Pictured (from left): Jamie Hebert, Zion, and Alec Mapa (with their two dogs)
For Showville, Mapa's new reality TV show on AMC, the comedian swoops into eight small U.S. towns, even in "the well-armed, Jesus-filled center of America," and holds auditions for a talent show. Mapa mentors the four finalists who compete for a chance to win $10,000.
But it's not just the finalists receiving life lessons, Mapa has also been learning to be open-minded himself. As he explains, in Oklahoma a man auditioned while wearing a giant-size black cowboy hat and had a quality that caused Mapa to think of Fred Phelps. Then the man sang about the Rapture.
"Everything in me is like, Oh, great, I'm going to die of a hate crime here," Mapa told The Advocate in a recent interview. When the producers announced the cowboy was a finalist, Mapa had another surprise. "The first thing he does is he runs up onstage and he hugs me, like a big bear hug, lifts me up off the floor," Mapa remembers. "And I'm like, Uh, OK, who is the judgmental bigoted person here?"
That's not the only new experience (tinged with religion) in Mapa's life. He and his filmmaker husband, Jamie Hebert, are also the proud fathers of their adopted son, Zion. Their son has influenced Mapa's stand-up act, Baby Daddy, which is devoted to his life as father, and Hebert just finished work on "Family Restaurant," a short film in which Zion lends voice to one of the characters.
Mapa used to not think he could have it all--a career, a husband, and a house with a son--but now that he's helping other people's dreams come true in small ways, he's also discovered his own are coming true, too.
Showville premiered May 23 on AMC. Watch a clip below: