10 Queer Comedians You Should Know (Who Aren’t White Lesbians)

If you research queer comedy, you’ll find that queer women have consistently topped the shit out of the comedy scene. You’ll find odes to Lily Tomlin and Ellen Degeneres with only the occasional nod to comedy notables like Moms Mabley, Wanda Sykes and Margaret Cho, making queer comedy look like a whitewashed dyke party. White lesbians aren’t exactly basking in the limelight — comedy remains dominated by straight cis men — but they’re getting attention, especially here.

If you search for “comedy” on Autostraddle, you’ll find love letters to the Hannah Gadbsys and Cameron Espositos of the world. You won’t find much evidence of the many queer comedians of color who are well-established, wildly successful and wonderfully, deliciously funny.

Here’s a very incomplete list of some of those queer comedians. Watch their specials, buy their albums and drop the names of your favorite queer comedians in the comments.

Jes Tom

If you watched Autostraddle’s Rise Up Get Down online benefit show, then you’ve already encountered Jes Tom, whose gleeful rage against the straight, cis paradigm is both charming and righteous. Follow them on Twitter.

Julio Torres

With his incredibly specific humor, Julio Torres walks the line between goofy and earnest. He writes for Saturday Night Live (check out his commercial parody, “Wells For Boys”) and is the co-creator of Los Espookys. Watch his comedy special, My Favorite Shapes, on HBO.

Tien Tran

A former cast member at the Chicago’s Second City Mainstage, Tien Tran is lovable, astute and painfully honest. Whether she’s acting out embarrassing moments from her past or imagining a stranger’s inner monologue, Tien’s comedic timing is on point. Follow her on Instagram.

Solomon Georgio

Solomon Georgio approaches comedy with supreme confidence, utter indignation and impeccable fashion sense. Check out his comedy album, HomoNégro Superior, on Spotify.

Sydnee Washington

As the host of Brooklyn’s famed Comedy At The Knit, Sydnee Washington is a candid femme force whose comedy feels conversastional. Listen to her co-host The Unofficial Expert on Apple Podcasts.

Sam Jay

Sam Jay’s comedy is confessional, contrarian and painfully honest. She writes for Saturday Night Live (where she co-wrote the famed, recurring sketch, “Black Jeopardy”). Listen to Sam Jay’s comedy album, Donna’s Daughter, on Spotify. Her hour long Netflix special premieres on August 4th.

Sabrina Jalees

On stage Sabrina Jalees is grounded, charismatic and often incredulous. Watch her talk about being a daddy on The Comedy Lineup on Netflix.

Patti Harrison

You might recognize Patti Harrison from Shrill or from her work as guest correspondent on The Tonight Show. Her bizarre humor is sometimes sexual, sometimes grotesque and always satisfyingly inappropriate. Watch her unravel on Twitter.

Jaboukie Young-White

A correspondent for The Daily Show, Jaboukie Young-White is a human slingshot of hilarious observations and hard truths. Follow him on Twitter.

Joel Kim Booster

With his “hot and oblivious” stage persona, Joel Kim Booster is part cultural critic, part mean girl. Watch him play Jun Ho on NBC’s Sunnyside and listen to his album, Model Minority, on Spotify.

Malic White is a Chicago-based writer, comedian and actor. Follow Malic on Twitter and find upcoming shows on Malic's website.

Malic has written 24 articles for us.

47 Comments

  1. I am all for the premise of this article on learning more about queer women of color in comedy! But I feel a weird pitching of lesbian vs queer and dyke vs queer here? It might just be me!

    As you acknowledge, we’re not really swimming in dykes in comedy in general! Women of color might be lesbians and dykes too! Maybe some of these are? I don’t know. I don’t think queer is more progressive as an identity or label? Is this all just me?

    I wanna celebrate these awesome queer POC comedians!

    • Yeah, I found the tone of the headline really off-putting (and an example of a broader shift in tone that has led to less frequent visits here on my part). If the purpose was to recognize POC comedians in the LGBTQ community (which I’m all for), why even bring the lesbian thing into it at all? It could have just said, “Who Aren’t White!” Even odder to specify that the people listed “Aren’t White Lesbians” if some of them do, in fact, identify as lesbians.

      I also hope that the people listed here actually do self-identify as queer, because I’m not down with applying a reclaimed slur to people who don’t specifically say they’re okay with it.

    • Hey I could be wrong but I think the headline was meant to be like “Hey! Here are some queer comedians of color that also deserve your attention and coin that aren’t the same two white lesbians that you see everywhere all the time!”
      I don’t think it was meant to be exclusionary, just a list meant to show us funny queer people that aren’t Rhea Butcher.

  2. Malic, I love this list!! I’m very into Sam Jay and I am excited to know there’s a Netflix special in my future that I can watch!!

    I was sent this clip of Paris Sashay a few months ago by a friend and I still think about it to this day!! So for anyone looking to add even more comedy gold to their watchlist, here ya go:

  3. thanks for this! excited to check out the folks I havent I heard of.

    I loved “Los Espookys” with Julio Torres, it is surreal, silly, and very gay. Multiple characters are queer, and it also stars queer actor/comedian Ana Fabrega. Highly recommend if you have HBO.

  4. An interesting list! Although much like some of the other commenters, I’m not sure why there’s such a “lesbians vs queers” vibe to the introduction. Anyway, I look forward to checking these folks out. I can contribute a few queer comedians I’ve noticed in the British or Australian comedy scene – Nina Oyama, Sophie Duker, Desiree Burch (who is American but moved to the UK) and Gina Yashere (who moved to the US and has specials on Netflix!).

  5. This is a great list! But I also find it weird to call out lesbians, but then include cis gay men. Love the spirit of this, but I also found the queer vs lesbian vibe of the intro a bit incoherent.

    • Hi, xp! No one is getting called out here. I’m acknowledging that Autostraddle’s previous comedy coverage has focused on white lesbian comedians. This list intends to celebrate comedians of color who fall under the queer umbrella, some of whom are lesbians. Thanks for reading!

  6. I want to like this article because I genuinely have been looking for more queer comedians of colour to follow. But why put “lesbian” in the title and focus on them in the intro? It implies that there is privilege in being a lesbian versus identifying as queer, in comedy and elsewhere. Why could the title not be “10 Non-White Queer Comedians You Should Know”? What was even the point, when some of the comedians on the list identify as lesbians anyway? You call queer comedy a “white-washed dyke party” as if there is a problem with the “dyke” part of that and not the fact that comedy, like all entertainment, is overwhelmingly white.

    Sorry if I’m being sensitive. As a lesbian of colour it’s just frustrating that lesbianism is so attached to whiteness, both in racialized spaces and queer spaces.

    • Hi, Coralee! I’m glad you’re excited about these comedians.

      With the title and intro of this article, I’m acknowledging that Autostraddle’s previous comedy coverage has focused on white lesbian comedians. This list intends to celebrate comedians of color who fall under the queer umbrella, some of whom are lesbians. Thanks for reading!

        • Hi, again, Coralee!

          I’m absolutely taking your comment seriously. I’ve shared the same information with multiple folks who commented, and I’m sorry that I didn’t provide a more detailed response up front.

          I’m in no way intending to equate lesbian identity with privilege or whiteness. With the title and intro to this article, I’m intending to point out that Autostraddle’s previous comedy coverage has prioritized white lesbians over lesbians of color, bi women of color, non-binary people of color, gay/bi/queer men of color, etc. It’s the whiteness that’s been prioritized — not lesbian identity. It’s whiteness that offers privilege in comedy — not lesbian identity. When I used the word “queer” in my title, I’m not trying to erase the lesbian identities of some of the folks on this list — I’m using “queer” as an umbrella term, since there are comedians of all kinds of identities on this list.

          Comedy is, as you mentioned, still overwhelmingly white (and still overwhelming straight, cis and male). There’s nothing wrong with being a dyke in comedy (I *am* a dyke in comedy), but there’s something wrong with Autostraddle’s history of almost exclusively focusing on white dyke comedians over comedians who color who are also dykes or who also fall somewhere under the queer umbrella.

          My aim has been to point out Autostraddle’s previous comedy coverage and set us on a path to doing better. I really love all of these comedians, and I’m excited to share their work with Autostraddle readers.

          Thanks, again, for reading and for your thoughtful comment.

          • It’s great to see this more detailed reply, Malic – I definitely feel like I better understand where you are coming from in this article. But while I was genuinely delighted to discover the writer behind Wells for Boys, having 4/10 of these comedians (including the last two on the list) be dudes left a bit of an odd taste in my mouth.
            Particularly because when you say Autostraddle has “prioritised white lesbians” what you are referring to is coverage of primarily white non-disabled cis lesbians – comedians such as Rosie Jones who has cerebral palsy, or Jordan Raskopoulos who is trans are also not often represented in past coverage.

          • Hi Malic.

            Thank you for your thoughtful reply, as I do understand better what your intentions behind the title and intro. I do truly want to highlight the work of POC, and that is something we have in common. I do maintain though that the intention is not clear here in the tone (especially since unless the reader knows you identify as a dyke, the use of the word comes off as a prejorative here), and that creating a dichotomy of “queer POC” and “white lesbians” in the title was more harmful than good.

  7. I also wonder why, as a website that “seek[s] to be a fresh, energizing voice for lesbian, bisexual and queer women,” a bunch of cis men are being included in this list, as if their prior omission was problematically exclusive. (Look up the average salaries of gay men v. lesbians to see which group is–and has always been–higher up on the social totem pole.)

    I’m glad that other people have responded to the lesbian v. queer vibe in the title and subject matter of the article. Lesbianism is still a valid sexual identity; not everyone is destined to be sexually fluid; and lesbianism as a choice has a fascinating anti-patriarchal political history that shouldn’t be overlooked (see generally: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2009/03/02/lesbian-nation).

    Honestly, I’m tired of other people in the LGBTQ+ community: treating lesbianism as obsolete and atavistic; implying that inherent aspects of my sexual identity are discriminatory and require further investigation on my part; and, preposterously, treating lesbians as self-centered oppressors of even more marginalized identities.

    And to criticize lesbians and claim that they are overrepresented on a LESBIAN/BISEXUAL website while also referring to them pejoratively as “dykes” is in poor taste when you are not a member of that group.

    /end rant

    • Very well said. There’s so much about the headline and the article itself that illustrates why I only rarely visit Autostraddle anymore (in fact, I’m only here because I got a follow-up e-mail about the Autostraddle political survey from several months ago). Aside from the fact that I haven’t forgotten that frankly nasty anti-butch/masc/GNC phase the site went through a while back, I feel like there’s very little on this site that reflects my lived experiences, particularly as someone who (for a variety of reasons, including not wanting to habitually use a slur that reminds me of some really unpleasant, formative experiences) doesn’t want to refer to herself as “queer” and finds it wearying to see that label applied (sometimes coercively) to anyone and everyone under the LGBTQ umbrella. And now it’s cool to refer to any and all lesbians as “dykes” too, now, I guess, without regard for whether we actually care to be called by a slur, particularly when it’s used in a deliberately pejorative way.

      I found it particularly distasteful that the author specifically called out lesbians in the headline, then included men (already hugely overrepresented in comedy) on the list. The claims that this wasn’t a call out ring pretty hollow to me, because if the point was to focus on non-cishet POC in comedy, which is laudable, then why not just say that? Instead, people reading the headline were distracted from the actual point of the piece by a snarky parenthetical that wasn’t necessary in the first place.

      • Agreed on all points!

        I still visit this website because there isn’t anything else out there, but I rarely relate to it anymore. I don’t like the conflation of the word “queer” with all of the identities under the LGBT umbrella; it forces ambiguity on my sexuality and the sexuality of all gay men and lesbians. (I honestly don’t even understand how people can “identify as queer” or “identify as lesbian,” when for me, and millions of others, it was never a choice; coming out was the choice.)

        I even remember an interview with the wonderful Celine Sciamma on Autostraddle where the interviewer kept using the word “queer” and Sciamma kept responding with consistently with “lesbian.” One more reason to love her.

        At different times in my life, I’ve tried to join LGBT groups — in college, in grad school, even at the university where I work, and they are always dominated by other voices and I just give up. Instead, I’ve focused on creating my own informal network of friends. Autostraddle used to be a place where I felt welcome and I enjoyed the content — but the experience of feeling alienated in LGBT circles is nothing new to me, so I can live with its decline.

        • I am genuinely confused by this thread like no one is attacking lesbians or saying that being a lesbian isn’t valid. I honestly think the term queer was used because more people now within LGBTQ circles, especially younger people, use the term as an identifier for themselves.

          I am not sure why pro queer has to equal anti-lesbian, and it sounds like there are a lot of personal feelings here that are leading to feeling excluded on this website when for the past seven years, that I’ve been visiting Autostraddle, for the first two I only saw people that didn’t look like me: a black queer non-binary person. Yes it is important to acknowledge that being a lesbian is a valid identity but it’s also important to acknowledge that it’s okay when the attention of this website isn’t solely on them. LGBTQ communities are changing and there’s room enough on this platform for all of us, it doesn’t mean that lesbians are being pushed out.

          • I appreciate your sharing your thoughts — and I agree that this is a sensitive issue for a lot of people, including myself. Being in my mid-30s, I’m probably on the older side of the audience for this website, but I also have some perspective to offer because I’ve been reading it since its inception.

            I support Autostraddle’s widening its circle to include POC, people with disabilities, nonbinary people, etc. Their continued absence from mainstream LGBT conversations needs to be corrected.

            At the same time, I’ve seen language on this website being implicitly and expressly critical of lesbians as a group.

            While lesbians might seem dominant on a website like Autostraddle, in real life we are not. I live in a progressive city and work in higher ed; I’m the only gender nonconforming person in my building. I’m regularly called “sir.” I’ve been called “dyke” before when crossing the street. And I know that it has killed me in job interviews when I’ve shown up in pants and every other woman in my class has worn skirts. So when someone on Autostraddle — a website originally created for lesbian and bisexual women — uses the word “dyke” negatively, I’m going to have an emotional reaction.

            I’m OK with people calling me out for white privilege. I’m never going to be comfortable with people telling me that I have privilege as a lesbian — which is what Autostraddle has been doing lately.

          • Hi! I am a college-aged white lesbian who doesn’t identify as queer and just want to throw in my perspective, since you seem to be framing this as a generational issue (which I absolutely think is true in many regards!).

            While I don’t like to be personally referred to as queer, it is definitely an accepted word for the lgbt community when used by fellow lgbt people. For me, when another lgbt person calls me queer or part of the queer community, I choose to view it as them celebrating our shared differences from the cishet ruling class. Is it easier than using lgbt? Maybe not, but many people view it as more inclusive (for example, of nonbinary people who don’t identify as trans and bi+ people who don’t identify with the term bi) and to me, it is still them reclaiming the slur for themselves to celebrate us and what we have in common! If a cishet person wrote this article, I would agree with you that a different phrase should have been used. Originally the “dyke party” line also threw me off– and this is as someone who has been to multiple parties marketed as dyke parties– but now, while I wouldn’t personally have published that term in that sentence, I understand it as a well-meaning phrase to lighten the mood, show commonality as a fellow “dyke” and not an outsider attacking us, and also just convenient so as to not overuse the phrase “white lesbian.”

            This post isn’t criticizing lesbians and it’s unhelpful to your point to claim so– it’s criticizing the fact that certain white lesbians have more of a platform in comedy specifically (keep in mind, the write is a white lesbian comic who knows this to be true) compared to other lgbt people, especially those who are not white. I think you knew that and got carried away by the fact that the language used hurt you (it’s completely valid to be hurt! But acknowledge that you may have been writing from an emotional place). I agree that the specification that these are cis, able-bodied white lesbians would have been helpful.

            Finally, I want to push back on one of your main points. Cis white lesbians are not more oppressed than non-white cis gay men. This is especially true for black cis gay men (who make up both two of the four men and two of the four black people on this list), because black men have been targeted by white women throughout history, but all of the men on this list deserve to be spotlighted by lgbt publications trying to fight the overwhelming amount of cis able-bodied white gay men in most lgbt media. You would do well to think a bit more critically about how your personal experiences of misogyny could be viewed through a more intersectional and womanist lens to understand gendered expectations for behavior, including most or possibly all (I don’t know anything about your racial background or upbringing) misogyny and homophobia you have experienced, as deeply connected to and rooted in white supremacy. I truly do not understand how some of the most marginalized men being included in a single list on, yes, a website that is designed to cater to people who aren’t cis men, could possibly hurt you or anyone.

          • How were they covered over lesbians, @Carmen SanDiego? Lesbians were also included on this list! They were covered in addition to lesbians, because this is a single article intending to spotlight a broad range of non-white lgbt comedians with different experiences and comedy styles. You’re being purposefully inflammatory because four marginalized men were featured along with six women and nonbinary people in, again, one single article, on a website that would reasonably attract people interested in their specific work. If you’re really one of the oldest readers on this site, you should frankly grow up!

        • Lies, I very much agree. Women are expected to be attracted to men, and so making more ambiguous, fluid labels the default has always rubbed me the wrong way. I am a lesbian, not queer, and my sexuality is not more regressive or old-fashioned. This did not happen in the article as far as I can tell, but has happened in other AS articles, but insisting on labelling lesbians as queer just reeks of misogyny. The title just felt like “progressive queers of colour versus overrepresented white lesbians”, whether or not that was the intent. And as I mentioned in my other comment, being a lesbian is already seen as a “white” sexuality

          And I absolutely agree putting cis men on this list was a very strange choice for a website meant to prioritize lesbian, bisexual, trans, pan, and queer women. To call lesbians overrepresented on AS and then include cis men just feels absurd.

          • This is happening on here A LOT. There’s been accusations of lesbians being bi/transphobic if we don’t use the word ”queer”. No, I’m over 50, I’m in the UK, most of us older people here whether lesbian/bi/ or trans of whatever sexuality don’t use it. There’s been articles where people have SPECIFICALLY identified as lesbian, but the headline has said ”X person comes out as queer”. There’s been comments saying it’s biphobic to say bi people shouldn’t use the word ”dyke”. Again this ”MAY” be a UK thing, but most bi people here do NOT use it, and actually find it bi-erasing. Lesbians speak up on here and get jumped on ( and generally no one knows if they’re cis or trans, which also undermines the ‘lesbians are terfs’ argument.

          • also @enichol5, telling someone to ”grow up” just because they stated a different, non-bigoted, reasoned viewpoint is REALLY off. And their age ( if you meant ‘oldest’ as you said rather than ‘longtime reader’ is equally nonsensical.

          • hey @malingo, you are right, I meant someone who has been consuming lgbt media for a long time, and I definitely should have said “longtime reader” instead of oldest! Thank you for helping me to correct my ageist language, which is something I’m still working on! To be clear, specifically what I feel is immature as far as criticizing media is to use language that is purposefully meant to seem like an obvious issue, “coverage of men over lesbians,” instead of the truth, which is “coverage of a group of non-white comedians which includes men instead of further coverage of white lesbian comedians who have already been given platforms on this site multiple times.” Mature criticism, by which I mean careful and thorough in the dictionary sense of the word mature, should acknowledge the reality of the article and not make statements that are false and misleading in the context of this discussion.

          • It kinda IS biphobic to say that I’m not allowed to use the word “dyke” to describe myself, though.

            I’ve been using that word since I came out, over two decades ago, and it is an intrinsic part of my identity. It’s also a word that PLENTY bi dykes were using back then, and many of us continue to use now.

            Not all bi women are dykes. Some of us are. We have every bit as much a right to ownership over that word as anyone else does, and nobody gets to take that away.

  8. Eh, never mind. I see you identify as a dyke, etc., and have explained yourself in the comments. Nonetheless, I hope you’ve taken to heart that implications of your title and introductory info. And, still, I don’t see the point in including men.

    • Although really, making a personal decision to reclaim a slur for oneself doesn’t give one the right to apply that slur to everyone they feel should be reclaiming it. I’m definitely a lesbian. I definitely do not want to be referred to as a “dyke” by anyone, for any reason, even if they’ve chosen to reclaim that word for themselves (which is completely fine and something I applaud). The fact that the author IDs that way is completely fine, but it’s still gross to derisively refer to a group of lesbians as a “dyke fest,” whether you self-identify as a “dyke” or not.

      • You’re right. I think what I didn’t like was that lesbians were referred to as “dykes” disdainfully. It’s one thing to use the word in a group of likeminded friends; it’s another to toss it around when you’re criticizing the group. The writer flippantly draws on a vicious history of discrimination, assault, and erasure.

  9. I have been thinking about this for a while, and sitting with my thoughts regarding my biases. I am a bisexual POC and was really excited for this new era at Autostraddle and seeing myself more represented. However like other people in the comments was turned off by the headlines “snarky mean girl” vibe pairing lesbian with white privilege felt like a divisive headline (whether intentional or not). I honestly do not think it would have felt like that but having read it then, having 4 cis gay men of color in the article is why the headline suddenly feels like that. I am not sure when looking at intersectionality of race/gender/sexuality who is more oppressed regarding entertainment and comedy- however My gut tells me it would be women identified POC’s in the LGBTQ+ community overall. However I have not researched or done that specific work. I also have no say, real well thought out researched opinion, or any reason why that opinion should be listened to on who deserves to be promoted by Autostraddle- and the writer and editor obviously does, and what the writer and editors opinion and belief is that it is important on a website that was once for lesbian/bisexual/non-binary and transgender women to now include gay men of color. I guess that is where I do feel the loss. I suppose I shouldn’t as one commenter wrote how can putting 4 men on a list take away from or hurt me in anyway. I guess it just feels as if a safe space that was once about writing by, for, and about women within the LGBTQ+ community is gone and right and a time when I was going to start seeing more representation of people like me and my friends.

    • Hi Forleyna! I just wanted to say that your comment meant a lot to me. I also hope that you take away that one article that included cis gay men of color isn’t indicative of a broader editorial strategy to take away Autostraddle as safe space for LGBT women (and that’s true for anyone else reading my comment and wondering the same thing).

      We’ve also discussed cis gay men of color before on the website, as it was relevant on occasion, and it’s never quite hit the flashpoint that it has with readers in this piece.

      Anyway, I don’t want to speak over anyone having a conversation in the comments, because I think it is important, but I did want to address this one part specifically. Ok thanks for reading!

  10. Wow I posted my comment and walked away but so many of you have stayed to articulate so well what my issue was with the framing here- thank you, I appreciate that.

    Malic, thank you for your thoughtful response to Coralee. I thought this more directly addressed the issues people were raising vs your other comments.

    I personally still find it an issue the way this was title and framed and think you could have addressed the overwhelming whiteness without pitting lesbian vs. queer.

  11. it can sometimes be helpful to pull apart intention and impact, acknowledge intention, and attend to and repair impact. Seems like the intention is to share about some lgbtq comedians of color and their work. Thank you Malic, and everyone who shared in the comments, for doing that. It also seems like that intention has been acknowledged in comments. The impact on multiple readers is that the framing brings up divisive and erasing trends that are making people feel excluded, or at least less sure they are included here (e.g. coding lesbian as white which excludes lesbians of color, etc) Could re-framing as a celebration of lgbtq comedians of color help address the impact? Thank you again Malic for this list & to everyone for additions in the comments – they will keep me entertained & I’m excited for the specials highlighted here. Thanks to everyone in comments speaking their truths and calling for more inclusion & celebration.

    Also noting it’s a hard time for everyone <3 take care all!!!

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