Josh Sharp’s ‘Polyp-Free Return to Joe’s Pub’ Challenges White Supremacy and Sex Stigma

Josh Sharp has had to keep his loud, gay mouth shut for most of the summer. Two otolaryngological surgeries and one fewer vocal polyp later, he came out of retirement to sing once again, for one last time, at Joe’s Pub on August 19. What did he learn most from his involuntary season of censorship? “Humans have fuck-all to say.”

Sharp, known for his role as a “citizen journalist” on Comedy Central’s The Opposition with Jordan Klepper, projected video footage of his polyp being zapped by a laser as he sang “She Used to Be Mine” from Waitress. He went on to contextualize his vocal polyp for the New York audience by comparing it to “that guy who gets on the subway wearing a MAGA hat.”

Above all, Sharp is interested in the inane conversations we waste our vocal cords on, especially at a time when white gays, he says, need to have difficult conversations with one another about white supremacy. His set, which featured stories about his reluctance to accept his homosexuality in the South, his pact with God about abstaining from his homosexual desires, his first time masturbating at 18, and his accidental hand job at a men’s spa in Manhattan, was performed in front of his father, who was in the audience.

While it would be easy to misconstrue Sharp’s jokes about gallons of cum and assholes as frivolous and vulgar, his insistence points to a project of de-stigmatizing sex, re-centering the queer liberation project on sex, and creating space in families for discussion around queer sex — if not comfortably at first, then at least authentically. After all, if we can’t get real about sex with those closest to us, how can we get real with them about other intersectional dynamics?

Sharp’s two-part set was bisected by Sydnee Washington (MTV’s Vidiots), whose set investigated why she’s never been asked to be a bridesmaid; Blake Daniel (Spring Awakening), who performed Troye Sivan’s “Bloom” as if the song was about bottoming and poppers; and Bowen Yang (Forever Dog’s Las Culturistas), Sharp’s “hype man” for the evening, whose foot-fetish-obsessed material required me to google “presacral fascia” after I got home.

Backed up by a troupe of shirtless male volunteers from the audience — including his brother — swaying to D’Angelo’s “Untitled (How Does It Feel),” Sharp left his audience with the following exhortation: “White people, talk to white people, and straight guys, put fingers in your butts.”

Sharp’s tight backing ensemble was comprised of Eric Gersen, Steve Whyte, Brendan O’Grady, Mark Goodell, Jacob Sharp, and Phoebe Strole.

“Queers and allies” can find Sharp at Cobra Club on September 8 with long-time comedy partner Aaron Jackson (The Opposition with Jordan Klepper) and Jo Firestone (The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon) for Mrs. Davidson If You’re Nasty: An Ariana Grande Jukebox Musical Starring The Audience. Click here for more information and to buy tickets.

Photo by Melissa Gomez

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