Leslie Jordan, the 50-something, openly gay comedian and actor, records his new off-Broadway, one-man show live at the 14th Street Playhouse in Atlanta. It's called My Trip Down the Pink Carpet after his published memoir of the same name.
Most people recognize Jordan from his appearances on the hit TV series Will & Grace for which he won an Emmy in 2006. Jordan opens his show with his experience at that year's Emmy Award show where he had the distinction of presenting with Cloris Leachman.
Jordan was born in the 1950s. He realized he was a homosexual in the 1970s. He came to Hollywood in the 1980s. He went to rehab for drug and alcohol abuse in the 1990s, and he's been tellng stories about all of it since the 2000s.
There have been plenty of comedians who have done movies where it's just been them on a stage talking about themselves, their lives, and making jokes for a hour and a half. Unless it's something for LOGO-TV, none have been gay comedians and none have expressed the gay experience. This film is unique in that it does offer that perspective.
It's like The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me (2000) only with more hilarious one-liners, more flamboyance and less production design. Yet, it's not like Jordan needs a set or even costume changes. All he needs is his suit, velvet rope, a pink carpet that he unfurls himself and a couple of boxes to stand on.
The boxes are about half as tall as Jordan in height. He doesn't simply stand on them. He jumps up and down on them repeatedly. For someone who's supposedly old, Jordan is quite nimble. Throughout this movie, he takes dance-breaks like Bernie Mac during his performance on HBO's Def Comedy Jam.
Despite being silver-haired, he's a ball of energy. Jordan has a lively and engaging spirit. He says, "I am a high school cheerleader stuck in a 53-year-old man's body." That body however doesn't seem to be slowing down. Occasionally, he'll lay down on the floor to rest but the music cues have him back on his feet again in no time.
Jordan recounts what it was like working with so many famous people on various TV shows, but he's easily distracted. In the middle of stories, he'll get off track and forget where he is. Yet, his distractions and tangents never diverge too much but instead enrich and make his stories feel less rehearsed and more honest and real.
He's in awe of many of the famous actresses and in lust with many of the famous actors he meets. He talks about crushes and obsessions. He notes in his fictional diary like a teenage girl that he loves handsome men. He sashays, curtsies and rolls on the floor. From walking like Bette Midler in concert to sounding like Rue McClanahan, Jordan proves as he says, "I am without a doubt the gayest man I know."
Jordan has signature if cliche lines when describing himself like, "I fell outta the womb and I landed smack dab in my momma's high heels," said in his thick, Tennessee accent. He even has similar lines when describing others like, "He was shaking like a little chihuahua." He's funny, charming and shocking at times.
He's shocking in some of his thoughts, feelings and observations. Nothing is perhaps more shocking though than Jordan's revelations about his internalized homophobia. He was fascinated yet deeply repulsed by his thoughts, feelings and observations. He talks about being bullied as well.
Jordan says there are two types: the fabulous and the fearful. He explains how he's been both in his life. Listening to him as he discusses how he came to be not fearful any more but fabulous in his way of being is entertaining and inspiring and ultimately important for understanding not just this one gay man but many gay men with a good humor that many straight men need in order to do so.