Monday Magazine - At The Mic
If you told me back in high school the majority of my income would come from wearing a dress, speaking in an accent and telling jokes about the Lord, I don’t think I would have believed you. Where was that kiosk at the job fair?
I saw entry-level positions at McDonald’s, a few options for hotel management, but I never saw a desk advertising the pros of being God, as a Scottish Drag Queen. To be honest, when I tell people I’m a comedian, they look at me as if I said my puppy died. A sad: “maybe if you had tried harder” look that always makes me feel like I have a big stain on my shirt.
My girlfriend’s parents saw my one-man show for the first time the other day. I met them a little over 18 months ago and liked them from Day 1. A lovely, traditional small-town family that has never been anything but sweet to me. While they have always known I am a comedian, they had never been to one of my shows.
I don’t know how the conversation went when she told them: “This is my boyfriend … he wears a dress for a living.”
I think even the most open-minded of fathers might have been a little nervous.
When I played Orlando, Fla. I was surprised by the number of people who were shocked that I’m not gay. “BUT YOU’RE A DRAG QUEEN!?” to which I begin the long reply of how I’m not actually a drag queen, it’s just the character.
People sometimes get upset that I’m not actually a drag queen, though they never get upset when they find out I’m not Scottish … or the Lord. Plus, drag queens work hard to look like that. They twist and tuck things into places you never thought possible.
I was asked in Montreal if I would join something called the “Drag Races.” I assumed it was cars. Turns out, it was just a bunch of vicious queens fighting for supremacy. I competed. I had to put makeup on a man, ride a tricycle, mix a drink and sing karaoke. I lost. A skinny queen dressed like Cher won.
The consolation prize is that I took off my wig and put on pants while she had to pull duct tape off her entire body.
Anyway, I don’t know if my girlfriend’s parents were nervous to see me perform, and if they were, they certainly didn’t show it. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a parent with a beautiful daughter and have her bring home some shmuck comedian.
I can tell you what it’s like to stand on a stage in front of them in what feels like the hottest theatre on the planet and try to make them laugh. It’s stressful!
I’ve performed in Las Vegas, New York, and even for the talent scouts at Just For Laughs and nothing compares to watching the two people you want to be your in-laws, sitting in the fifth row off the centre aisle and hoping they laugh. You start rocky. You start slow. You make mistakes. Then you focus. You forget the stress, you forget all the crappy couches you’ve had to sleep on while on the road, you forget the time an old lady threw a cigarette at your stage manager and burned his shoe, you forget about that time in Toronto when the skies opened and flooded the city in the middle of your show, you forget about the time you split your pants on stage and everybody saw everything.
You just tell the jokes. You make the folks laugh. And once you have entirely forgotten all the stress in your life, you look at the fifth row off the centre aisle and you see the three people you care the most about laughing to tears, and nothing else matters.
There wasn’t a kiosk for what I make a living doing today, but by God there should have been.