BY JOE MARVILLI
Adam Sank used his love of performing on stage to become one of the best LGBT comedians in the City.
The openly gay comedian is a staple of the Queens stand-up scene, frequently appearing at venues like The Laughing Devil in Long Island City. With his talent for telling true stories that often wind up with him as the butt of the joke, Sank gets audiences of all shapes and sizes bursting with laughter.
Sank started on stage in musical theater as a child and teenager, with a dream to land on Broadway. However, in college, that plan did not work out.
“After college, I stopped for 10 years. I wanted to get back on stage somehow and I liked stand-up,” Sank said. “If I did comedy, I could write my own material. In comedy, there are plenty of places where a beginner can get on stage.”
Like most comedians, it took some time for Sank to figure out what his voice was and where his strengths lied. Now, 11 years after he started, Sank has established himself as a storyteller, who weaves humiliating tales about his own experiences.
Besides sharpening his skills in the last decade, Sank said that the cultural climate has changed for gay comedians. Back in 2003, being an out, gay comedian was a big deal, as not many were around. Nowadays, Sank said that when a comedian comes out of the closet, nobody bats an eye. As a side effect of this acceptance, crowds want more from a comedian’s act than just their orientation.
“For all of us when we started, our act was kind of ‘hey, we’re gay.’ The audience expects more from us now. It’s forced us to be a little craftier,” Sank said.
The comedian added that there is still some “ghettoization” from comedy bookers, as many feel that gay comics can only play for a gay crowd, something that Sank said is not the case.
“People don’t want to see themselves onstage. They want to see diversity,” he said. “In terms of humor itself, people have become more sophisticated. Gay people are more integrated instead of being a different type of stand-up.”
Sank has brought his particular brand of stand-up to audiences all over New York. He hosted “Adam Sank’s Gay Bash” from 2006 to 2007, first at Carolines and then at Comix comedy club. He also served as host and producer of “Electro Shock Therapy Comedy Hour” at the Therapy Lounge for three years.
“In the beginning, it was me screaming to be heard over a bunch of drunk, gay guys who didn’t want to be heard by me,” Sank said. “By the time I left, it was the most popular Sunday show in the City. I made a point of booking comics of every stripe.”
Besides comedy, Sank retains his love of music. He is a member of the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus and is also starring in “Mama, I Want to Sing Showtunes: A One ‘Mo Show!” The performance is his first cabaret show, where he will use music and comedy to tell his personal story of growing up, coming out and how he got to where he is today.
“Since I joined the chorus, I’ve been getting back into music and singing. I’ve wanted to combine the two in some way,” Sank said. “I go through my life explaining the role music and singing have had for me. I tell really humiliating stories about my childhood.”
The cabaret show takes place on June 19 and June 27 at 7 p.m. in The Duplex Cabaret Theatre, located at 61 Christopher St. You can also see Sank’s stand-up at Creek and Cave in Long Island City on June 12 at 8 p.m. Tune into VH1 from June 17 to June 21, where he will appear as a commentator on “I Love The 2000s.”
For more information on Sank, visit www.adamsank.com.
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @JoeMarvilli.