As visionaries comedy, entertainment and live performance art, Atlanta performance-variety team Queeriety is the furthest concept from straight anything.
In less than a year, Queeriety has made quite the splash on the Atlanta scene. Composed of improvisers, standup comedians, and sketch comedy writers that all identify as queer, members of the company hail from several comedy theaters in Atlanta. The company performs together as a unique take on the traditional variety show. Each show is a fabulous Queeriety mash-up that spotlights the group’s diversity, multifaceted talents and whimsical experiences as queer comedians in Atlanta.
Founder and performance artist Nick DeGroote’s inkling for forming Queeriety began percolating back in May due to his dissatisfaction with how the queer community was being portrayed in the comedic world, he tells Q.
“So often, I would see queerness used as a joke or a punchline in a comedy show, which made it look like our sexuality itself was a joke,” DeGroote says. “I also noticed that there was a lack of queer representation in comedy, and I wanted to change that. As a result, I formed a team of queer-identifying comedians in Atlanta to push back against that narrative and show that we rightfully deserve a seat in the comedy world.”
Co-founder Anna Jones was all for the idea when DeGroote mentioned it, she says.
“Nick and I met doing volunteer work at Village Theatre,” Jones tells Q. “After we became best friends over the fact that we are both queer, lovers of RuPaul's Drag Race, Parks and Recreation, and horror movies — and sassy mf-ers – he told me his idea about starting an all-queer improv team, and I backed him on it 100%.
“I believe my exact words were, ‘You have to totally do that!’”
And do it they did. Queeriety has expanded quite a bit through the course of the year, starting with a few small performances with a couple of eager artists, growing to multiple shows at multiple venues, rounded out by a spectacular cast of dynamic performers.
“I’m taken aback by how much we’ve grown in the last six months,” DeGroote says. “We performed our first variety show in June to celebrate National Pride Month to gauge what the reception from the community would be like. I pitched the show as an improvised version of Queer Drunk History at The Village Theatre, the theatre that myself and other team members regularly improvise, and it sold out within days.
“Since then, we had a smaller show at Village Theatre, and we regularly perform as an improv team at Dad’s Garage as part of their Melting Pot diversity showcase. We have begun to incorporate sketch comedy into our shows as well as having drag queens perform. We’re also looking into developing a queer-focused web series.”
Queeriety follows up its first smash Queer Drunk History with a sequel set returning on December 8. The original production consisted of standup sets performed by comedians Ian Aber and Julie Osborne, with drag queen Biqtch Puddin’ sharing a short story while improvisers performed scenes stimulated by her antics. The last half of the show was all Queer Drunk History.
“We pre-recorded a cast of Atlanta-based drag queens – Nicole Paige Brooks, JayBella Banks, Biqtch Puddin, Dax Exclamationpoint, and Brigitte Bidet,” DeGroote remembers. “We asked them to retell stories focused on historical queer figures such as Marsha P. Johnson, RuPaul and Ellen DeGeneres while being drunk. We aired the scenes during the show, and our improvisers then performed scenes inspired by them as well.”
DeGroote assures that the second Queer Drunk History is back with a vengeance, one any comedy lover would not want to miss. Queeriety will add sketch comedy and stand-up sets, then end with a drag show featuring the queens from the initial Queer Drunk History.
“Honestly, we did not expect for us to grow this much,” Jones says. “We thought we would be a small improv team, but quickly we realized Queeriety is just bigger than we are.”
How big? Big enough to share, the founders say.
“We want to give back to the community as much as possible,” Jones and DeGroote say. “We’re currently looking into becoming a non-profit to continue producing queer content and are hoping to partner with queer charities and queer organizations in Atlanta.”
Queeriety brings Queer Drunk History to 7 Stages on December 8. The troupe also appears at Highwire Comedy Co. on December 15 at part of the Superconductor Improv show. Follow @Queeriety on Facebook and Instagram.
This article originally appeared in Q magazine. Read the full issue below.