By Jeff Walsh
Scott Silverman is gay, despite his unkempt hair, T-shirt and jeans (which runs contrary to his living near San Francisco's Castro district for five years), and despite references in his stand-up comedy act about how much he wishes he were a smart, hot woman like Shirley Manson from the band Garbage.
"I think I'm too lazy," Silverman says, explaining why he doesn't dress up like the other "Castro clones" where we both live. "Being a Castro clone requires a lot more attention to detail, and even though I'm vain, conceited and egomaniacal, I'm really intensely lazy. So, I'd rather be ugly and dateless then spending every day getting myself together. I really don't care. Eventually I'll meet somebody who will love me for me, and until then I have a cool car and a lot of friends."
Silverman spends much of his time traveling and performing his stand-up comedy in predominately straight clubs. Doing stand-up for five years now, it's the longest he's ever kept one job. His act features everything from his staunchly supportive P-FLAG mother ("Homosexuality is a hobby we both share.") to why Hootie and the Blowfish suck and whatever else happens to be on his mind.
"I love doing stand-up. It's the closest you can get to being a rock star without having any musical talent," he says.
He also helps tourists to San Francisco check off one of the sites to see in the city: "On your San Francisco scavenger hunt, you can now punch the homosexual card, because here I am right here on the wharf. You didn't even have to go to the Castro."
'I'm gay, my car's not.'
The only national television show on which he's been featured is Out There II, Comedy Central's annual gay comedy show, which is airing again this month. But Silverman isn't upset that people mainly know him for his one recorded comedy segment.
"I'm very proud of that. I love that set. I love the fact that it was Stonewall weekend," he says. "And there was a guy I knew who was right in the front and I didn't know it, because he was a drag performer. He wasn't in drag and I was like, 'Who's the cute guy?' and it was him. It was a really fun weekend."
The shoot also has some bad memories, such as his car being vandalized the previous night, but he was able to focus enough to go onstage and win over the crowd.
"$3000 worth of damage because I put a rainbow flag on it. It's no longer there. The body shop guy was like, 'Do you still want this?' And I was like, 'N.O.'" he says. "I was read the riot act when I had the rainbow removed off my car. But you know what? I'm gay, my car's not. I'm willing to bet my car's heterosexual because it's got a supercharger on it. I had to have the penis augmented."
Silverman hopes Out There II will eventually be referred to as his first television appearance, and not just his only appearance.
"I hope to do Conan. I think it's just a matter of getting really popular in mainstream clubs, which is what I'm working at. I do much more mainstream than gay clubs," he says. "I want to really popular in the straight clubs, because gay audiences, they've heard it. When I do my act, I talk about being gay, but I also I talk about cars and Nicole Brown, things that interest me. Because that's what being a comic is all about. I mean, I love boys. I'm boy crazy. I love the whole flirting process. I wish I was more of a gay rights activist but... I've got a job. I'm pretty visible.
"I'm gotten some pretty severe slagging from the gay activists. But it's really easy to be gay in the Castro. I'm not down on gay pride, but I'm like, come out in Nebraska, in front of a room full of straight people and then get back to me.
"I think I'm doing all I can. And I've bequeathed my parents to the gay community, who are really gay rights activists. She was marching for AB 101, gay marriage or whatever the issue. She's really into it. And I'm like, 'Whatever, Mom. I'm never getting married because I'm shallow,'" he says. "One of my ex-boyfriends said my best quality is my mom."
'All of the sudden, I became a gay comic'
Silverman says most criticism of his act comes from the gay community.
"They are the first in line saying it should be more gay. My act is only as gay as I am, so I guess I'm not gay enough," he says. "I thought being gay was who you fell in love with, not your act. I barely have sex offstage, so I'm not going to have it onstage.
"A lot of gay comics are up there saying, 'I can't get laid.' I'm like, 'That is not my problem.' I talk about cars and women, and how I worship women. So, straight people don't know what to make of me. They're like, 'That gay guy knows more about cars than I do.' You're right, buy Road and Track.
Silverman also admires Ellen's supposed decision to come out soon on both her TV show and in real life.
"It takes guts to be out and gay in Hollywood, believe me. Ellen DeGeneres coming out... that would be nice. I'm sure she wants to, and I've met a lot of people closeted in Hollywood and they don't want to," he says. "But that's their career, and I don't think they should have to come out. It should be a choice. Ellen is going to get it. She is going to pay for it if she does it."
The comic has a simple solution for people who are upset by Ellen's coming out on her show: "Don't watch."
Silverman has no sitcom aspirations of his own. He plans to write books, which is what he was studying to do, before comedy took over.
"I was studying to be a journalist and I wanted to work for a car magazine. Then all of the sudden I became a gay comic, I don't know what happened," he says. "I heard about Josie's [Cabaret and Juice Joint] while I was in college, dropped out and went there the first week I was here. I wanted to do out gay comedy from the moment I started."
But would that openness translate to a contract in Hollywood?
"Hollywood is not homophobic. It's the rest of the country that is, and Hollywood makes movies for the rest of the country," he says.
It's in middle America where Silverman is at his most political, just because he says he's gay. And he's also not afraid to take on his homophobic hecklers, even with one incident that ended with the police arriving at the club to escort him to his car after his set.
"I was like, 'Come up here, faggot' and all in his face. Apparently, he was trying to get up onstage and punch me, and his friends were holding him back," Silverman says. "And the club saw what was going on. I don't know why I didn't notice. But they had to call 911 from the club and the police had to come, and I was escorted from the club as soon as I was done with my set. There was a big fracas afterward. The guy was waiting for me."
'Hopefully, I'll make it'
Silverman came out at 20, while he was in college. He started speaking on campus to show that not everyone has a tragic coming out story, since his parents were ecstatic about him being gay. The speaking led to his stand-up.
Now, he's looking forward to advancing his comedy career, remaining out and growing older.
"I'm almost 30, hopefully I'll make it, if I don't piss any of my ex's off."