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Klub Kids Presents: Roast Battles, O2 Academy, Birmingham - review

By Rebecca Stanley | Theatre & Comedy | Published:

It may have been a gloomy Thursday evening, but eager fans queued across the streets surrounding Birmingham's O2 Academy last night to see a variety of RuPaul's Drag Race queens battle.

Klub Kids Presents: Roast Battles

It wouldn't be a physical battle however, instead six queens would be challenged to roast each other in a series of head-to-head roast battles. For those that aren't familiar with the term, roasting refers to a type of comedy in which you humorously mock or humiliate someone with a well-timed joke, observation, or insult.

This was a drag show like no other. Right from the start of the night it was set apart from the usual tours that come through the city with an introductory act of men dressed in cheerleader outfits and askew wigs dancing across the stage.

Klub Kids owner Andrew Hoyle was at the centre of this comedy routine, immediately ripping his wig off as it finished before engaging in warm, witty banter with the crowd.

He immediately warned us that this show would be offensive, and asked us all not to record any video and post it on social media to not land any of the participating queens in hot water.

I immediately questioned just how insulting this show would be, and it didn't take me long to find out.

Gracing the stage in a sparkling sequin blazer, E! red carpet reporter and TV personality Ross Matthews took to the stage as the evening's compere. The regular Drag Race judge usually comes across as a sweet and caring character, but last night he left the crowd howling as he made brutal observations of fellow Drag Race judge Michelle Visage, the competing queens, and even the audience.

Anyone that may have felt lethargic was brought to life thanks to Ross' exuberant attitude every minute he was on stage, and his flawless audience interaction.

He informed the room that each queen would perform a solo routine, before the battles commenced in the second half of the show. Without further ado, he welcomed season seven front-runner Ginger Minj onto the stage.

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Decked out in a shimmering green ball gown, Ginger treated fans to a number of scathing jokes about her fellow competitors, as well as roasting her own appearance and family members - afterall if you can't roast yourself, how are you meant to roast anyone else.

In recent months petitions have been rife on social media campaigning for Ginger to star as Ursula in the upcoming live action re-make of Disney classic The Little Mermaid, and last night the Florida queen showed us all why she is a strong contender for the role with a stunning rendition of Poor Unfortunate Soul from the film.

She demonstrated a rich and spine-tingling vocal tone along with impeccable acting skills that left the room cheering for more.

Next up was season eight queen Thorgy Thor, with a wild and wacky routine that encapsulated the star's bubbly personality.

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Decked out in her movie première realness runway look from the show, Thorgy's black glitter jumpsuit was only outshined by her dazzling personality as she had the crowd giggling along to her cutting jokes, as well as her erratic movement and noises.

Season eight winner Bob The Drag Queen followed Thorgy's performance with a polished set that made her truly stand out among the line-up of immensely talented performers. Each joke perfectly flowed into the next, and it was immediately obvious to all that she was totally comfortable with the task at hand.

Whether she was making fun of her fellow competitors or involving the audience with her act, Bob had the crowd wrapped around her perfectly manicured fingers.

Season four and All Stars Two queen Phi Phi O'Hara is renowned for being the 'villain' of Drag Race, characterised as having a malevolent personality.

Whether this is true or not, last night Phi Phi set the hateful bar high with a blistering routine that left my sides aching with laughter.

Shocked gasps repeatedly reverberated around the room with every wicked one-liner the dainty queen executed - and it was probably at this point I realised just how offensive this show was set to be.

Phi Phi was a hard act to follow, but season 10 performer Monique Heart rose to the challenge excellently with a fast-paced, loud and garish routine that saw the queen reading her fellow season 10 sisters in mere seconds.

Despite informing the crowd she was nervous, Monique was a natural comedian with each joke landing expertly. Even the simplest of glances or elongated pauses had the crowd in stitches, a reaction only seasoned comedians can usually muster.

Lastly, fellow season 10 queen Monet X Change wowed the crowds with racy and vulgar anecdotes that made the audience squirm and cheer at the same time.

She simply oozed charisma and had each audience member hanging on her every word. She upped the ante with a series of ruthless jokes about her fellow competitors, bringing the first half of the show to a sizzling close.

After a short intermission, the queens were back and ready to do battle in the wrestling ring on stage. To decide who would do battle, Ross took a spin on a virtual wheel that selected each competitor. The crowd had to cheer for who they wanted to move onto the final at the end of each round, further engaging us all in the chaos of the night.

First into the ring was Ginger and Phi Phi, with burns so harsh the front-row were in danger of catching on fire. After a harsh back-and-forth set, Ginger came out victorious and moved onto the last round.

Next up, Bob The Drag Queen and Thorgy Thor embarked on a bizarre clash that saw Bob deliver his roasts in the form of a rap, and Thorgy consult an organised folio for well-timed digs.

With Bob moving forward, that left only Monique and Monet to do combat. In what was my personal highlight of the night, the queens' comic confrontation was filled with hollering, laughter, and Monique even walking out of the ring to then come back for more.

The routine was simply haywire, and I couldn't take my eyes off it. It was a close call, but Monet was crowned the winner of her round and went forward to face Bob and Ginger in the final.

Taking it in turns to throw shade at each other, the three queens upped the ante even further with a filthy set of jokes that could make even the biggest fan of dark humour gasp.

Monet was crowned the winner of this show's roast battles, thus marking the end of a side-splitting evening that I won't forget for a long time.

Fans of insult comedy will love it, and those who aren't may just be converted. Klub Kids Present: Roast Battles is a drag tour like no other, one that I would implore anyone to see.

Rebecca Stanley

By Rebecca Stanley
@becci_star

Entertainment journalist for Express & Star and Shropshire Star. Contact me: rebecca.stanley@expressandstar.co.uk

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