Comedian Jeffrey Jay brings activism to ‘Boro

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, October 24th, 2018 at 5:58 PM

Comedian Jeffrey Jay performed on Oct. 18 at Edinboro’s Cyber Cafe. Jay is both a comedian and a transgender advocate and informer. 

Jay is from Texas City, Texas. His mother is a conservative judge in the city. He now lives in Texas with his partner and his stepdaughter. Jay says that he always had an interest in comedy. “I kind of always knew I wanted to; it was all about taking the leap.” 

Jay started his comedic career in sports bars about 10 years ago, before he made his transition. 

“I started in sports bars there when nobody knew what trans was back then,” Jay said. He talked about how he would perform with the these big TVs behind him, and how he would often mistake touchdown cheers for approval.

 “They would scream and shout,” Jay said. “I would say that was a good joke. I would then turn around and realize the Cowboys had just scored a touchdown.” 

Now, Jay capitalizes on his differences, his story as a transgender man and his transition. “I was a white girl and had money,” Jay said. “So I had no problems, so I wasn’t very funny. Once I transitioned, I had problems and everyone can relate in to problems.” 

It wasn’t until he was confronted after one of his shows that he considered being an LGBTQ+ educator alongside his comedic career. “I had no interest in educating people whatsoever. I was just telling jokes and talking about my life,” Jay said. “Then my management company found me. They said, ‘wow, this is amazing, people could learn a lot from you.’” 

Jay’s interaction with the EUP students was critical to his show. Not only would he address uncomfortable topics for people to talk about, but he opened the floor at the end of this show for questions about anything they wanted to know. “There is no offensive question you could ask me that I haven’t heard,” he said. He even joked about offering $100 to anyone who could ask him a question he hasn’t heard before. 

 At the end of the show, Jay told students that if they’d like, they could see the pictures of him before he transitioned. He told people the “dos” and “don’ts” when it comes to people of the trans community. Overall, his goal was to make people feel comfortable and let them know that if they were curious about anything, he was happy to help them. “I just wanted to tell jokes, and not get a real job. But then I got to [do] something so incredible. It’s amazing.”

Anisa Venner-Johnston can be reached at ae.spectator@gmail.com.

Tags: arts, jeffrey jar

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