After two hit television series and a groundbreaking new film that seems to be a bona fide critical darling, it seems hard to believe comedian Billy Eichner could ever have struggled to get his career off the ground.
But during a recent appearance on Conan O'Brien's podcast Conan Needs a Friend, Eichner revealed in his early days he was constantly told he was "too gay" to be on television.
Hear him tell the story below.
Billy Eichner Was Told He Was "Too Gay" To Be On TV | Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend youtu.be
Eichner told O'Brien during meetings about adapting one of his stage shows for television, producers and executives all reacted the same way.
“They would acknowledge that I was talented or that they thought I was funny — that the audience was laughing a lot, that I was unique and this, that, and the other thing, but it was always, you know, ‘We don’t know what to do with you, you’re very New York'.”
Eichner went on to say these included frequent swipes at his sexual identity and gay sensibilities.
“And a lot of times in both overt ways and subtle ways, I was sent the message that I was just too gay. I was being openly gay on stage. I was talking about gay sex."
"Now everyone’s talking about gay sex. But this is 2003. Right?”
O'Brien joked this was the time when actors "were losing roles to dinosaurs," a reference to the ABC sitcom Dinosaurs, to which Eichner quipped:
“Dinosaurs were f*cking on screen, but I wasn’t allowed too."
Those executives' hesitance proved to be a huge miscalculation.
Clips from Eichner's hugely popular Billy On the Street web and television series still regularly go viral long after the show went off the air. His Hulu sitcom with collaborator Julie Klausner Difficult People was a critical darling.
And now, Eichner is headlining a groundbreaking film he also wrote and produced called Bros, the first gay romcom with an all LGBTQ+ cast ever produced by a major studio.
And on Twitter, there is no shortage of excitement for the milestone film.
\u201cI love @billyeichner \ud83e\udd72 I\u2019m genuinely happy for this man like I know him personally and we\u2019re friends. Y\u2019all just don\u2019t understand.\u201d— Unfriendly Black Hottie (@Unfriendly Black Hottie) 1664058013
I am a straight married man and I, for one, cannot wait to see you on the big screen again. This movie looks hysterical and just what America needs right now. Can't wait for next Friday!
— Jeff Ponder (@jponder94) September 23, 2022
Straight male here. Can't wait to support the great Billy and what looks to be a great comedy.
— MovieFan73 (@shanshu73) September 23, 2022
\u201cjust saw bros and while i wish billy eichner was next to me the entire time yelling \u201care you laughing?!?! are you laughing??!?!\u201d happy to report it\u2019s the only funny movie in forever\u201d— Abby Barr (@Abby Barr) 1663805012
\u201cBROS is lovely & made me cry, its very important to me that billy eichner finds happiness on and off screen\u201d— Clarisse Loughrey (@Clarisse Loughrey) 1663791180
\u201c"Confidence is a choice like any other. No one's born confident. No one's born insecure or fearful. We make those choices as we go."\n\nBilly Eichner delivers a powerful monologue about confidence in BROS & I was curious about his own catharsis performing that. @billyeichner #Bros\u201d— Kevin McCarthy (@Kevin McCarthy) 1664210297
\u201cBilly Eichner\u2019s new movie Bros has radicalized me thank you so much billy\u201d— Jack Rhapsody (@Jack Rhapsody) 1663823578
Bros opens in wide release this weekend and already has a 91% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
So yeah, that whole "too gay" thing?