‘Throwing Shade’ sheds irreverent comedic light on some important issues
The term “throwing shade” is a term all the kids are using to describe the fine art of putting someone down in public.
Examples range from Taylor Swift’s unmistakable diss during Harry Styles’ acceptance speech at Sunday’s VMAs (awesomely caught on camera) to Lloyd Bentsen telling young Dan Quayle that he is “no Jack Kennedy” at a vice presidential debate. When it comes down to it, if you’re throwing shade, you’d better have the attitude to back it up. Some are more talented at this than others.
Enter Erin Gibson and Bryan Safi, two L.A.-based comics best known for “Throwing Shade,” a podcast that combines their respective feminist and gay-rights segments from the Current TV program “InfoMania.”
“We are superficial people who give a s—,” says Safi over the phone from California. “But Erin and I definitely do not keep up with the Kardashians. Our L.A. people are down-to-earth.”
“It’s lowbrow and highbrow,” adds Gibson. “All we care about with the podcast is being entertaining. We did a whole tribute to [Scientology defector] Leah Rimini. We are pop culture addicts.”
One recurring “InfoMania” segment, “Modern Lady.” served as a vehicle for Gibson’s sex-positive, whip-smart brand of feminism, where the comedienne railed against attitudes about women (from the makings of a sexy Halloween costume to those of a perfect wife).
Likewise, Safi’s “That’s Gay” was the perfect vehicle for his brilliant dismantlements of homophobia in the media, be it gay-therapy apps for iPhone (yes, that existed, though it’s now banned) or troglodytic DOMA comments from politicians. It’s shade thrown so well, you want to watch it in slow motion.
And while Current TV is now defunct (it recently became, somewhat controversially, Al Jazeera America) fans of Gibson (who has appeared on “Chelsea Lately” and “Parks and Recreation”) and Emmy-winner Safi (who has written for Funny or Die and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”) can still keep up with these lovable degenerates at their website (www.throwingshade.com).
And, according to Gibson, it’s not so bad starring on an Internet show. “Now we are back to talking about things like putting hands in butts,” she says.
Gibson and Safi are taking “Throwing Shade” on the road, hitting Cambridge’s Oberon, where the two promise to both delight and horrify audience members with a discussion that might include anything from an adult version of “Would You Rather,” to a serious breakdown of this week in media to a roast of Cambridge’s denizens.
But, ultimately, by throwing shade, what Gibson and Safi are really doing is shedding light. “I think that [women’s and gay issues] intersect in that homophobia is just misplaced misogyny. People are afraid of femininity. We are both huge groups of people who have been maligned,” says Safi, reflecting on the abundance of hate and ignorance that people in power throw out into the media every week. “Unfortunately, and fortunately, there is always something to talk about.”
If you go
‘Throwing Shade Live’
August 29, 8 p.m.
2 Arrow St., Cambridge