Conan O'Brien | Demetri Martin | Film | News | Playing Gay | Shaquille O'Neal

Demetri Martin, Conan O'Brien, and Shaquille O'Neal Freak Out About Gay Kiss in Taking Woodstock


Demetri Martin appeared on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien last night to talk about his new film Taking Woodstock, based on the memoir by Elliot Tiber, the gay man who helped facilitate the legendary rock fest.

After describing the uncomfortable feeling he got after reading the first couple chapters and discovering he'd be playing a gay man, Martin discussed the horror he felt when he learned he'd have to kiss a man onscreen. Upon hearing that news, Shaquille O'Neal moved away from Martin on the sofa (above), eliciting gales of laughter from Conan and the audience. Here's my rough transcript:

Martin MARTIN: There's a scene in the movie where I have to kiss a guy, where I have to make out with this guy. (big laughter as Shaq moves away on couch) . Ang [Lee], the director said, listen, in that scene you have to kiss a girl first, and then you push her away, and then you kiss the guy. We can cast your girlfriend if you want....So the day comes, and I'm kind of dreading it but I'm like  my girlfriend will be there so that's cool. We do the first take. I kiss my girlfriend, I have to push  push her away. And then I have to go really make out with the guy in front of her. And I hadn't anticipated...

CONAN: The weirdness of doing this in front of your girlfriend.

MARTIN: And then, like eight takes later...we keep doing it over and over again. And it was weird cause it was like girlfriend, push her away, guy, oh yeah I want to kiss you, and then, okay girlfriend again...I had like 500 Altoids that night. I thought it would make a difference.

CONAN: It doesn't really, I know.


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  1. Poor Ang Lee. I'm certain he had no idea this infantile shtick was going to be executed. It casts such a pall on his new movie. It was bad enough when we had endure this nonsense when Brokeback Mountain was released. Here it is three and a half years later and nothing has changed.

    This is where you should hear from GLAAD. Do you think that we will? This idea that same-sex kissing is tantamount to seeing someone disemboweled is so old and lame, but more importantly, grossly insulting. Personally, I'm surprised that Conan went along with this. I thought he was cooler than that. Shaq, a jerk jock, I wouldn't expect anymore from him, but since he's African American it unfortunately adds to the belief that homophobia is more robustly alive in the black community than many would suspect. I wonder how the blacks would react if white men were making the same insulting fuss over kissing a black woman?

    As for Demetri, the producers of Taking Woodstock should take him to the woodshed and then make him apologize profusely. In short, the gay community should not take this lying down. We're fighting to abolish DADT and DOMA and we don't need this mindset that men kissing each other is disgusting. The only thing disgusting is the Neanderthal reaction of three jerks.

    Posted by: Vince | Aug 18, 2009 11:41:40 AM

  2. The real gay guy which the movie/book is based on must feel ashamed to have such a moron playing his part. The Conan bit wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but you can tell they are fishing for pathetic laughs based on the fact that he must kiss a man. "Oh noes! not kissing a man! what shall I do??"

    Posted by: KFLO | Aug 18, 2009 11:47:28 AM

  3. Things like this make it ok for society to continue to laugh and put gay people down and it be accepted by the mainstream.

    Posted by: Dean | Aug 18, 2009 11:54:04 AM

  4. You know? I'm torn. Maybe I'm a bad fag, but I really think everyone has the right to make a fool of themselves every once in a while as long as they can admit it, learn from it and move on. That last time I checked, I was not perfect, have acted stupidly and still have the taste of my own shoe leather in my mouth from the last time I acted an ass.

    Posted by: noteasilyoffended | Aug 18, 2009 11:55:25 AM

  5. Thanks for the link to his Facebook, David. I left a not-so-flattering message. I hope he gets it, but I seriously doubt he will get THE message. Not seeing the movie now. I've had enough, long ago.

    Posted by: RICH | Aug 18, 2009 11:56:42 AM

  6. Martin's comedy is a direct rip off of Mitch Hedberg. Good to see he's of limited talent all around.

    Posted by: princely54 | Aug 18, 2009 11:58:23 AM

  7. Shaq has never been the brightest light on the block and Conan has the comic proficiency of a 4 year old. As for Demetri, you can see his career developing into a stint in the next season or two of DWS. The real problem, for me, is Ang Lee. His gay-themed movies are nothing but bait for awards and developed/targeted exclusively for straight audiences. Not one person above the line in any of the three films (The Wedding Banquet, Brokeback Mountain, Taking Woodstock) is gay. Not one. He won’t cast openly gay actors and instead ends up with punks like Demetri playing gay-panic jokes on late night television. Studio-made movies often add a gay element in the film, without it being well developed or of any importance to the story, and then send the actor to talk to the “gay media” to see if WE will dish out our money, because there is something gay in the film (e.i. He's Just Not That Into You). Taking Woodstock has been de-gayed to the point where there is only that one “yucky” kiss the poor actor had to endure. Sad.

    Posted by: LD | Aug 18, 2009 12:00:09 PM

  8. This is sad to read. I pretty much expected this from someone like Shaq, who has lived his life performing his masculine role, but I'm disappointed in a young person like Demetri. It would have been nice to see some maturity, but I guess not.

    Posted by: corkystclair | Aug 18, 2009 12:01:43 PM

  9. If you think kissing is funny you should see me put on black face, big white lips and all and pick up my banjo. That's funny.

    It will take time for some humans to treat others as human. These individuals are not yet human as they don't know how to treat others as they wish to be treated.

    Posted by: Sargon Bighorn | Aug 18, 2009 12:10:11 PM

  10. Heath Ledger... a real man and a great actor. nuff said...

    Posted by: pete | Aug 18, 2009 12:12:07 PM

  11. Well, with that schnoz he better enjoy any kiss he can get, 'cause there ain't going to be many in his future!

    Posted by: Diogenes | Aug 18, 2009 12:12:56 PM

  12. Pete:

    Amen on Heath!

    God rest his soul.

    Posted by: Vince | Aug 18, 2009 12:14:09 PM

  13. I left a Facebook message also. Congratulated him for making a mockery of homosexuality and branding himself a douchebag. I've soured on seeing the picture, now, too. What a shame.

    Posted by: rascal | Aug 18, 2009 12:14:36 PM

  14. It's a shame too. I'm a big Ang Lee fan but after this I may skip this film. Ah well.

    Posted by: terry | Aug 18, 2009 12:17:56 PM

  15. @AMAEZM - I won't flame you but you don't get it. Because have you ever -- I mean EVER -- heard a talk show host set up a guest to say how uncomfortable they were to have to pretend to kill another human being in an action move? The whole segment is based on the idea that all of them -- and supposedly all of "us" the audience -- agree that kissing another guy is repellent. Dis yo ever see an interview, in all 3 Hannibal movies, where Entony Hopkins hilariously described how uncomfortable he was playing a cannibal and how odd it was to eat his castmates? No. We understand it's acting, but homophobia once again defies logic. Once again American popular culture agrees that a simple kiss is worse than murder. Your country has the maturity of a 13 year old.

    Posted by: Strepsi | Aug 18, 2009 12:28:26 PM

  16. Just sent a Facebook message to Demitri. Everyone should do the same.

    Posted by: rob | Aug 18, 2009 12:36:47 PM

  17. ^ Demitri Martin isn't a "kid," he's 36

    Posted by: sundog | Aug 18, 2009 12:39:19 PM

  18. I was excited about this movie. Now I am considering not going to see it.

    I do not have a problem with straight men playing gay roles. I have a problem with straight homophobic men playing gay roles and obviously not investing in the homosexual side of their characters. Evidently this guy connected with no aspect of the homosexuality in his character. This scene sounds like it will be terrible because we are going to have to watch this guy "acting" out a kiss that he wasnt actually invested in. Could he have not taken cues from Sean Penn and James Franco who have said nothing except that they enjoyed it *that I have caught* about there many make out scenes?

    I don't want to pay money to see bad homophobic acting.

    Posted by: Blaz | Aug 18, 2009 12:41:16 PM

  19. I'm really past the point of tolerance with this 'gay panic' crap. Demetri acts as though kissing a man was the biggest challenge of his life. He's hardly the person that should have been playing that role. The Altoids comment was really offensive. Dear God, I can't get the taste of that guy out of my mouth! Go to hell, Demetri.

    Posted by: David in Houston | Aug 18, 2009 12:42:12 PM

  20. Sent D a message -- and I never watched Conan, anyway, so he's nothing so far as I'm concerned. As for Shaq, what do you expect from an athlete with minimal IQ or any other ability outside of sinking a basket while moving -- because he sure as hell sucks at free-throws -- and got his widdle feewings hurts 'cause Kobe was proving to be just as arrogant as him is so him hads to go to anodder team to be happy?

    Idiots -- all of them.

    Posted by: Kyle Sullivan | Aug 18, 2009 12:43:21 PM

  21. Well Taking Woodstock goes the way of Little Ashes, no need to go see some insecure little shit try to make money of me while telling me I'm gross and disgusting at the same time.

    plus ce change plus ce la meme chose.

    Posted by: Sean | Aug 18, 2009 12:45:49 PM

  22. Did you have to kiss an Asian? A black man? An Irish Catholic? Do you get it yet?

    Posted by: elcamino | Aug 18, 2009 12:45:56 PM

  23. One word "nerds".

    If they think kissing a guy is weird, I wonder what they'd think about me being spit roasted with two cocks in my ass and three guys blasting their cum in my face in a nightclub in London.

    American tv is so vanilla.

    Posted by: Luke | Aug 18, 2009 12:51:56 PM

  24. I have no issues with straight actors playing gay roles. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal invested in their parts in Brokeback Mountain. Granted, their characters were far more sympathetic and lend themselves to a level of seriousness this character in Taking Woodstock does not. Which is probably why this actor finds it acceptable to discuss a gay kiss as something so off putting. I feel like the point he was making was the awkwardness of having to do it in front of his girlfriend. We've heard actors say the same of having to kiss other actresses in front of their girlfriends, so I am not particularly offended by that. But he's definitely pushing the envelope of being simply rude by not being grateful for getting to be a part of the movie and making it sound like he should get a pat on the back for overcoming a hurdle like playing gay.

    Shaq - well color me shocked an African American sports "legend" would be uncomfortable with the gay.

    Posted by: Alex | Aug 18, 2009 1:02:03 PM

  25. Another reason they should have cast the excellent Jason Schwartzman instead of this D-List hipster.

    Posted by: paul c | Aug 18, 2009 1:02:35 PM

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