There aren’t many comedians working today whose live shows come with virulent content warnings from seasoned attendees to newcomers like myself. Bianca Del Rio, winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 6 – and one of the show’s greatest success stories after the fact – is one of them. Having interviewed Bianca a few weeks prior to her Cardiff visit, one of countless on her biggest ever world tour, and despite her reputation, I couldn’t quite reconcile the lovely and polite personality I heard through Zoom with the idea of her morphing into an absolute devil in a wig on-stage. But when Bianca calls her show ‘Unsanitized,’ you should know she means absolutely filthy.
Supporting Bianca for the UK leg of her tour is Myra DuBois, “Rotheram’s finest since Paul Shane,” and made nationally famous after appearing on Britain’s Got Talent in 2020, as well as the film adaptation of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie – the stage musical of which Bianca herself has guest-starred in on both Broadway and in the West End. I have to confess I was not particularly familiar with her and a lack of expectation made her performance all the more of a revelation: quick-witted observational comedy delivered with the withering grace of Maggie Smith’s Downton Abbey dowager. Myra soon had us eating out of the palm of her acrylic-nailed hand; perhaps the best illustration of which being when she kept us laughing during a one-woman duet that she refused to fill in the missing parts of. If you can turn doing nothing into comedy gold then, well, you’ve struck it.
Similarly, the headliner – who Myra naturally rinsed to oblivion beforehand – knows how to get the audience going with a mere side-eyed look. The fact that there is such a clear delineation between the Bianca Del Rio persona and the man behind it is how she (and most drag queens, for that matter) gets away with being such a “hateful bitch”. No matter how many slurs are hurled at those brave enough to sit in her firing line, there’s never any actual malice behind her words, nor could anything she says ever be misconstrued as any kind of incitement of that in her audience: merely an opportunity to laugh at both her and our own flaws. It’s a fine line to walk, but transgressive artforms like drag allow for transgressive lines to be sashayed across.
Bianca’s humour might not be for everyone: she relies heavily on stereotypes and a liberally foul vocabulary, not to mention a thorough reading of the now-international TV franchise that made her famous and some of its alumni. It’s all part of her shock humour schtick, and to be honest, I probably found some of her tamer gags more effective at times – not through any pearl-clutching sense of scandalisation, but just that sometimes, less can be more. But try telling that to someone whose make-up is frequently compared to a birthday clown.
St. David’s Hall, Cardiff, Mon 9 May. Info: here.
words HANNAH COLLINS
Read our interview with Bianca Del Rio below:
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