Task: Read a humor book.
In 1999 or maybe 2000, I was at a dear friend’s house (at the time, he was in the high school boyfriend iteration of said friendship – long story with many revisions). We were high school kids with driver’s licenses and big dreams in a small town in Arkansas eating pizza pockets in front of his parents’ TV on a weekend night, when we channel-surfed into Eddie Izzard’s Dress to Kill HBO special.
This wasn’t just any TV. Matt had satellite TV. He had so. many. channels, including MTfreakingV (my hometown’s standard cable package was a VHI-only deal, which is part of the reason I’m so well-versed in 1980s one hit wonders). Keep in mind that these were pre-YouTube and pre-Napster days. Discovering new music often involved shelling out for an actual $9.99 CD, which would then be lovingly installed in my six-disc changer and listened to obsessively while poring over the liner notes.
Anyway, watching TV at Matt’s house was a big deal.
And so we were surfing the mind-boggling number of premium channels in his satellite package when we came across a British comedian wearing thick eyeliner, bright blue eye shadow and heels, but who also appeared to be a man.
You need to understand that at the time my understanding of transgender identity was largely informed by Silence of the Lambs, Ace Ventura, and, mercifully less damagingly, Wanda in The Sandman (because we were cool kids, mind you). So I was confused by this person so confidently and unapologetically coloring outside of the lines.
I hadn’t had much exposure to his style of comedy either. It bounced around wildly between cerebral, ridiculous, surreal, and big-hearted.
I’d never seen anything so funny in my entire life.