January 5, 2012

Transgender comic sees the humor

It wasn't always so, but now Ian Harvie can laugh at his story, and make others laugh, too.

By Avery Yale Kamila akamila@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

No one likes a public restroom. However, imagine using the ladies room all your life and suddenly shifting to the men's.

click image to enlarge

Ian Harvie


WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Portland Stage Company, 25 Forest Ave.

HOW MUCH: Sold out



This is just one of the unusual facets of transgender comedian and Maine native Ian Harvie's life that he'll share with the audience during his stand-up comedy show Saturday at Portland Stage.

"I want to confirm it for all the ladies out there -- it is far grosser in the men's room than the ladies room," Harvie said. "Women in the ladies room are so quiet. Women will never number two in the ladies room. Guys are just gross. I now know what a man noise is, and if you want to know what it is, you have to come to the show."

The performance, which will include guest appearances by Margaret Cho, Selena Luna and Christine O'Leary, is set to be filmed and turned into a TV special called "Super Hero."

"Most everyone these days, even the big comics, they produce their own comedy specials and sell them to networks," said Harvie, who grew up in Maine and now lives in Los Angeles. "A network isn't going to pay you to do it, so you produce an independent comedy film and then you sell it to a network."

He has his sights set on Showtime, but HBO and Comedy Central are also on his pitch list.

Audience members will have to sign release forms, because shots of their reactions will be a key part of the edited video. The film will be directed by Liam K. Sullivan, with Cho as executive producer.

Harvie got his start in the business 10 years ago in Portland, where he took a comedy writing class with Tim Ferrell at The Comedy Connection.

"I don't do drugs or drink anymore," he said, "but stand-up was the best high I'd ever had."

He quickly realized that stand-up comedy was his passion. However, he was unsure about his material.

"I was already a year into recognizing I was transgender," Harvie said. "I was out to my family and friends. I told (Ferrell), 'I'm afraid I'll be eaten alive on stage if I tell them who I am.' He said, 'The audience will feed off you. As long as it's your story, it can't be wrong.' "

The advice gave him the confidence to use the unique material from his own life in his routine.

Four years ago, Harvie moved to Los Angeles to pursue his career. One of the first people he met was Cho, and has since toured the world with her. Last summer, he organized a comedy festival in Bethel, and will do the same this year.

The stage set for the "Super Hero" show is being created by L.L. Bean photo stylist Mahlia Carey, and will feature materials borrowed from the Architectural Salvage showroom.

Expect the two-hour show to cover a lot of ground.

"I talk about family, I talk about my previous substance abuse, I talk about sex, I talk a little about my own personal politics," Harvie said. "I've used humor to walk through my transitional process. Before transitioning to the handsome bloke I am today, I spent 30 or so odd years of my life feeling ugly. I felt very freakish.

"Now I embrace and love myself in a way I never had. I'm finally on the outside who I always felt I was, and I've made a really funny story about it."

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at:


Twitter: AveryYaleKamila


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