About five years ago, comedian Kevin Maye met comedian Scott Kennedy and fell in love. They developed the Gay Comedy Jam and hit the road. While touring in Seattle, Mr. Maye was diagnosed with AIDS.
Two years ago, he put it in the act.
"It's not that I'm joking about AIDS or HIV. There's nothing funny about it," Mr. Maye says. "I'm talking about this to let them know that people are not just dying from AIDS anymore, we're actually living with it."
Monday, Mr. Maye and Mr. Kennedy perform at the Comedy House Theatre, 2740 Washington Road.
The Augusta performance stop is one of 14 a month for Mr. Maye. He's tired all the time.
"By this time in 1997 everyone in the gay and lesbian community knows someone who has died of AIDS or has it," Mr. Maye says. "Every single friend that I have had, with the exception of one, has died of AIDS. I have got one name left in my address book."
In his act he says that he just got back from his monthly checkup and that the doctors say his T-cells have doubled.
This usually gets applause.
He now has two. Most people have a thousand.
"I've named them Thelma and Louise, because if there's anything like a lesbian T-cell, I've got it in my body," he jokes.
He talks about the things people with AIDS worry about. Like death. As soon as he was diagnosed, his first worry was who was going to take care of his 16-year-old red tabby cat, Alex.
"I plan on being here a long time, but if anything does happen to me, I asked Scott to please not make an AIDS quilt with my name on it. I'm more of a throw-pillow kind of person. I don't want one of those cutesy memorial services, just put a cigarette smoldering in the ashtray in the corner. That'll be my memorial."
That's funny, he says.
And it's how he feels.
"He's one strong guy," says Mr. Kennedy. "I wouldn't be doing it. I'm weak, I guess."
The traveling's hard on Mr. Maye. He takes 22 pills a day, some with food, some without. Some three times a day, some twice. And he has to make sure the ice pack's keeping his daily I-V refrigerated.
But this show is Mr. Maye's dream. He's doing what he loves to do, he says.
"I just want to have a comfortable life to spend with somebody and raise as many cats as I possibly can," Mr. Maye says. "That's the gay man's dream."
The show's not just AIDS-oriented. It's two gay men talking about being gay. They've sold out in Houston; Birmingham, Ala.; Columbia; and other cities.
Mr. Maye talks about his family, and coming out to his mom - who he really thought always knew he was gay, even though she says she didn't.
"I said, Mom, come on, I had the deluxe E-Z Bake oven set - the other kids were hawking chocolate bars and I was making deluxe truffles and having tea dances in my tree house," he jokes.
There were also a few other tell-tale signs, he says.
"I was such a sensitive child. I would never even play hangman. I would always play lethal injection man - it was so much more humane."
Then there's Mr. Kennedy's act. No AIDS. No E-Z bake oven jokes.
He's not that kind of guy.
"He looks like your Uncle Buck, ex-football player guy," Mr. Maye says.
Yup, Mr. Kennedy says. He's a tobacco-chewing redneck, "or pink neck," he says. He went to military school.
They've been on HBO, Comedy Central, A&E and PBS.
Right now their audience is about 70 percent gay, but they'd like more straight people to come. Funny is funny. It doesn't matter if you're gay or straight, they say.
"If you're gay it may be special to you," Mr. Kennedy says. "But it's not like it's a show that's going to be in Spanish. You'll still understand everything."
Usually they have a local lesbian comic open for them. But they've had trouble finding one.
"A good lesbian's hard to find in Augusta, Georgia," Mr. Maye says. "In a small town like that it's not like you can pick up the Yellow Pages under lesbian comics and call one up. But we're still looking."