After all these months, it feels a bit weird being back in a performance space again. Weird, but good to be in an audience, laughing as a group, and there was plenty to laugh at as Myra DuBois really is, as her show’s title has it, Dead Funny.
Before the lady herself, Frank Lavender – like Myra, a character of Gareth Joyner – warms up the audience. Lavender is a completely meta persona: a northern club comic, played by a gay man, making jokes about the largely gay audience, jokes that totally would not be okay if they weren’t ‘in character’. The character of Lavender is purposely a rubbish ‘comedian’ that tells awful (but also funny in a postmodern way) pun-based jokes; before overstaying his welcome he left us with a bizarrely funny rendition of the Home & Away theme song.
So, onto the lady herself. Myra DuBois: award-winning, as seen on TV, soon to be seen in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie… there’s plenty to say even before we get to her one-woman show. Even though comparisons sometimes make for lazy reviewing, highest praise would be invoking the name Victoria Wood. Have you ever imagined what you’d get if Bianca Del Rio was a character created by Victoria Wood? If not, then watch a Myra DuBois show. A northern powerhouse with a tongue as sharp as the knife drawer and vocals that are beyond description: just let it be said that you’ll never be able to listen to Annie Lennox’s Why in the same way.
As birthdays are “too common”, Dead Funny takes place at Myra’s funeral, only she’s still around to see how loved she was… well, is. DuBois is not your RuPaul drag performer, as indicated by a lack of straight teenage girls in the audience. The character of DuBois has been honed, at a guess, in legendary drag venues, harkening back to the form’s gritty heyday.
“I feel like a celebrity visiting a ward,” she says about the somewhat gay audience, a certain dark humour that would’ve gone down a storm somewhere like the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. Her comedy is acerbic and cutting, a teeny bit shocking (“who’s buried a loved one? Give me a cheer”) but always hilarious.
Glee Club, Cardiff Bay, Wed 8 Sept
words and photos CHRIS WILLIAMS
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