Painful pokes aside, MacLean has yucked up his sexual orientation for more than a decade, from guest spots on Showtime's Queer as Folk and Nickelodeon's Animorphs to a bit part in the made-for-TV movie Marciano. In the early '90s, he hit the road for a 22-city tour throughout the U.S. and Canada in the one-man show Quarantine of the Mind, in which he tackled the gay community's reaction to AIDS. The tour honed his dry wit on such issues as gays in sports and growing up homo in the '70s. "So that means I lived through platform shoes, green polyester shirts, mood rings, and the Bay City Rollers," MacLean sighs. "Some traumas never heal."
What hurts more are the gibes from "narrow-minded" comedy-club owners, who hire minority comics for shows. "At some clubs, a comic who is gay, female, or ethnic will be introduced in a way that translates: Okay, I think you've had enough to drink to handle our next act," he explains. "As soon as you say, 'I'm a gay comedian,' they see their beer sales going out the window."
But he doesn't let the prejudice tick him off. MacLean has performed at gay clubs and pride festivals from Provincetown to Vancouver, joking about being single, fighting his weight, and "stuff most people relate to." And the irony? "There are many straight people in my audiences, and they enjoy the show as much as anyone else," says MacLean. "Like Neely O'Hara in Valley of the Dolls, I need mass love."