Out comedian Guy Branum is returning to Chicago with a brand new zany stand up act.
Hailing from Yuba City, California, he went to college at the University of California, Berkley and later studied at the University of Minnesota Law School.
Branum is the creator and host of truTV's Talk Show The Game Show and was a regular panelist on Chelsea Lately on the E! network for many years.
He worked with Joan Rivers on the show Fashion Police, and has written for both The Mindy Project and Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell.
As an actor, he played Natalie Portman's friend on the film No Strings Attached.
His first comedy album, Effable, came out in 2015 and his first book, My Life As a Goddess, was published last year.
Windy City Times: Is Guy your real name?
Guy Branum: Yes. I was named about my grandpa, who was named after some dude in his town. Sometimes people will say, "Hi, Guy" and I will think they know me. That can be very confusing.
WCT: How was it being on Chelsea Lately? Do you still speak to Chelsea Handler?
GB: I saw Chelsea a few weeks ago at a party at Sarah Silverman's house. We texted about her making a tuna casserole just a few days ago.
I had a successful writing career, but my stand-up career hadn't taken off back then. One time, I was feeing down and Chelsea popped into my office and asked me if I was ready to do the round table. After I did it, a lot more people knew who I was and I got more comfortable being on television. It was a great education in TV. She is a very generous and honest person. That can be rough, but also be great!
WCT: Have you spent much time in Chicago in the past?
GB: I have been there for shows. Chicago is a reminder that Minneapolis would be more fun if they had more Catholics. Minneapolis is a bit too responsible and Chicago knows how to have a good time. My friends and I will go from LA to Market Days frequently.
WCT: What are some hot topics that you will cover at your stand up show?
GB: People think Trump is a good topic for stand up, but you can't make a holocaust joke when the holocaust is happening!
Most of the time I just talk about myself and my own life. I will talk about pop culture and politics. A lot of current things going on are hard to scoff at because it needs to be taken seriously.
WCT: Do you feel you have to be careful about what you say onstage? Back when Joan Rivers was doing it, she would get away with a lot.
GB: I worked with Joan on Fashion Police. It was interesting to see what she would or wouldn't go after. In my book My Life As a Goddess, I quote a joke I made that was terrible and very mean. It was about fat people and I'm fat myself. Joan said she would not do the joke. I respected that.
Audiences are changing. As a queer comic, things are better for me now than they were 10 or 15 years ago. Back then I couldn't even say I was gay and have it be true.
A lot of these straight, white guys who are complaining about how things have gotten too censored these days weren't complaining when it wasn't about them.
WCT: Did you come out of the closet in college?
GB: No, I was in law school. I was in the Bay area and decided to stay in the closet for four years when in college. It was really dumb.
WCT: I was in the closet in college.
GB: So many of us were. It was a different time.
I get annoyed at TV today when they say everyone is out and there are no issues. There are kids even in big cities, like New York, that are in the closet. It is a hard thing to say you will not be a part of mainstream society. There are people out there that say we don't matter. It is too easy to say everything is fixed.
WCT: There are still many celebrities still in the closet as well.
GB: Well, there's that! Isn't it interesting that we make fun of people coming out years after? We will say that we always knew Brian Boitano was gay, but it must have been hard for him to say it.
WCT: Why did you decide to end your podcast Pop Rocket this year?
GB: It was a situation of schedules. It was put together by the Maximum Fun network and not our ideas. They wanted a panel and we did it for five years. One host had to leave, another had a baby and I had to take jobs where I couldn't be there to record on a Monday. I told them to keep going, but the network decided to pull the plug on the whole thing.
WCT: Did you like doing the podcast?
GB: I loved it. I miss having those smart people to bounce my reactions to culture off of. Now when I see Netflix's The Politician or I go see the movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, I am really sad that I don't have them to talk to or the community of listeners.
If I did another podcast I wouldn't do it with four panelists just because it requires a lot of scheduling.
WCT: What are your plans for the rest of this year?
GB: I am coming to Milwaukee in a couple of weeks, then Chicago and Madison for the shows at Zanies. After that, I am probably working on a Netflix show. I can say nothing more about it.
WCT: It feels like everyone has a Netflix show.
GB: It's very true. They make everything now!
Branum will perform at Zanies Comedy Club, 1548 N. Wells St., on Wed., Oct. 23, at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by visiting Chicago.Zanies.com .