GOD IS A SCOTTISH DRAG QUEEN — CHRISTMAS SPECIAL
Where: Farquhar Auditorium, University of Victoria, 3800 Finnerty Rd.
When: Friday, Dec. 9, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $48.75 from the UVic Ticket Centre (250-721-8480) or tickets.uvic.ca
Mike Delamont crosses Canada each year in December with the intention of spreading comedy and Christmas cheer under the guise of his popular iteration, God.
By all appearances, business has been very, very good this holiday season. The Victoria comedian’s God is a Scottish Drag Queen — Christmas Special tour recently passed through Ontario, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, where it was met with an overwhelmingly positive response. The fun continues for another week-and-a-half or so: He was in Manitoba for a performance Tuesday, and has upcoming dates in Alberta, B.C. and Washington State.
“The audience reaction is that we are certainly on the right path, so that’s excellent to see,” Delamont said. “But post-pandemic has been a different world, certainly.”
Touring across Canada, through regions where a few metres of snow is practically commonplace, has never been more fun, Delamont admitted. His tour schedule took a savage beating during the pandemic, with 390 shows in six countries cancelled due to COVID-19. He said he doesn’t expect to make up the lost ground for another years or so.
“It put us back about a decade, in terms of work,” he said. “We’d see a window and think, ‘Oh, great, I’ll book some more shows,’ and then everything would get shut back down again. It was back-and-forth.”
Delamont found regular work during the pandemic in the live stand-up comedy realm, thanks to the simplicity of his set-up. Unlike many in the live theatre or concert industry, he could commit to doing reduced-capacity shows where social distancing was still in place. “When the pandemic hit, all people wanted was the ease of stand-up comedy,” he said.
“I got hired to just show up with a microphone.”
Though his schedule in 2023 features everything from cruise ship appearances to traditional theatre gigs, God remains a dominant force and his primary source of income. Borne from the Atomic Vaudeville vortex in 2006, the character has been a standalone entity since 2011. He’s now up to four stage versions of the character, including his Christmas-themed offering.
For his new special, Delamont dives into “the weird potluck that is Christmas,” including jokes and observations about festivities and traditions such as Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Yule and Saturnalia. He’s hoping for a balance between the sweet and the sour as seen through the eyes of a dressed-down Scottish deity.
“I really wanted a stand-up show that had some sweetness to it. I hope it’s less Bad Santa and more The Muppets Christmas Carol.”
Delamont said he writes a new hour of stand-up each year, which is far more difficult than it sounds as the barometer of what can and cannot be mocked changes often. Such is life for a performer who gave up his day job long ago and now makes his annual income from being on stage.
“I never want to be punching down, so I want to be very aware of what I’m saying and how I’m saying it. If somebody is offended by a joke, I want them to be offended because I wanted them to be offended. That comes down to being clear about your intentions, and making sure it’s funny. It’s so easy to sit on jokes and think, ‘Well, that worked 10 years ago.’ We’ve had four different presidents since then. It’s a different world.”
He debuted the Christmas version of God is a Scottish Drag Queen in Victoria four years ago, while it was in the workshop stage. It is now a full two-act show, thanks to Delamont’s fastidious editing. He is constantly adding and removing bits, and reworking the material so that it avoids being rooted to one particular time or trend. “It was still kind of coming together [in 2018]. Now, it’s a polished gem. Or at least I hope it’s more polished.”
He continues develop his Christmas-themed effort, and said if he ever wanted to create a sequel he’d have enough material to do so. Though his version of God is by far his most popular persona, he’s wary of going to the well too many times. Delamont expects the current content to stand on its own for some time, minor tweaks notwithstanding.
“It’s the perfect length, and the perfect evening out for folks right now. It took a while, but it found its heart. The hope is that it has this kind of warm, nostalgic feel, which is what everybody wants from a Christmas movie. That was the trick to find, but I think we finally found it.”