Welcome to GAG! our exciting new series that showcases the best of queer comedy and cabaret talent. With a focus on diverse performers who push boundaries and challenge conventions, GAG! is the ultimate destination for fans of comedy that is fresh, funny and fabulous.
Whether you’re looking for laugh-out-loud comedy, jaw-dropping drag performances or outrageous musical performers, GAG has it all. Join us as we celebrate the creativity, humour and unapologetic queer spirits of some of the most talented performers. Get ready to launch, gasp and GAG!
For our first instalment, we meet at Soho Theatre with Séayoncé, the legendary ghost whisperer during her spring séance.
Séayoncé! Tell us about your journey into drag and comedy
Well, my mate tricked me into working in comedy. She always said I should be a stand up comedian… which as a young actor I took as her being shady. She was organising a fundraiser for a show she was working on, and the day before told me I was booked on the night to do stand up and was on the poster so couldn’t back out. So, I performed, shakily reading from my notebook and loved it!
I then created Séayoncé a few years later when I was emceeing a comedy night. Basically, I had been ghosted by some guy that week (relatable) so was ad-libbing that he wasn’t texting back because he must be dead, so we had to contact him from the spirit realm. But I had to become a higher spiritual being and coined the name Séayoncé. I then developed this idea with Soho theatre in their cabaret and drag course, taught by cabaret icons like Bourgeois and Maurice and Jonny Woo and the late great Ghost Whisperer Séayoncé was born!
A big queer séance is so unique! Tell us about your creative process.
With my erratic ADHD brain, the process is often last minute and stressful! But a lot of fun, one of the main things when I’m writing is checking if it’s making me laugh, I think if you are enjoying the material the audience also will. I collaborate with musician extraordinaire Robyn Herfellow, we have created some amazing songs together and they perform as Séayoncé’s murderous accomplice Leslie-Ann (who I met in prison).
Sharing the stage with someone so talented and so firmly within their queer power is always incredible, as it feels like we are inviting the audience into our coven. As a mystical comedy character there is so much available to me, I can be possessed by anyone in the spirit world (I’ve been Rasputin, Mary Magdalene, the Devil etc), I can read the audiences past/futures/minds and really play on the spiritual aspect.
Also, our shows are a hybrid of comedy, cabaret and drag so I always try and push myself creatively to elevate the form within a clear theatrical arc. Whether that’s with long form audience interaction, cabaret ballads, improv, puppetry etc. Anything to keep me and the audience entertained.
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Why is comedy so important to the LGBTQ+ community?
I think it plays a huge role in the LGBTQ+ community no matter what terrible things are happening around the world that affect our community, we still have the ability to go to a dingey gay bar that stinks of poppers and sweat and find queer joy. It is also a unifier between our community and the straight community some of the most influential and iconic queer celebrities have been comedy acts, it allows people to feel comfortable around something they maybe don’t relate to because at the centre of it is joy and laughter. The ability to turn trauma into power and then into laughter is a magic queer people have, there’s a lyric in a song I’ve written that says ‘in the face of adversity us witches laugh’ that sums it up for me really.
How do you balance humour and social commentary in your performances?
It is important as a powerful high-status act to think about what message the audience are taking away because in that space, they trust you… I am the cult leader. I always try and explore what I would need to hear from Séayoncé if I was in the audience, but using comedy as a tool is a great way to tackle harder issues and to also highlight the absurdity of some of the things happening in the world.
I always say Séayoncé acts as the gateway into the glorious world of queer performance, as it’s a comedy act, we get a lot more straight/mainstream audiences supporting us. It is my job to give them a taste of what queer joy is, allow them to feel comfortable and entertained in an environment they are told to fear so they can leave with a greater appreciation for this art form and a desire to see other queer performers.
You must have some hilarious moments from your gigs! Tell us one…
We always try and keep a live chaotic element in the show where we interact with the audience, so we don’t know what is going to happen and when the audience take control some bizarre things happen. One that is funny and appropriate to be in this publication (cause many are not) was, last year we were performing at Soho Theatre and I was telling the audience there was a spirit in the space wanting to make contact and then going through names alphabetically until someone was brave enough to say they knew someone by that name. No one was biting so when I got to the letter G I asked, “has someone lost a Granny?”, a guy responded with “Yes a year ago today” so then I pretended to be possessed by his Granny on the anniversary of her death, which he did find very funny but for me everything was clenched as it was a plot twist I hadn’t expected.
How do you stay current and relevant in a constantly evolving comedy and drag scene?
Well, Séayoncé is psychic, I can see the future, so I know what is going to happen before it does… that’s how. But just be true to your voice and what you want to create as soon as you start focusing on everyone else and comparing yourself to others that’s when you make the wrong decisions. What I do is the most classic form of drag, I am a Dame chatting on a mic and singing songs, I believe this is timeless.
What advice do you have for emerging LGBTQ+ performers who are interested in pursuing comedy or drag?
I don’t believe in luck in this industry it’s about accumulation, the more you perform, the more people see you, the more artists/industry people you meet, the more areas you get access to, so when you are in the right place at the right time and get an opportunity, you are the one that got yourself into that right place for it to be the right time. Also always ask for a higher fee than you would expect and then say “can be discussed if needed” it means you are always getting paid right, don’t sell yourself short.
Finally, what’s next for you? Any upcoming projects or performances that you’re excited about?
Yes, we are currently at Soho Theatre until 6th May with our comedy séance entitled ‘Séayoncé Res-erection The Second Cumming!’ Which is a hilarious show I am very proud of, it is our best work yet! Then we tour the show to Brighton Fringe afterwards!