There's no Comedy Without Conflict (Ep. 197 - Improv)

This Week’s Guest: Michael Henry

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How do you muster the nerve to keep going when it seems like the odds are stacked against you? My guest this week picked up some life advice from improv comedy -- in particular, the lesson to say yes and then heighten whatever's happened so far. Though you may know Michael Henry from his YouTube comedy videos, his acting background is far more serious, and he expected to become a serious dramatic actor. The fact that he could only seem to make audiences laugh troubled him for years -- until he realized he could say yes to comedy, and the unexpected direction it would take him.

We'll have that conversation in a minute. But first I want to invite you to a weeklong livestream of games starting Sunday, October 28! It's the return of Extra Life, an annual fundraiser for Seattle Children's Hospital. We're kicking the week off with a big gay game of Dungeons & Dragons featuring Comedian Bryan Safi, Culture Critic Carlos Maza, Writer Anthony Oliveira, and Scholar Bryan Wuest. Then I'll be streaming games every day from October 29 to November 3. And on Sunday, November 4th, join us for another game of D&D featuring the drag queen cast of Queens of Adventure in full drag! We'll be serving looks, interacting with viewers, and encouraging everyone to donate to Seattle Children's Hospital -- 100% of everything you give goes straight to the hospital. Get the details and watch us live at See you starting October 28.

BTW, I hope you'll also join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat, with special guest Seattle drag superstar Arson Nicki. It’s Saturday October 27 at 2pm pacific. There's a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

Huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. There's rewards for folks who back the show -- just click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show. 

Head over to to see clips of the stuff we talk about on each episode of the show. And for more queer podcasting, check out Queens Of Adventure to hear drag queens on an epic Dungeons & Dragons quest. That’s at

This Week’s Recommendation: Michael’s YouTube Channel

Thanks again to Michael for joining me. You can check out his videos on YouTube, which is my recommendation this week. They're all super short AND YET I keep finding myself spending way too much time clicking through one after another after the next. In particular, look for the video with the startling title "This video is about HIV."

As advertised, the video is about HIV. It's under 2 minutes, but in that time, we see a lightning-fast montage of gay men talking about -- or avoiding -- conversations about sex and health. Not only is it funny, with a solid punchline on average every three seconds, but it is actually one of the most educational and honest lessons on HIV I've seen in a long time, covering topics like testing and PrEP and stigma. What I love about the video is that it jumps through every conversation queer guys need to have about AIDS and feel weird about bringing up -- but hopefully a little less weird after this video deflates the somber attitude around STIs.

But that's not all! There's also a great video about why men call each other masculine nicknames; and another about the privilege of being pretty; one about how straight guys talk to gay guys about whether other men are attractive; and one about deciding whether or not to be a sex object. They're all short and pithy and refer directly to some aspect of queer culture that it is about time someone brought up. As you watch, you may feel about 50% vindicated and 50% called out. Which is about the right balance for any great work of art. Or YouTube video.