Welcome to Lake Homo High, a high school full of drama with one teacher (Mr. SubBottom), one coach (Coach DomTop), and four students. It’s a school where you can network your way to good grades, audition for America’s Next Top Quarterback, and even earn an H&M gift card during an oral quiz if you can correctly identify the worst way to die (Answer: “Over 30”). Oh, and shocker: everyone is gay.
Just to be clear, this isn’t the next new overpriced alternative artisanal learning center. Lake Homo High is an episodic narrative comedy show happening weekly at Williamsburg’s Annoyance Theater. Its creators and writers, comedians Sam Taggart and Bowen Yang, first worked together on Live on Broadgay, a comedy show they produced where a slew of gay male comedians and one heterosexual female comedian reenact scenes from historically queer media. Lately, it’s been episodes of Sex And The City. Though co-writer Yang was out of town the week I ventured to LHH, I sat down with Taggart at local queer haunt Macri Park to discuss the delightful absurdity I had just witnessed.
Lake Homo High is the first full-length show Taggart has written—he normally does stand-up and characters—but you couldn’t tell by watching it. Though it’s a comedy piece, it doesn’t skimp on details to make room for jokes. Rather, the two exist in harmony: like one of the character’s shirts which cheerily reads “Abortion stops a beating heart,” and the hopeful inclusion of a girl (comedian Ana Fabrega) in the school’s Next Top Quarterback competition, who is eliminated as soon as she steps into the fray. Subtle, but totally effective winks at gay male misogyny. The silliness is rounded out by gay men with the tendency to explode into a pile of clutch purses, and a scientist with a crop top under his lab coat who explores the effects of Lake Homo’s water on glory-hole-prone lab rats.
Taggart and Yang didn’t initially see Lake Homo High as a serial show, but they started thinking about it once they landed on The Annoyance, which often programs longform serial comedy-plays. The form makes a lot of sense, as their biggest influences are heavy-handed teen drama television shows like Degrassi and The OC. It seems only natural they’d create a live show that you want to keep coming back to in order to see what happens next. The show specifically was inspired by a sketch Taggart wrote based on the scene from Degrassi where Marco comes out of the closet.
While Taggart says it’s a lot of work to write a whole new episode each week, it’s ultimately better, as it allows for more topics to be explored than could be possible in a one-off show. “It is weird, because it’s vaguely writing a pilot every week. [But] it’s exciting. I’ve never done a weekly show like this. It’s cool that people come! It’s weird, because I’m also like, who are all these people?” These people, whoever they are, sure seemed to enjoy themselves, as some sitting behind me were shrieking so audibly with laughter it was almost distracting. That’s a victory for a comedy if I ever saw one.
Once the show ends, there’s an in-character talkback conducted by the cast, which was initially to use spare time they had, but it went so well they just kept doing it. The notion of a talkback typically brings up dreadful visions of out-of-touch folks asking obtuse questions or fans being self-indulgent, but this one wisely takes advantage of the performers’s improvisation skills and the tendency for comedy audiences to be wackier than most.
One attendee asked about some of the terminology in the show, which is very Grindr-oriented, inquiring about the people out there who may not understand it. Though it was a fairly facetious question, I did wonder about it for a moment. Taggart said he liked to incorporate the terms without heavy-handedly explaining them, “so whoever’s in the know will know, which is exciting and makes them feel cool for a second. And then it makes the straight people, the ones who don’t get it, be like ‘Why don’t I get that? I’m supposed to know everything!’”
Understandably, Taggart doesn’t have much time to think about other projects at the moment, but thinks he may continue down the narrative path again. “At this point, I have nothing else on the horizon but this show. But I have had a good time, I like it as a format, it’s so much easier to write jokes for me when they’re not about myself. Like, the ‘worst way to die’ joke, I have that in my stand-up, and it goes well when people know me, but if no one knows me, they’re like, ‘That’s rude.’ It’s so much easier to be insane [with characters].”
And, like all good television, there may be an inevitable spin-off.
“Originally we wanted it to be half women and half men and then we had no time. It was too many chess pieces to move around,” he says. “But I mean, season two will be all women. And I won’t write it. But someone will.”
Lake Homo High: A Gay Teen Drama continues every Friday until April 15 at The Annoyance Theater, 367 Bedford Ave, Williamsburg. Tickets are $10. More info here.