Review By Regan Baker
Drag Queens, comedians, and a gorgeous multipurpose bar that I had never been to before – what more could one possibly want from a Sunday evening?
In a spectacular night of curated chaos, producers Thomas Bleach and Joshua Collins brought together the worlds of drag and comedy in The Switch Up, a show all about stepping out of your comfort zone for the entertainment of others. It saw four drag superstars and three dynamite comedians take to The Outpost stage in what they do best first before playing a little game of role reversal, where the comedians did drag for the first time ever, and the queens partook in a comedy roast.
Our evening was Hosted by Brisbane icon of drag, Henny Spaghetti and local comedian Rhi Down, so there was never a doubt that it was going to be a night of stupid but hilarious fun. Comprising of Steph Tisdell, Peter James, and Sydney-based Elouise Eftos, team comedian were up first to ensure they had plenty of time to get in drag for the second half of the show.
In a hysterical set about her indigenous heritage, Tisdell had the room in stitches in no time at all. From poking fun at her all too sweet father, to destroying the naming convention behind Migaloo the White Whale, absolutely nobody was safe from her sharp-witted tongue. A tough act to follow, but nailing it so, was James in a routine predominantly about his love of Bondi Rescue and the unintentional situational comedy that it is. He had brilliant comedic timing and tone of voice and made even simple ideas funny. While I thoroughly enjoyed the first two acts, I feel a little at odds with the style of comedy presented by Elouise Eftos, though I may be alone in my opinion based on the amount of laughter still radiating around the theatre. I appreciate self-confidence, don’t get me wrong, but an entire 10-minute set about how ‘hot’ you are and how ‘easy’ comedy is as a result was a little too egotistical for my taste.
After being forced by my housemate to watch every single episode of Ru Paul’s Drag Race ever created, I was really looking forward to seeing what Brisbane had to offer on the local drag circuit and I was not disappointed! Scarlett Fever hit the stage first with glitz, glam, and pure energy in her lip-sync of Miley Cyrus’s ‘WTF Do I know,’ causing a cry of cheers and whistles from the crowd. Gogo Bumhole was a sight to behold in their rendition of Fergalicious, and Holly Spirit strutted her stuff on home turf once more after performing internationally in the UK. The showstopper of the night, however, was Adelaide-based Kween Kong who brought the house down with her unbelievable dance moves and jaw-dropping death drops. She’s a queen I’ve seen before, and one I would absolutely see again.
After a brief intermission it was time to crack on with the actual switch up element of the evening, starting off with a good ole fashioned drag roast. While it was still well done, and quite comical in parts, I have to say that the roast wasn’t my favourite part of the show as all the queens (self-admittedly) were too nice to want to throw too much shade at one another. The funniest (and also the grossest) part of the roast was the birthing of a spaghetti-child from down yonder that was gifted to Henny, which quickly became an ongoing trope for the remainder of the show.
What was, by far, the most entertaining part of the evening, however, was the Switch Up of the comedians doing drag. The combination of incredible wit, ridiculous costuming and superb song choices made for an unbelievably unique and side-splitting spectacle. Steph Tisdale stripped down from an oversized trench coat to a tight-fitting monkey-faced shirt with – ah – “bulging eyes,” all while giving a lap dance to Ginuwine’s Pony. If I wasn’t in stitches enough already, Peter James added to the hilarity jumping straight back on his Bondi Rescue bandwagon to an indescribably funny lip-synch which incorporated a mashed-up quote from the show, “Swim between the flags please.” James, in flawless drag, acted the part of a helpless swimmer while his actual girlfriend, dressed as a male lifeguard, rescuing him from the surf. Rounding out the performances was Elouise Eftos in a lip sync of Lindsay Lohan’s Rumours, showcasing a little bit of everything she picked up at her time at WAPA, and commanding large cries of applause from the crowd.
The Switch Up was a phenomenal night of highly enjoyable, hilarious, and powerful drag and stand-up comedy. In a variety performance of almost three hours, it was inevitable that some elements would not hit as high a note as others, but as a whole the concept and execution is to be commended in high regards.