With the unending deluge of content being added to YouTube every second, it takes balls to throw your own creative jewels into the mix and hope that someone will decide to cash in on your work like a Malfoy visiting Gringotts. Yet, that is exactly what the aspirational Ken Arpino is doing with his new series The Queens Project, which is a small part of a larger vision he's termed It Gets Funnier. Arpino hopes it will soon be “the premier LGBT website for viewing, sharing, and delivering daily comedic content written and/or performed by gay artists.”
Despite his musical theater background, the harsh reality (or relative impossibility) of being a working Broadway actor began to take a toll, according to Arpino. This led him to the realization that he desperately needed a change. “I got myself into UCB (that’s Upright Citizens Brigade) and realized that the comedy world was where I wanted to be,” Arpino says. Ever since then, he hasn’t looked back. Yet, the world of comedy left Arpino feeling somewhat isolated. “When I started looking for other gay comedians to kind of support and gain inspiration from, or whatever, it was kind of hard to find.”
So, he decided to create It Gets Funnier. His mission for the website is simple. It’ll house a collection of LGBTQ created material. “Where it’s kind of like family-friendly gay comedy that uses gay not as in ‘we’re gay,’ but just that there happens to be characters that happen to be gay,” Arpino explains. “I’m hoping to open It Gets Funnier up to anybody who has comedy aspirations." Obviously, the name of the company is drawn from the concept of the Trevor Project’s It Gets Better. Yet, Arpino adds that it is important to recognize that, as he says: “You can laugh!” adding, “I remember being at a point where I thought, if I could go and talk to my teenage self I would say, ‘You’re going to laugh about a lot of this. Just get through it. You’re going to laugh at yourself, at the people around you — you’re going to laugh.’”
As we all know, it’s not enough to just dream up an idea though. Naturally, you have to put your nose to the grindstone and start working. Enter his first show, The Queen’s Project.
There is simply no denying that the best and most refreshing aspect of The Queen’s Project is that the gay characters in the show are simply people. They aren’t stereotypes like Jack from Will & Grace or the men on Showtime’s Queer as Folk. “If your storyline is hinging on gay stereotypes, you’re not really representing the community,” Aprino says. “It is just characters who fall in love or out of love, fight, have a bad work day, and they just happen to be gay — how they react to it is all natural, and their sexuality is not their defining character trait.” This is not to say that stereotypes are not present in the series, but it is imperative to recognize that the ones present are just who the characters are.
So what does this all mean? “I guess my message to the community is, Send us your funny stuff.’ We’ll laugh together, be creative, and have a good time,” Arpino says. “And, if you were like me, and feel like it’s over — and you have to find a new career — it’s not. Find what makes you happy and do it.”