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Petite comic actor, writer and former NBC star Leslie Jordan is banking on the success of rural-set TV shows like “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” and “Hillbilly Handfishin’” to get a green light for a script he’s recently penned.
“City people are fascinated with the rural South,” Jordan told me in a recent interview. “There is nobody that can write the rural South better than me.”
He will debut a new, holiday-themed one-man show at The Rrazz Room in San Francisco, beginning Tuesday. Jordan said “Fruit Fly” will answer the age-old question, “Do gay men become their mothers?”
His latest show—after critical successes like “My Trip Down the Pink Carpet” and “Deck Them Halls Ya’ll,” was birthed after Jordan’s twin sisters discovered a box of old color slides. Once they were blown up, he was fascinated by the detail and began writing about the childhood scenes within those Kodak moments.
Jordan is the baby of the family and his parents were the babies of theirs, so his aunties took great joy in dolling him up in all sorts of creative attire.
“This is the 1950s and you can see every detail down to the tchotchkes,” Jordan said. “It’s a queen’s delight. People stare at those pictures and sometimes I think they’re not listening to me!”
Jordan said he has been spinning yarns about his colorful family and outrageous life in show business for as long as he can remember.
“I have such a vivid imagination. At one point, my mother did say, ‘Son, that’s a lie. That didn’t happen, OK?’ I really realized I had a gift,” he said.
In between the San Francisco premiere for “Fruit Fly” and filming an adaptation of playwright Del Shores’ “Southern Baptist Sissies,” Jordan is shopping his latest script to major networks. It’s a far turn from his usual writing, and centers on a 24-year-old man who returns home from Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder. Jordan has written a nice little role for himself, though.
“I will steal the show and win the Emmy,” Jordan insisted.
It won’t be his first, as Jordan won a 2006 Emmy for the NBC sitcom “Will and Grace,” on which he played Beverly Leslie, the flamboyant—yet closeted—frenemy to Megan Mullally’s Karen Walker.
He did say he’s a little concerned that many of the young, gay men he meets these days are not familiar with that groundbreaking sitcom.
“It just went off the air in 2006!” Jordan laughed. “If they say they don’t know ‘Will and Grace,’ I say, ‘Give me your gay card!’”
Jordan said “Fruit Fly” is really his mother’s journey, and added that she definitely gets into decorating for the holidays.
“Are you kidding? I used to say her apartment looked like Laura Ashley threw up in there! It’s taken a turn for the glitter! We’re talking gold carpet and a lot of guilds. It looks like New Orleans whorehouse!”
One recent Christmas, Jordan’s mother suggested they have an open house on Christmas. He said it was hell.
“These people are in our home, and we didn’t like them back then! Why would we like them now? Mother said, ‘Let’s never do this again,’” he said.
Jordan added that these days, they just get into their pajamas and lay around the house and it’s the best.
“My family is full of gregarious recluses,” Jordan joked.
Leslie Jordan will perform “Fruit Fly at the Rrazz Room in Hotel Nikko Dec. 18 through 22. Visit therrazzroom.com for more information.
Corey Andrew has been interviewing comedians and writing about comedy for the last decade and a half. He recently published the book, “Laugh Lines: Conversations with Comedians.” Corey was a writer and performer with Midwest sketch troupe, The NonProphets, before moving to the Bay Area with his family several years ago. If you have ideas for future columns about comedy, you can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/coreywrites.