As a recent addition to the RuPaul’s Drag Race universe, Rhys Nicholson has cemented themselves as a firmly-loved comedian in the hearts of LGBTQ+ people across the world. Now, we are set to welcome Rhys into our very own United Kingdom as they embark on their debut UK tour.
Known for their incredibly quick wit and fast paced back-and-forth, Rhys has set the world ablaze with their one-of-a-kind style. After winning a host of awards at the Melbourne Comedy Festival in 2022, and a sold-out run at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, Rhys is bringing their critically-acclaimed show ‘Rhys Rhys Rhys’ to venues including Soho Theatre, as well as HOME in Manchester and Brighton – where they kick off the tour.
“Yes, Brighton first. Maybe I’ll go look at those hilariously glib things your whacky Brits call a beach? I’m quite looking forward to hopping all over the shop really,” they tell us. “I usually only ever spend time in either Edinburgh or London, so the idea of seeing a whole bunch of the UK is delightful.”
Whether you’ve seen them on stage, or gracefully judging the queens on RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under, you’ll be all too aware of Nicholson’s self indulgent yet perfectly self-deprecating style of humour.
In 2022, Rhys came out as non-binary, sharing with their audience that they use he/they pronouns. With many comedians and artists using their work to explore more about themselves, we wanted to know if self exploration was at the heart of Rhys’ process when creating this tour.
“Oh look, I mean, I bang on about myself a lot onstage,” they say. “I wouldn’t call it exploratory really. I’m definitely not someone who uses stand up for therapy. That’s what my therapist is for, and she ain’t cheap! I think I just couldn’t be bothered to tell everyone one-by-one about my new pronouns, so I just figured I’d tour a show and tell everyone at once. Much easier on an admin level.”
In a world where queer creatives are constantly pushed to create content and material – especially in comedy – it can be a tough space to switch off from. With the UK full of fun and interesting ways to relax, we wanted to see what Rhys would be up to on their days off.
“I usually pick up a little crafty hobby to keep my hands from being idle. Embroidery or something gay like that,” they reveal. “If I have time I find it very relaxing going to department stores and watching rich people be nightmares to each other. Very calming.”
When they’re not touring the world, they’re starring on the silver screen – most notably as a panelist on RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under. As we await further news of its third season, we poked Rhys for any juicy details ahead of its debut.
“I get so scared to say anything! Truly terrifying to know stuff and not be allowed to say a word,” they say. “Look, it’s truly such a thrill I get to be on that show. I genuinely think it’s an honour I am allowed to sit at that desk and watch the best queens compete in the Olympics of drag. Well, I guess it’s the Commonwealth Games of drag! This season steps it the fuck up. The cast is wild, fun and bloody diverse. So excited for everyone to see it.”
As we spoke about drag, we also asked Rhys their views on the anti-drag bills being passed in the States, and the increase in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric that is permeating its way across the world.
“Oh it’s so fucking wild and stupid,” Rhys says. “Like there’s no other way to describe it, really. Conservatives want a distraction from much bigger issues going on around the place and they’ve made one up. Queers seem to go through something like this every few hundred years. I mean, between the Dalai Lama recently asking a boy to suck his tongue and the Catholic Church’s whole, you know, vibe, I’m not sure drag queens are the men in dresses we should be keeping kids away from.”
Not only does Rhys continue to be a strong and feisty figure for many LGBTQ+ people and non-binary folk, they also co-own a comedy club in Melbourne that supports emerging queer comics. On getting started in comedy, their self confessed “basic bitch advice” is definitely worth listening to.
“It is so heartening to see the younger generation of queer comics coming up,” they say. “They are so confident, and know who they are at such a young age. It’s exciting.”
Rhys adds: “This is such basic bitch advice but if you want to do it, you just have to fucking do it. Perform wherever you can, whenever you can, as long as it’s safe. If you can’t find somewhere you think is your vibe, start a room. You can do it.
“Some of the most useless, administratively challenged people I know are successful comedy producers. If there’s something you want to see on stage, I can guarantee at least 100 people somewhere want to see the same thing.”
Catch Rhys Nicholson on their debut UK tour from 13 June to 3 July. More info and tickets available here.