|The Ambiguously Gay Duo|
The Ambiguously Gay Duo title card
|Created by||Robert Smigel|
J. J. Sedelmaier
|Voices of||Stephen Colbert|
|Narrated by||Bill Chott|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||12 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||≈3 minutes|
|Production company(s)||J.J. Sedelmaier Productions, Inc.|
|Original network||ABC (1996) NBC (1996 – present)|
|First shown in||September 28, 1996|
The Ambiguously Gay Duo is an American animated comedy sketch that debuted on The Dana Carvey Show before moving to its permanent home on Saturday Night Live. It is created and produced by Robert Smigel and J. J. Sedelmaier as part of the Saturday TV Funhouse series of sketches. It follows the adventures of Ace and Gary, voiced by Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell, respectively, two superheroes whose sexual orientation is a matter of dispute, and a cavalcade of characters preoccupied with the question.
The Ambiguously Gay Duo is a parody of the stereotypical comic book superhero duo done in the style of Saturday morning cartoons like Super Friends. The characters are clad in matching pastel turquoise tights, dark blue domino masks, and bright yellow coordinated gauntlets, boots and shorts. The shorts were intended to satirize suggestions that early Batman comics implied a homosexual relationship between the eponymous title character and his field partner and protégé Robin, a charge most infamously leveled by Fredric Wertham in his 1954 book, Seduction of the Innocent, the research methodology for which was later discredited.
The typical episode usually begins with the duo's arch-nemesis Bighead, a criminal mastermind with an abnormally large cranium. Bighead is usually briefing his henchmen on a plot for some grandiose plan for world domination, interrupted by a debate as to whether or not Ace and Gary (The Ambiguously Gay Duo) are gay. Once the crime is in process, the police commissioner calls on the superheroes to save the day, often engaging in similar debates with the chief of police.
Ace and Gary set out to foil the evil plan, but not before calling attention to themselves with outrageous antics and innuendo, and behaving in ways perceived by other characters to be stereotypically homosexual, as in this conversation from the first episode:
Ace [patting Gary on the buttocks]: Good job, friend-of-friends!
Villains/Bystanders [gasps, and ghastly stares]
Ace: What's everybody looking at?
Villains/Bystanders in unison: NOTHING!
Similar gags appear in almost every episode.
Episodes not following this general formula have featured Ace and Gary answering fan mail or offering child safety tips. One such episode entails Ace and Gary giving children a ride home in their Duocar and offering home decorating tips, all while blithely making various suggestive gestures and comments.
The Ambiguously Gay Duo
- Ace (voiced by Stephen Colbert) – Ace is the leader of the duo. He is mentor to Gary, whom he refers to as "friend of friends." He has a wide array of superhuman powers, including most (if not all) of Gary's powers.
- Gary (voiced by Steve Carell) – Gary is Ace's "sidekick" and protégé, and the younger of the duo. Gary is less experienced, and has fewer superhuman powers than Ace. His powers include superhuman strength, breath, stamina, flexibility, flight (though Ace and Gary use the phallic-shaped Duocar more often than they fly), and "laser vision."
- Announcer (voiced by Bill Chott) – The Announcer is a disembodied voice who announces the title of each episode.
- The Police Commissioner (voiced by Steve Carell) – The Police Commissioner is the duo's primary contact, and when trouble arises, he makes the call to their hangout. His calls tend to interrupt a workout of some kind, with one or the other of the duo shirtless.
- The Chief of Police (voiced by Bill Chott) – The Chief of Police is seen with the commissioner, apparently waiting to find evidence in support of his belief that Ace and Gary are gay.
- Kijoro – Kijoro is the duo's mentor whose spirit resides in the "Fortress of Privacy" and offers advice from time to time when Ace and Gary seek counsel.
- Piño – The butler of Ace and Gary.
- Bighead (voiced by Robert Smigel) – Bighead is a mad scientist with a very large, bald head, and is usually the brains behind most of the evil schemes. Second only to his primary vocation of mad scientist is his obsession with outing the superheroes as gay, which tends to annoy his co-conspirators because they do not care about the duo's sexuality and only want to defeat them in order to rule the world. He is constantly criticized for the amount of energy he invests in this pursuit.
- Dr. Brainio (voiced by Stephen Colbert) – Dr. Brainio is another mad scientist with a brain suspended above his head and attached by a trio of cables and tubing. He occasionally partners with Bighead, but is quite a bit more undecided about Ace and Gary.
- Orbitrox – Orbitrox is a small, green, free-floating droid who sides with Bighead on the question of Ace's and Gary's sexual orientation. Orbitrox has proffered evidence of their having visited gay bars, but he emphatically denies visiting them himself, snapping, in subtitled form, "Back off, dickweed, it's research!"
- Queen Serena (voiced by Ana Gasteyer) – An intergalactic queen.
- Flame Eye (voiced by Bill Hader) – A henchman of Bighead and Dr. Brainio with a fiery right eye.
- Lizardo (voiced by Bill Hader) – A lizard man henchman of Bighead and Dr. Brainio.
- Half-Scary – A Two-Face-like henchman of Bighead and Dr. Brainio.
- Flatside (voiced by Bill Hader) – A henchman of Bighead and Dr. Brainio whose head is flat on one side.
|No.||Title||Original air date|
|1||"It Takes Two to Tango"||September 28, 1996|
|Ace and Gary foil Bighead's plan to take over Metroville.|
|2||"Queen of Terror"||November 2, 1996|
|Ace and Gary stop Bighead's and Queen Serena's evil scheme.|
|3||"Don We Now... or Never"||December 14, 1996|
|Santa Claus has been kidnapped by aliens, and the Duo must save him.|
|4||"Safety Tips"||April 19, 1997|
|Ace and Gary demonstrate bicycle and home safety tips for local kids.|
|5||"Blow Hot, Blow Cold"||November 15, 1997|
|The Duo battles Dr. Brainio and Bighead's ice monster creation.|
|6||"A Hard One to Swallow"||May 9, 1998|
|Ace and Gary question their origins as superheroes and why everybody regards them strangely at the Fortress of Privacy (a spoof of Superman's Fortress of Solitude).|
|7||"The Ambiguously Gay Duo Fan Club"||November 21, 1998|
|Ace and Gary are oblivious to the suggestiveness in letters from their fans, who are mostly criminal convicts.|
|8||"AmbiguoBoys"||May 8, 1999|
|Even before they were the Ambiguously Gay Duo, teenagers Ace and Gary fought evil. This episode shows that Bighead was in their class and he is determined to win his classmates' respect and "out" the duo. When he reanimates and enlarges a giant frog, the AmbiguoBoys must stop him.|
|9||"Trouble Coming Twice"||May 13, 2000|
|Ace and Gary battle Bighead's evil schemes at the NBA Finals.|
|10||"The Third Leg of Justice"||October 19, 2002|
|Bighead is at it again and redecorates his lair in another attempt to out Gary and Ace. The Duo is assisted by former GE chairman and superhero Jack Welch.|
|11||"First Served, First Come"||September 29, 2007|
|Bighead enlists a Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport undercover policeman at a BBQ he orchestrates to out Ace and Gary, with surprising results.|
|12||"The Dark, Clenched Hole of Evil"||May 15, 2011|
|Bighead and his henchmen blast Ace and Gary with a flesh ray, transforming them from animated characters to live-action ones, in which they are portrayed by Jon Hamm and Jimmy Fallon, respectively. The gun malfunctions and "unanimates" everyone, with Ed Helms playing Half-Scary, Fred Armisen as Lizardo, Stephen Colbert as Dr. Brainio, and Steve Carell as Bighead.|
- January 12, 2002: (Josh Hartnett/Pink), The Ambiguously Gay Duo makes a surprise appearance in The X-Presidents episode "The Hunt for Osama." The Ambiguously Gay Duo show up in their Duocar where they help the X-Presidents capture Osama bin Laden.
- April 29, 2006: The Ambiguously Gay Duo co-hosted Saturday Night Live: The Best of TV Funhouse. The hosting duties included the opening monologue performed by Ace and Gary, plus new animated/live-action material during the pre-commercial and post-commercial bumpers. It was revealed during these bumper segments that they seem to have an undying obsession with former cast member Jimmy Fallon. The show ended with the duo taking cast members Jason Sudeikis and Andy Samberg to their secret headquarters — both naked — in the Duocar, with announcer Don Pardo begging to be taken with them and a spurned Jimmy Fallon looking on from his apartment window with tears in his eyes.
In 2015, Bif Bang Pow Toys produced and released a new 8" retro action-figure line of Ace and Gary titled the Ambiguously Gay Duo 8" retro action figure series. They were both individually packaged on a card but sold together in a set at the Entertainment Earth Catalog and website and at other toy and comic book stores as well. That same year, Bif Bang Pow Toys produced the Ambiguously Gay Duo Tin Tote (Lunchbox) action figure set of four 5" action-figures of Ace, Gary, and Bighead.
- "Animation: TV & Broadcast – The Dana Carvey Show". J.J. Sedelmaier Productions. 2008. Retrieved November 7, 2008.
- "Animation: TV & Broadcast – Saturday Night Live". J.J. Sedelmaier Productions. 2008. Retrieved November 7, 2008.
- J.J. Sedelmaier (June 27, 2001). "Animation director J.J. Sedelmaier" (MP3). Fresh Air (Interview: Audio). Interviewed by Terry Gross. NPR. Retrieved November 7, 2008.
- Wertham, Fredric (1954). Seduction of the Innocent (First ed.). New York: Rinehart & Company, Inc. OCLC 10526406.
- Itzkoff, Dave (February 19, 2013). "Flaws Found in Fredric Wertham's Comic-Book Studies". nytimes.com.