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Logo Network Unveils 'Big Gay Sketch Show'

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

This is DAY TO DAY from NPR News. I'm Alex Chadwick.

ALEX COHEN, host:

And I'm Alex Cohen.

Attention, Rosie O' Donnell fans: If your daily Rosie dose on "The View" just isn't enough, we've got news for you. Rosie's got a new outlet for her bold sense of humor. She's the executive producer of a series starting tonight on the cable channel Logo. The program is called "The Big Gay Sketch Show."

Our small, straight TV critic Andrew Wallenstein has this review.

ANDREW WALLENSTEIN: Can a straight man enjoy gay comedy? Maybe that's a stupid question. After all, funny is funny, right? And to my surprise, "The Big Gay Sketch Show" is very funny.

Now you might be thinking, isn't it sort of homophobic to say I found it surprising? It's as if I'm insinuating that because it's gay humor, it's somehow less humorous. But that's just it: "Big Gay Sketch" is not meant for a heterosexual like me. It's on the Logo, after all, a gay-themed network. But I still really dug this show.

As you'd expect from a brash comedienne like O' Donnell, "Big Gay Sketch" does not soft-pedal its central theme. Its irreverence rings loud and clear from the very first sketch.

(Soundbite of TV show, "The Big Gay Sketch Show")

Unidentified Woman #1: Do you wish you had a gay friend like the grownups you see on TV, but you're not quite old enough yet?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Unidentified Woman: Well, wait no more. Meet Pocket Gay Friend.

(Singing) Look in your pocket, what do you spy? Your very own little G-A-Y. Your Pocket Gay Friend, gay friend on the go, your little gay friend, (unintelligible).

(Soundbite of laughter)

WALLENSTEIN: It's weird. One second I'm laughing at the show, and the next, I'm feeling guilty. That's because "Big Gay Sketch" pokes fun at every gay stereotype there is, which is fine when you're in on the joke. But as an outsider, I almost felt like I didn't have a right to laugh.

On the flipside, I found myself watching and bracing myself. What if "Big Gay Sketch" trained its sharp comic eye on my straight brethren? If I laughed, was I some kind of sell out?

But "Big Gay Sketch" has too much fun mocking its target audience to bother with how the other half lives. The closest it comes is an occasional re-imagining of classic TV shows. In this sketch, "The Honeymooners" is revisited in slightly altered form.

Unidentified Woman #2: Rhonda Kramden.

Unidentified Woman #3: Humina, humina, humina, humina, humina.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Unidentified Woman #2: Where do you think you're going?

Unidentified Woman #3: Don't start with me, Alice. I'm just here to get my bowling ball.

Unidentified Woman #2: Well, why don't I go with you? You never take me anywhere, Rhonda Kramden.

Unidentified Woman #3: Alice? You know we can't be seen together. Someone at the bowling alley might think I'm a lesbian.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Unidentified Woman #2: Oh yeah? Well, if that's what you're worried about, then I suggest you find a bowling alley for the blind.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Unidentified Woman #3: You're a riot, Alice. A regular riot.

WALLENSTEIN: Now wait a second. Imagine you saw that skit outside the Logo network. Would that seem funny or offensive? If anything, "Big Gay Sketch" underscores the importance of context for comedy, a timely lesson in this post-Imus era.

I also hope "Big Gay Sketch" prompts viewers who have never sampled Logo to give it a chance. I learned just because a TV program is on a gay-themed channel doesn't mean it's just for gays. A show this good deserves a much wider audience.

COHEN: Andrew Wallenstein is an editor with the Hollywood Reporter. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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