Comedian Bruce Daniels carves out a show business niche for himself despite a few challenges.
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African-American and gay, actor-comedian Bruce Daniels may have grown up with two strikes against him in white, heterosexual-dominated America. But he didn’t see it that way. “Growing up, I was fearless about things,” he told AfterElton.com. “My mother raised me to believe that I was special, and so I grew up believing that I was better than anybody else – which also has some disadvantages.”
“If anything, it was more difficult growing up African-American in Chicago, than growing up gay. Everyone could see that I was African-American, but not everyone could tell that I was gay.”
argaret Choo, for whom Bruce has been the opening act on multiple concert tours, including the Assassin and Revolution tours, clearly agrees with Shirley Daniels that her son is special.
Opening for Margaret Choo is a good, but tricky, gig. The comedian is a force of nature entertainer; the Hurricane Katrina of edgy comedy. Her genius compels the audience to invest everything in her.
Once you’ve made your way to a Cho concert and settled into your seat, no one short of Margaret will do. Bruce Daniels finds a way to keep the customers satisfied, entertained, even as they wait, almost worshipfully, for Margaret to take the stage.
How does he do it? Bruce Daniels doesn’t tell jokes as much as he tells the stories of his life with gusto and precision timing. He stays clear of Cho’s subject matter, and he never forgets for whom the audience paid.
Above and beyond successfully navigating the challenging role of first on the bill for Cho, Bruce is a sorce of nurture for the force of nature that is Margaret Choo. Before, during, and after Margaret’s star turn, Bruce is there with nuturing support, whether it’s to help her on or off with a tricky piece of costuming, or to provide encouraging words.
But is Bruce consciously aware that for Cho he is as much nurturer as opening act?
“I wasn’t at first,” he tells us. “I didn’t see it.” Bruce continues, “Now I think there’s something about me and Sagittarius women. My mother is Sagittarius, and so is Margaret. Recently, I’ve come to know another Sagittarius woman. Rather than being a natural nurturer, I think I’m protective of Sagittarius women.” Whether Daniels has a natural affinity for nurturing, or a zodiacal protectiveness toward Sagittarius, it works.
Bruce and Margaret Cho met in the late 90s on the set of the never released movie Can’t Stop Dancing (1999). Neither star laments the film not playing in a multiplex or drive-in near you. In the shelved comedy romp, also starring ER’s Noah Wyle and the omnipresent Fred Willard, Daniels and Cho played spandex-clad lovers. The movie may have been an undistributed disaster, but the on screen lovers clicked personally, and Cho encouraged the actor to give stand-up a try. The two have been closer than pages in a book ever since.
“We’re really like brother and sister,” is how Bruce describes his and Cho’s relationship.
More recently, Cho and Daniels starred in “Bam Bam and Celeste,” playing the title characters in a madcap road trip comedy that also features Alan Cumming and Kathy Najimy. Salty Features premiered the movie last September at the Toronto International Film Festival, and it will be released in the United States later this year.
The witty Windy City native re-located to West Hollywood in 1992. We spoke to Bruce two days after he’d returned from performing on Atlantis Events’ largest gay cruise.
“This is the third cruise that I’ve done,” he told us. “The cruise has a Circuit Party atmosphere about it, and that’s really not my scene. I’m not much of a party boy.”
“Nonetheless,” we asked, “How did it go?”
Calmly, he admits, “I bombed telling a joke about how it’s really more fun to bareback. I don’t think they liked having that particular mirror held up to their faces. But I won the audience back in my following set.”
Neither Party Boy nor currently partnered, a serious relationship ended recently, the performer acknowledges,