Loud & Queer

St James Theatre, Courtenay Place, Wellington

20/05/2023 - 20/05/2023

NZ International Comedy Festival 2023

Production Details

Presented by the New Zealand Comedy Trust

Loud & Queer  celebrates Aotearoa LGBTQI+ comedy and our capital city’s iconic queer community in a one-night-only extravaganza.

Hosted by the legendary  Judy Virago (drag queen and certifiable local hero) and parody king  Tom Sainsbury (2019 Billy T Award nominee, Wellington Paranormal).

Bringing together an epic cast of comedic LGBTQI+ performers to celebrate Wellington’s vibrant queer community in a joyful night of stand-up, sketch comedy, music and drag.

Featuring a star-studded line-up: 

Eli Matthewson – Fred Award winner and star of Dancing With The Stars
Nova Starr – Wellington’s iconic, live-singing drag superstar
Jadwiga Green – 2021 Comedy Fest Director’s Award winner
Mx. Well – Non-binary musician and comedian
Clarissa Chandrahasen – Rising star on the Wellington stand-up scene
Neil Thornton – Queer comedy icon
Jez & Jace – Improv duo and bogan drag performers
Don’t miss out on one of the jewels in this year’s NZ International Comedy Festival crown – it’ll be camp, silly and unforgettable.

In attendance will also be The Glamaphones, the amazing rainbow community choir from Wellington! This choir is 60 people strong and will be sure to get the party started. Good tunes, great laughs, what more can you want!

Book: https://www.comedyfestival.co.nz/find-a-show/loud-and-queer/
Price: $49 – $99
Time: 7.30PM

Hosts: Tom Sainsbury and Judy Viargo

Performers: Eli Matthewson, Nova Starr, Jadwiga Green, Mx. Well, Clarissa Chandrahasen, Neil Thornton, Jez & Jace

Comedy , Theatre , LGBTQIA+ ,

2 hours

A stunning night: a wonderfully varied range of performances

Review by Wesley Hollis 21st May 2023

Get ready for what could be Wellington’s biggest night of queer comedy this year. The show is Loud and Queer, and the line up promises a lot of variety – from comedy to choir, drag to improv, this show has something for everyone.

Hosted by Judy Virago and Tom Sainsbury, Loud and Queer is performed at the St James theatre and is part of the New Zealand International Comedy Festival. It promises to be a wonderful night for queer folk and allies alike.

The show starts in the lobby, where bogan improv comedy duo Jez and Jace welcome people and show off their improv skills, at one point coming up to me to tell me they love my look. The audience gets their drinks and gets settled in the auditorium. There’s a decent crowd, and many people I recognise – it seems half of queer Wellington has turned up to support tonight’s show. 

Judy Virago is our first host. Throughout the night, Judy treats us to three looks, each more stunning than the last. She tells us she has the job tonight of whipping us up into a “frothing frenzy” so that each of the acts will seem like the best acts we’ve ever seen; a promise she delivers on. She’s as funny as she is fabulous, and her comedy shows us how to laugh in a deeply troubled world. Even when she is telling a more serious story, she knows how to punctuate it with a punchline that gets big laughs. 

The next host is Tom Sainsbury. He shows off a little of his own drag at the beginning of the show, with some voiceover commentary on the arts lifestyle as he struts the catwalk, before appearing in a suit for the rest of the night. Tom’s gift is one of engaging with the audience, and making people feel loved and important for the few moments they are talking to him. I love the banter between him and Judy – there’s a real ‘opposites attract’ feel to this duo. Tom has a shyer, more understated feel than Judy but this does not mean in any way that he is overshadowed while he is on stage.

The first act proper is Amanduh la Whore, legendary drag performer and founder/patron of the Wellington International Pride Parade. She comes out with a stunning, regal look: a dark patterned dress with a red veil. The music is inspirational, and her performance is slow and sensuous. There is more of an emphasis on lip synching than on her understated movements. While this is a subtle performance, it is undeniably captivating and majestic. 

Clarissa Chandrahasen is the next performer on stage, bringing her unique style of flawless comedy. Covering everything from dating to quiet quitting, Clarissa’s comedy speaks to life as a millennial in the modern world. She has a great ability to tell us stories about her own life, even if not all of them will be relatable to everybody (such as home ownership). She has no problem promoting herself, and for good reason – Clarissa and her comedy are effortlessly amazing. Clarissa is also performing her own show in the Comedy Festival, Flawless, which opens on 23 May at Cavern Club and runs until 27 May.

Neil Thornton is the next act. Of all the entrances tonight Neil’s might be the most magnificent as he skates out with pink roller skates, a unicorn onesie, a sparkly undershirt and a pink mohawk. Neil’s style of comedy is loud, a little world weary, more than a little angry and unapologetically gay. He talks a bit about being gay and American in New Zealand, and pokes fun at New Zealand suburbs and small towns, though in a way that has us on board the whole time. If you’re keen on some fabulously camp comedy, check out Neil’s Comedy Festival show, Hot Mess on Wheels. It opens on 23 May at Te Auaha and runs until 27 May.

Jez and Jace are next on stage, bringing with them chaotic energy and a mess for the stage managers to clean up as they entertain the crowd by eating spoonfuls of protein powder. There’s a lot to love about the outrageous antics of this bogan improv duo, who are close enough to be brothers – or lovers. There are a few homosexual undertones (and then overtones) as the duo shows us they know how to fight and make up, as well as have a good time. Their performance parodies traditional stand up as they try observational humour and audience interaction in their own hilariously awkward way. Jez and Jace have their own show in the Comedy Festival, Jez & Jace, which runs on 26 and 27 May at Te Auaha.

Mx. Well is up next, bringing music with them onto the stage. With purple hair, a crop top and a silver skirt, Mx. Well isn’t afraid to show off how hot they are to the crowd, and not afraid to tell us they’re hot either. They launch into their first song, which is loud, hilarious and outrageous. Then they pause for a moment to cover a more serious topic – trans discrimination. They share another song with us; a song to fight fascism, as they put it. Mx. Well’s performance tonight strikes the perfect balance between silliness and fun and more serious but necessary conversations.

Opening the second half of the show is The Glamaphones, Wellington’s queer choir. Backed by a talented pianist and conductor, their music is often jaunty and uplifting, sometimes slower and moodier, and even has a few funny moments. The choir is a diverse line up, with men, women and non-binary folk of all ages and voice types. The one thing that lets them down is that when there is only one person singing it is a little difficult to hear them, but when they are all singing together they are a powerful and united front. A true highlight of the night.

Ryan McGhee appears on stage in a kilt and an All Blacks shirt. Much of Ryan’s comedy is observational humour and stories about his own life. He tells us his coming out story, a moment which will be relatable to many of the queer audience members. He also discusses his experiences as a Scottish person living in New Zealand, including some light-hearted ribbing of the country. With confidence to spare and a brilliant smile, it’s impossible not to laugh while Ryan is on the stage. Ryan also had a show in the Comedy Festival, but sadly it has already passed – The Scottish Kiwi ran 10 May to 13 May at Te Auaha.

Eli Matthewson is next. His set is one of the longest of the night, but every moment of his comedy is captivating. He talks us through misunderstandings at the gym, grand aspirations as a drama student, more jokes than I thought possible about cars, and his family (which includes a big twist). Eli is a master at weaving punchlines through stories about his life that have us in stitches all night. This is comedy that has something to say and some excellent points to make without taking itself too seriously and is one of the stand out performances of the night. Eli has a show in the Comedy Festival called Gutterball, running 24 May to 27 May at San Fran.

The closing act is Nova Starr, a true icon of drag. Wearing a gorgeous outfit covered in black feathers, and striking makeup, Nova takes to the stage to sing ‘This Is Me’. The curtain rises and the Glamaphones are brought back on stage as backing vocalists. This is a powerful way to finish the show, uplifting and inspiring every person in the theatre. I hear from one of the performers later that the other acts backstage were either dancing or moved to tears, and I can guarantee many members of the audience were moved to tears as well. I could watch an entire concert of Nova Starr’s performance – this is the kind of act that makes you want to be the best person you can be.

What a stunning night, and a night that makes me incredibly proud to be part of the Wellington queer community. Every act was on point, and there was such a wonderfully varied range of performances. I commend all of the performers on a truly spectacular show. If Loud and Queer ever comes to Wellington again (or indeed, any part of the country) I insist, you must go. I would watch all of these acts again, or any number of other talented queer performers that Wellington has to offer who may grace the stage next time.

Make sure you check out the rest of the Comedy Festival shows starring tonight’s performers, and keep an eye out for what these incredible people are doing next.


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