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  • Maia Ingoe

The Loud & Queer Comedy Showcase Shimmers with Pride

The Loud & Queer showcase was stuffed full with glorious LGBTQIA+ talent from this year’s NZ International Comedy Festival, and enough Best Foods mayonnaise to feed a small army. Equipped with two free comms tickets, I headed to the most vulnerable seat you can take at a live comedy show: second row, dead centre.

An audience member getting the shit ripped out of them is, arguably, the most entertaining part of live comedy (if you’re in the back row). So when Sainsbury turned the house lights up mid-way through the first half, my second- row anxiety peaked. Unfortunately, his jokes fell on flat ears, owing to too many straights with free PR tickets in the audience. Thankfully, audience member Sandra stole the show in a runway showdown between four other attendees. Sainsbury better call Houston, because I’m deceased.

The first act concluded with Mx. Well, a self-described “hot bitch”, oozing with unapologetic pride. I love me a bit of musical comedy, especially when it gives me a chance to joyfully sing “I’m not friends with Nazi scum!”

After an interval, the curtains parted to reveal the Glamaphones, Wellington's very own 60-gay-strong choir. Listening to their rendition of ‘Don’t Tell Mama’ from Cabaret whilst holding my girlfriend’s hand, I couldn’t stop smiling.

Following the Glamaphones, we were treated to a lengthy set with Dancing with the Stars level NZ celebrity Eli Matthewson. Matthewson’s jokes landed extremely well—there’s something for everyone in his set. His lines about growing up ‘chrisso’ had me cracking up, while his comparison of coming out in a car (door slamming, amazing dramatic effect) to coming out on an electric bike (I’m gay! Bzzzzzzz) kept me cackling.

‘The Scottish Kiwi’ Ryan McGhee provided something different to the campy set, but I’m not sure his many jokes about driving on Aotearoa roads hit well with a Wellington crowd (hint: they only have their learners licence).

The night ended on the highest note possible, with the iconic, live-singing drag queen Nova Starr. The Glamaphones returned to the stage to back her up, providing a powerful, roof-shattering performance of ‘This is Me’ from The Greatest Showman.

This showcase was a big, fat, queer celebration, and a big fuck you to TERFs and bigots. Loud & Queer comedy provided a much-needed safe space for pride and for community. I could finally see myself, and the people I loved, reflected in the mayonnaise glaze of the NZ International Comedy Fest.

I was prepared for another comedy showcase with one too many millennial jokes, but the Loud & Queer showcase pleasantly surprised me. Maybe all I needed was comedy that wasn’t straight (just like me).

The legendary Judy Virago opened the showcase in a stunning, fuchsia, mermaid-skirt gown, and she blessed us with two more costume changes throughout the night. Her co-host, Tom Sainsbury (loved by queers and middle-aged white women alike), warmed up the audience with a skit about arts administrators. Virago and Sainsbury’s years of friendship shone through as they bounced off each other’s unique styles, creating a perfect co-host stage presence.

Chills were sent through the collective audience spine by Amanduh la Whore, who performed a powerful lip sync in the first act of the night. While a performer who commands respect, la Whore was not a comedic act, and watching drag while sitting politely in the St James Theatre left me craving the sweaty confines of Ivy Bar. la Whore was followed by Clarissa Chandrahasen, who showcased a delightfully narcissistic comedic style. Her relatable set ranged from quiet quitting to misreading red flags.

The show really took off when the iconic Neil Thornton sailed on stage in a unicorn onesie and light-up, pink roller skates. His set was energetic and entertaining, as he argued that New Zealand was possibly ‘too nice to the gays’. Apparently, our small towns and suburbs (ahem, Newtown) are in serious need of some repressed gay gentrification.

Undeniably, the show’s highlight was parody sketch duo Jez and Jace, straight from Whanganui’s Got Talent. Cosplaying a bogan farmer and tradie, they wheeled onto the stage on a trike, chugging protein powder. Their set was a hilarious parody of straight masculinity and its repressed sexuality—the comedy I never knew I needed.


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