Loud & Queer
Presented by: New Zealand Comedy Trust
St James Theatre, 20th May 2023
Reviewed by: Tanya Piejus
Loud & Queer is a one-off, two-hour show of stand-up and sketch comedy, songs, and drag performances as part of the New Zealand International Comedy Festival. The outpouring of audience support for Wellington’s queer community was palpable and exciting, and only enhanced a high-quality evening of entertainment.
Fabulous drag queen Judy Virago opened the show in one of three spectacular dresses she was to don throughout the evening. Co-host Tom Sainsbury’s dowdy arts administrator was a hilarious contrast. They were a fine pair of emcees who kept the performances rolling with interjections of their own feisty wit and repartee with audience members.
The bulk of the show was taken up by short sets from stand-up comedians Clarissa Chandrahasen, Neil Thornton, Mx. Well, Ryan McGhee, and Eli Matthewson, plus comedy duo Jez and Jace. The latter’s gauche, sexually repressed Wairarapa farming blokes and Matthewson’s story of his and his 62-year-old dad’s journeys to coming out were particular highlights in an excellent and eclectic comedy collection.
In an unexpected interlude, four members of the audience got involved doing catwalks along the stage for the chance to compete in a banana-swallowing contest. This was won by a game lady called Sandra who didn’t even wait for the countdown before she got stuck in and enthusiastically necked her fruit.
Drag acts Amanduh la Whore and Nova Starr bookended the show with stunning performances of powerful feminist songs. Starr’s rendition of This Is Me, the Bearded Lady’s song from The Greatest Showman, was a spectacular conclusion to the show, especially with the accompaniment of The Glamaphones, a 60-strong queer community choir. They had their own joyously performed set of three songs – Rainbowland, Don’t Tell Mama, and Go West.
The recent 4000-strong anti-TERF protest showed how much Wellington loves and values its LGBTQIA+ communities and Loud & Queer was a wonderful celebration of our diversity.