As a result of a rash of suicides of gay teens in 2010 and 2011 inspired comedian Todd Glass to publicly come out on Marc Moran’s podcast, WTF. Before that, Glass established a respectable career by telling jokes about relationships, but cleverly switching gender pronouns – thereby proving that most relationship problems are universal, regardless of gender or sexuality. In The Todd Glass Situation: A Bunch of Lies about My Personal Life and a Bunch of True Stories about My 30-Year Career in Stand-Up, the comedian shares his upbringing and his yeoman-like effort in building a career as well as the difficulty of living a double life, one as a straight man, the other as a gay man.
On stage or in interviews, one thing that comes across clearly is that Todd Glass is passionate. He’s also very intelligent and he uses his smarts to deconstruct popularly-held beliefs and attitudes about words or language. For example, despite its casual use in conversation, Glass writes about the problem in using “retarded” to signify that something is bad or stupid. What’s more, he takes on the anti-PC crowd that seems to think it’s brave for embracing archaic turns of phrases and slang, and upends the argument that holding on to these terms is somehow subversive. Because language and rhetoric is key to his work, he does a lot of insightful examination of word usage and word choice. This passion obviously intersects with his interests in social justice and social progressive ideology. I’m not saying that Todd Glass is a liberal – in doesn’t really matter what his politics are – because his righteous feelings of what’s right and wrong are clear.
But deconstructing language and comedy isn’t the only interesting part of the book. In his title, Glass chose to include the words “lies” and “true stories.” Important word choices because the two are essential when looking at how someone lives a closeted life. Glass writes of his upbringing being supportive and the horror stories of being ostracized and kicked out don’t appear in this work. Still, his torment is no less acute because he writes about a self-loathing that is expertly conveyed on page. He has a partner throughout most of the book who lives with Glass in his splintered life, pretending to be a “roommate” and Glass even has women pose as girlfriends. All these are classic, almost obligatory rights of passage for gay people.
Though funny on stage, on paper, he’s more thoughtful. Which means that The Todd Glass Situation isn’t a hilarious knee-slapper like Tina Fey’s Bossypants or any of David Sedaris’ books. That doesn’t mean it’s not as enjoyable or thoughtful. It is. But Glass’ humor works best when he’s delivering it with his effusive charm and his roaring voice. Still, I’m nitpicking because overall, I found The Todd Glass Situation to be extremely readable and hard to put down.