As we drag our bruised and weary selves through the final weeks of Garbage Year 2017, there’s never been a better time to reevaluate your comedy intake - purging it of cancelled men like Louis C.K., and filling that overdue void with a more balanced (and funnier) mix of genders, races, sexualities, and abilities.
Queer Australians in particular have faced one of the most draining years we’ve seen in some time, with the drawn out and mentally harmful marriage postal survey giving free political reign for conservatives to attack everything from queer youth, Safe Schools, HIV+ folks, rainbow families, and pretty much the entire LGBTQIA+ community.
It’s in these times of bittersweet victory - as we reflect on how far we’ve come and how far left we’ve got to go - that finding a way to laugh is vital.
While gunning four Yakults in a row and pretending I understand pilates is indeed part of my “self-care” routine, my primary concern is finding as many opportunities as possible to laugh. This can be difficult if you’re a Dystrophy Homosexual In Leg Braces™ like me, or any other minority/multiple minority combo deal.
Historically, we’ve usually been the joke, not the joker - but as the comedy industry catches up with the diversity of the real world, it’s easy to not only find comics who respect your identity, but share it.
So buckle in queers (and ‘I Have A Queer Cousin’ allies) - here are some comics you should know that made 2017 a little less cis, a little less straight, and a little less awful.
1. Patti Harrison
While Patti Harrison’s biggest introduction to mainstream audiences was skewering Trump’s ban on trans people in the military for The Tonight Show, the polished jokes of a late night satirical segment don’t quite showcase just how absurd her comedy is.
Presenter for a whole raft of hilarious videos on Seriously.TV (including The Barkchelorette, a Bachie parody taking place at a dog show, or Convers(at)ion Therapy, an irreverent talk show where Patti interviews/tries to “cure” other trans people), her magnum opus is Patti Reviews Exotic Animals. Pure, silly nonsense.
2. Mawaan Rizwan
A British comedian and YouTuber with over 85,000 subscribers, Mawaan Rizwan has credits across countless shows, including BAFTA-nominated sketch show DNN and BBC3's How Gay Is Pakistan.
This clip is taken from a set done at Non-Binary Cabaret, highlighting Rizwan’s ridiculous comic sensibility (and killer make-up skills).
3. Joel Kim Booster
Now with two Conan appearances under his belt, a half-hour special for Comedy Central recently released and his album Model Minority, flying off what-I-assume-to-be-metaphorical iTunes shelves, Joel Kim Booster has firmly established himself as “one to watch” in comedy right now.
Watch above to catch some stellar advice for male flight attendants - “you can either be gay and rude or straight and good at your job”.
4. Steven Oliver
What’s that age-old expression - “you know you’ve made it when they give you a Christmas special”? A scene stealer from ABC’s Black Comedy and star of new program Tiger Cops, Steven Oliver is one of Australia’s finest (and most gorgeously camp) performers.
If you find yourself caught in an endless conversation with your drunk conservative uncle this Christmas, treat yourself to a half hour of restorative sexiness from A Very Sexy Xmas with Steven Oliver.
5. DeAnne Smith
Identifying as agender or - in a pinch - as a “Gentleman Elf”, Canadian comic Deanne Smith blew away Aussie audiences touring at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival, with killer bits on ‘lesbian-appropriate’ dogs to own and the untrustworthiness of fish.
6. Joel Lycett
Born in Birmingham and a regular guest on countless UK panel shows, Joel Lycett is a delightfully camp, pansexual performer whose merciless willingness to mess with internet scam artists results in some of the funniest (and most triumphant) stand-up material you’ll find.
7. Julio Torres
Julio Torres is the delightful, alien mind behind some of this year’s funniest SNL sketches. To give you some idea of his absurd style, a recent sketch of Torres’ casts a distraught Ryan Gosling as a conspiracy theorist obsessed with the film Avatar using the Papyrus font for its posters.
His stand-up is no less bizarre, and with a recent half-hour comedy special out on Comedy Central, it’s a great time to acquaint yourself. For now, watch Julio pitch concepts like ‘An Email Forwarded From Your Dad’ as last minute Halloween costumes to a bemused Jimmy Fallon - beautiful, out-of-this-world comedy gold.
8. Hannah Gadsby
Look, I’ll be real. if you missed Hannah Gadsby’s final show before quitting standup - Nanette - you messed up. Heartbreaking, hilarious, wounding, and cathartic in equal measures, it was one of the finest pieces of queer art this country has seen. While it’s a great loss to our screens and stages if Gadsby leaves comedy for good, make sure you revisit some clips from one of our most visible and talented queer performers.
9. Irene Tu
One of the many fantastic stand-ups spotlighted in the recent VICELAND series Funny How?, exploring comedy in all its intricacy, Irene Tu self-describes as the “next (Asian) Ellen DeGeneres”. Ensure you watch Episode 2 - Queer Now to catch some more of Irene’s killer material on race, androgyny and deciding which bathroom to use.
10. John Early
A chameleon comedy performer currently killing it on season two of Search Party, John Early is one of the funniest people on TV. Whether performing on his own or alongside regular collaborate Kate Berlant, Early’s comedy is a genuinely fresh, exciting subversion of expectations.
These are just some of the gloriously expanding scene of queer comics killing comedy internationally right now.
Whether it’s by binging on YouTube clips, booking yourself a ticket to some upcoming shows at Midsumma Festival (including Lemon Comedy Queer Showcase - the fun, irreverent and wheelchair accessible show I host!) or acquainting yourself with the history and legacy of queer comedy by watching Funny How? on SBS On Demand - do yourself some queer self-care and laugh, folks.
Watch Funny How? on SBS On Demand now:
Alistair Baldwin is a writer & comedian based in Melbourne but loyal only to Perth. He is the host and co-producer of Lemon Comedy, a monthly stand-up night devoted to championing diversity in comedy. Follow him on Twitter at @baldwinalistair for content with a much smaller character count than this article.