Amrita Rande reviews Roast Battles, an evening of comedy, performance and roasts from some of the stars of RuPaul’s Drag Race
I recently had the pleasure of seeing the Roast Battles presented by Klub Kids at the O2 Arena here in Birmingham. It was an amazing, truly once in a lifetime opportunity to see some of the most loved and hilarious drag queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race. It featured some of the most iconic queens like Phi Phi O’Hara from season four, Ginger Minj from season seven, Thorgy Thor and Bob the Drag Queen from season eight (Bob was the winner of her season) and Monet X Change and Monique Heart from season ten. The event was hosted by the one and only Ross Mathews, a regular judge on the show.
The lineup for the night promised an unforgettable evening and it certainly delivered. In the first part of the show, each of the queens came up one by one and did a brilliant comedy routine, poking fun at their fellow sisters both at the event and from the show.
Ginger Minj was a brilliant opener. The seventh season is often considered by fans to have been a dud, but Ginger proved that she didn’t get into the top three by chance. Her comic timing was impeccable and she ended her set by doing an audition for the part of Ursula in Disney’s’ upcoming live action remake of the Little Mermaid (fun fact: the character of Ursula was inspired by the legendary drag queen Divine!). She absolutely killed the song, serving up some undersea witch realness.
The rest of the queens made sure the audience’s energy didn’t dip. Thorgy Thor and Monique were hilarious; I was gasping for breath when they were done. Bob the Drag Queen had people in stitches, proving she definitely deserved her crown. Phi Phi O’Hara, undoubtedly the most controversial queen there, having gotten the villain edit twice, both times for attacking fan-favorites, was just as funny as the two. But, her jokes were definitely more on the offensive side; definitely not the kind of thing you show your grandmother. Monet X Change, a comedy queen, was the perfect way to end the show and Ross Mathews was the perfect palate cleanser between the acts.
By the end of the whole set, my cheeks hurt from laughing.
All the queens showed brilliant levels of self-awareness, poking fun at themselves and their public perceptions. The show also lightly touched on some heavier topics, like politics and racism, but in a way that only drag queens can, while keeping the tone of the show.
In the second part of the show, the queens went head to head against each other in a roast battle. It was Ginger vs Phi Phi, Bob vs Thorgy and Monet vs Monique, and in each battle, the crowd voted for the fan-favorite (Monique was robbed!). Ginger, Bob and Monet advanced the final round, throwing shade and reading each other to filth. And by the audience’s vote, Monet X Change was crowned the clear winner.
The show was undoubtedly one of the best events I’ve ever been to. I went in, trying to lower my expectations to avoid being disappointed but the queens all blew me away. It was incredible, seeing them go from my tiny laptop screen to real life (Bob was a ‘Suspiciously Large Woman’) and the best part is: you don’t have to have watched a single episode of Drag Race to have a good time. The show was the first time my friend had ever seen a drag queen and she was absolutely living for the whole show.