How do you top the current comedy staple of the "gay best friend?" How about TWO gay best friends! With some additional gay friends sprinkled in for good measure! How is it that no one has thought of this before?
Yes, it may seem strange to jump right in and talk about the supporting characters, but the thing that makes Gayby
a must-see isn't its set-up. Oh, the set-up is fine - a woman whose biological clock has limited snoozes left decides to conceive a child with her gay best friend - but stop me if you've heard that one before. Yeah, it seems familiar, but writer-director (and one of the hilarious gay friends) Jonathan Lisecki is like a great jazz musician: take a familiar tune, run through it once, then make some magic.
Jenn, the would-be breeder, is a nice melange of New York City stereotypes. She's an overthinking neurotic, sure, but also a yoga instructor. She also has workplace aspirations but a mean, bitch boss (the Devil Wears Leotards.) Her best friend Matt is an aspiring comic book writer, working in a comic book shop and isn't quite over his ex who works at a comic book publisher. (There's some Johnny Storm jokes that just kill.)
Matt agrees to provide his seed, but Jenn's desire to do it as nature intended is the first in an ever-increasing series of comic complications. Luckily, each of them have a gay friend they can turn to (one is a twink, the other a bear, if I may use such expressions) and when you toss in a few other urbane characters (like a spiritual house painter and a purveyor of horny goat weed) there bursts a Niagara Falls of zings and expertly delivered one-liners.
The ensemble is all very strong and features some welcome faces (hey, there's Adam from Girls
! There's Charlie from The West Wing
!) but it's Lisecki's writing that really shines through. Given the somewhat "let's put on a show" framework of the film, you can practically see him at the other end of his keyboard cracking himself up, or better yet, cutting 'em up at cocktail parties and thinking "I better sock that one away for later." I've seen an number of funny films so far this year, but, on a per capita basis, anyway, I don't think there's been anything with quite as many writerly triumphs as Gayby
. (Lisecki is also wise enough to give himself some of the best lines.)
Something else I admire about Gayby is that it never gets maudlin. We're of an age now where (at least in civilized circles) gay subject matter does not need to carry the baggage of sadness. The shadow of politics, disease and malignant outsider- ness isn't really at work here. Which is not to say Gayby doesn't make its statements! The film will leave you shocked, shocked in its portrayal of multiple aspects of the gay community. (A rainbow within the rainbow.) Our lead is actually somewhat shy, loves comic books and is not hopping in the sack with every hunk who makes a pass at him. Wait, that's not a stereotype! That's a real person!
isn't a game-changer, but it is a fantastic first feature for a major new comedy voice. If I were the president of a cable network I'd be throwing hefty bags of money at him to develop adult ensemble comedies. Catch Gayby
so you can brag that you were a fan since the beginning.
Gayby is playing at a number of festivals throughout the summer - including Rooftop Films in Brooklyn - before a theatrical and VOD release this fall.