Tyler Perry—creator of the hugely popular Madea series of plays and, now, movies—is the latest guest on the Oprah sofa. The interview was fairly lackluster, but a later comedy routine with his alter ego of Madea Simmons was truly hilarious and The Malcontent offers a full video clip. Tyler was on the show to promote his latest movie Madea's Family Reunion.
It's more than somewhat ironic that Tyler Perry has based his act on a legendary Atlanta female impersonator (Ms. Sophia McIntosh, profiled here), performs as Madea in a dress and wig, yet, the scripts often take potshots at gays. Hopefully the film adaptation will lack the gay jokes that have become standard operating procedure in plays such as Family Reunion. ("Is your son still playing with Barbie dolls? Or has he graduated to playing with Ken?") For the most part, the musicals are inspirational, family-oriented and based in the traditions of the black church. But, as many of us have learned from experience, that can also mean that the humor can be judgmental and elitist.
Tyler's segment was neatly divided into two parts. The first part contained the intro, clips and the predictable interview. The second part was much more interesting; with Tyler Perry
supposedly sitting on the set, Madea Simmons appeared "Live via Satellite" from her home in Atlanta. (Actually, we all know that Tyler lives in an Alpharetta mansion, but why quibble.) The talk back with Oprah, the audience, and "Tyler" was hilarious—especially when Tyler asked his alter ego for advice on dating a woman. Almost anyone from Atlanta will that ... let's just say amusing.
The stage version of Madea's Family Reunion is one of our fave Madea plays;
Terrell Carter's solo is spectacular, plus he looks almost as good, if not better, than his voice. (Which is, well, spectacular.) Of course, Tamela and David Mann, as Cora and Mr. Brown, are remarkable. Unfortunately, none of these people will be incorporated into the film adaptation. The movie version of Family Reunion will boast a galaxy of gay-familiar names—Lynn Whitfield, Boris Kodjoe, Henry Simmons, Jenifer Lewis, Cicely Tyson and Maya Aneglou. The soul and the music will be out, the stars will be in. Nothing new there.
In more ways than one, this was a gay show. Before Tyler-slash-Madea appeared in wig and make-up to offer dating advice, Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal sat on the sofa to talk Brokeback Mountain and The Malcontent offers has another great clip of the segment. Readers familiar to these pages will recall Oprah segments where we have called her to task for being gay-friendly but not gay-literate. We've always thought that perhaps Oprah was much more comfortable around gay men and gay topics that were not black-oriented—especially steering clear of black men who were closeted. But it seems that we aren't the only ones who've noticed this. The mainstream (okay, white) gay audiences are not necessarily singing her praises after the Brokeback interview: Lady O seemed to be pre-occupied with their same-sex kiss and worries that the actors wouldn't be typecast. The comments section at Towleroad and The Malcontent—who has the video clip—are heated with debate on the interview.
A big muah and thanks to The Malcontent for video and screen caps!
Chinese censors ban Brokeback but okay Memoirs of a Geisha. Just last week, director Ang Lee—born in Taiwan—was hoping for approval, saying that Asian audiences were possibly more receptive to gay themes.