Wes Perry's one-man show, Don't Act Like A Girl, is his baby. He is the writer, actor, producer, costume designer, poster designer and whatever-else-needs-to-be-done person. Perry, who describes his comedy style as a mix of Whoopi Goldberg and Ella Fitzgerald, has been getting rave reviews for his performance. The show is performed on Sundays and ends its current run at The Annoyance Feb. 12, but Perry is hoping to put it on again in the summer.
Windy City Times: How would you describe the show?
Wes Perry: Almost like cabaret-esque. It is kind-of like a David Sedaris reading interspersed with a Chaka Khan concert.
WCT: Tell me about the inspiration for the title Don't Act Like A Girl.
Wes Perry: The title specifically refers to the fact that my dad used to tell me that when I was really little, [but] not in the typical movie-style gruff dad, "Don't act like a girl or I'll throw you out of the house;" it was never like that. It was more like when your parents say "Stop picking your nose." If I was laughing too loudly or playing with my long-curly hair, he'd say, "Don't act like a girl," just in that same tone. The last time that he ever said that to me was when I came out at 13. He said, "That's fine. I love you just the same; that's who you are. We just don't want you acting like a girl." And I never heard him say that to me again.
WCT: Have your parents seen the show?
Wes Perry: No! I've banned my parents from the show. My mom asked me when was a good time to fly out and come, and I said "Never."
WCT: Why is that?
Wes Perry: I do talk about them. A lot of the show is about how they put me on medication when I was really little. I was a kid in the '90s, where everyone was being diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, learning disabilities of this or that kindand I was thrown into that category when I was really little. And I sort-of kept on that traingiven a lot of medicationsuntil, ultimately, when I was in high school and I went to fat camp and I was on like four or five antipsychotics and antidepressants, and I overdosed by accident.
WCT: What's part of the show are you most proud of?
Wes Perry: It feels like a rock concert. I think what's so great for me is that I picked all these songs that I like and all these really personal stories, and I'm just presenting myself. I enjoy doing it and that people enjoy watching it is extra special.
WCT: What is the feel of the show?
Wes Perry: I want the show to be a celebration of life. That sounds so cheesy, but when you're in heels it's fine.
WCT: There is a three-person band in the show. Were they people that you knew?
Wes Perry: I met the pianist/musical director, Charlie Worth, at The Annoyance. We worked on a little show together there, and I emailed him about my idea for the show. I thought it would be great if I could have maybe a drummer or a guitarist and he was like, "I've got both," and he called up his friends and they were nice enough to do it.
WCT: How has the audience response been?
Wes Perry: After opening night someone said that the show was great and that it was just, "You being the truest you." I'll have some people come up to me and tell me that "it's such a wonder that I turned out so well" and other people will be like, "I was on the same medication that you wereI've lived it."
WCT: Will there be another run of the show?
Wes Perry: I think what the plan is now is that we are going to try and put it up again in the summer. We've gotten great response. We might rework it a little again.
WCT: Have you learned anything from doing the show?
Wes Perry: The show ends when I'm in high school and my senior year of high school. I had so much confidenceI was like the gayest person in my high school and I didn't care. … By my senior year of high school I really did not care what people thought of me. When I was writing the show I realized that I missed that. Now I'm older and I just can't help caring what people think. I like to be able to go back to that world and remember how good that felt and also how much easier life is when you are yourself and don't care what other people think.
WCT: What do you think people can most take away from seeing the show?
Wes Perry: By me being myself, I can inspire other people to be more themselves. Does that sound too Oprah? I think that is infectious. When you see someone do something that they want to dono matter what people thinkI think that's always inspiring to me.
Don't Act Like a Girl concludes at The Annoyance Theatre & Bar, 4830 N. Broadway, on Sunday, Feb. 12, at 9:30 p.m. See annoyancetheatre.thundertix.com to purchase tickets ($5-$10).