very grateful. And you can also write in to sewerspodcast@gmail.com. Listener Bojan Djordjevic writes that:

"Movies and TV shows have always shaped me, for better or worse, and they have always been a way for me to feel closer to the gay world ... the podcast helps me see how we've always been here and we've always been relevant whether others knew it or not."

Bojan also writes,

"My first idol was Lucille Ball. ... I didn't sleep much as a child and I had a TV in my room so I would watch any sort of old black and white movie on at 4 am. ... I remember a movie with Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance. It was in color and it was about them on the run and that's about all I can remember. I can't find it online."

So, listeners, if you know what movie he might be talking about, get in touch @sewersofparis on twitter or sewerspodcast@gmail.com. Let's reunite Bojan with that movie.

This Week's Recommendation: Two moments from the Carol Burnett Show

Big thanks to Justin for joining me. I cannot endorse his opinions on Judy Garland. But I absolutely agree that there are delights to be found in the Carol Burnett show. For my recommendation this week, take a look at my two favorite moments from her show. The first is the famous "Went with the Wind" sketch, particularly the moment when she enters wearing a dress made out of drapes.

It's a funny sight gag, but what's even more pleasurable is the audience reaction. They absolutely lose control, so much so that the show had to edit some of the laughter out because it made the sketch run too long. It's fun to see the dress but what affects me most about that particular moment is how the laughter rolls through the scene like a wave, and even though you can't see them, the unbridled delight of the audience is totally contagious.

My second favorite clip is from a sketch in which Tim Conway tells a story about an elephant. The story is clearly intended to be very short, but Tim Conway takes control of the scene and keeps adding one absurd detail after another. The other actors are clearly ready to move on with the scene, but he just won't end his improvised speech, and the ridiculousness of the entire cast being held hostage in this way becomes increasingly ridiculous as the minutes pass by, and one by one the cast starts doing their best to keep from cracking up. Finally, there's a pause in Tim's monologue, and Vicky Lawrence interjects with a placid yet hostile dig that nobody on stage saw coming, and they all explode in laughter, literally falling on the floor.

Once again, it's a moment of unbridled hilarity, with everyone consumed with laughter that they had no idea was lying in wait for them. Professional comedians know how to craft jokes, wield humor, and control the laughter of those around them. But there's a point at which the laughter takes over, at which point it's really in control. That feeling of pleasure says "I'll take it from here," and for some reason, we always let it. It may not last long, but when it's happening, what a relief it is to relinquish command to that drive to laugh -- it overrides all self-control, and somehow we all trust that exists for only one purpose: To make you feel good. 

Stuff We Talked About