Laughter Lines: Jinkx Monsoon Discusses The Vaudevillians
After selling out an often-extended Off-Broadway run, an Australian tour and a run at London’s Soho Theatre, RuPaul's Drag Race winner Jinkx Monsoon will bring The Vaudevillians, a bawdy, rowdy musical comedy co-starring composer and musician Major Scales to Cardiff as part of a UK tour in November
Throughout the 1920's Kitty Witless and Dr. Dan Von Dandy toured the United States as The Vaudevillians, wowing audiences with their edgy, original music. One day, while touring through Antarctica, they were victims of a devastating avalanche and were buried under two tons of sleet and snow - instantly freezing them alive. But thanks to Global Warming, they recently thawed out only to discover that pop artists had stolen their music and passed it off as their own. Now, at long last, they are taking to the stage to reclaim their songs, performing their music as originally composed. It’s a vintage cabaret with a twist of drag.
Andy Howells recently caught up with Jinkx to discuss the show.
What inspired you to enter the world of comedy and particularly become a drag artist?
What really inspires my comedy and what makes it so fun for me, is I'm able to get out all my negativity and rage in a way that's constructive and enjoyable, and hopefully entertaining. I try to be a positive and optimistic person, but the world is a messed up place. I think comedy is a great way to comment on the world but not get weighed down by it. Drag is my preferred medium for my performance art because I'm able to express my femininity and create characters based on my favourite female inspirations.
Are there any artists who have inspired you over the years?
I'm heavily inspired by old Hollywood and classic actresses like Bette Davis, Lucille Ball, Madeline Kahn, Carol Burnett- and modern female comedians like Deven Green, Maria Bamford, Sarah Silverman, and Margaret Cho. I like to find inspiration in obscure places as well, like video games and horror movies.
What is the funniest experience you’ve ever had at one of your gigs?
I can be very clumsy. I'm often the one who slips and falls and does a face plant on stage. One of my favourite moments this happened is in a big touring production with many other queens from Drag Race; Courtney Act barely bumped in to me, but somehow I completely wiped out. I accidentally ripped Courtney's skirt off and went tumbling across the stage, completely throwing off the climax of our big opening number.
Who or what makes you laugh?
In my down time, I like to watch a lot of animated shows: Bob's Burgers, Rick and Morty, American Dad... I'm basically an adult sized child.
Do you have a comedy hero or heroine if so, who and why?
That would probably be Carol Burnett. She has had an amazing career that I admire greatly. She's had her own comedy show, she's been a musical theatre star, and she's a red head. For me, that's the trifecta I aspire to.
Can you tell us about your new show The Vaudevillians?
The Vaudevillians is the brain child of Major (Scales) and myself. It was generated from two really stupid characters we used to joke around as when we were bored at play rehearsals. It eventually evolved into what it is today: two vaudeville performers were frozen alive in a freak avalanche at the height of their career.
Thanks to climate change, they've thawed out and are returning to the stage to pick up their world tour where they left off, only to find that pop stars have covered their songs over the centuries, taking them entirely out of context. Now they're here to reintroduce you to songs you already love, like you've never heard them before.
What is Major Scales like to work with?
He's a musical genius and has an amazing sense of humour. He and I often times have the same thoughts at the same time on stage and can improve a moment together as though we've rehearsed it for weeks. Together we're like a modern drag version of Lucy and Ricki.
Are there any aspects to the show that you have found different or challenging as a performer?
Ageing. I wish I was 24 again. Ha ha.
What else have you got planned for the future?
Our new album, The Ginger Snapped comes out this fall (aiming for September) and will feature original music by Major and myself with a 90's Garage Band throwback sound. It's a bit of a departure from our cabaret/show tune style we're known for, but I'm really happy with it and I think our audiences will really enjoy it.
- The Vaudevillians comes to The Sherman Theatre on November 16. Visit www.shermantheatre.co.uk or call 02920 646900 for ticket information.