Rhys Nicholson would like a show on the Food Network

Rhys Nicholson with husband Kyran stand in front of a red theatre curtain
Rhys Nicholson with husband Kyran at their wedding. Photo: Dainel Boud.

Funny-them Rhys Nicholson is joining the cast of season two of Network 10’s Taskmaster Australia. They told QNews about their recent wedding and what they’d like their life to look like in twenty years.

QNews: When I last spoke to you in 2019 you had just announced your engagement to your partner Kyran Wheatley and were thinking about having a destination wedding with friends flying in from around the world. How did that turn out?

Rhys Nicholson: Well obviously that didn’t happen because of Covid! We ended up getting married a couple of months ago at The Enmore Theatre and although we had to wait five years it was really the same plan.

We had a bunch of mates like Daniel Sloss fly in from overseas. It was on a Sunday and I got told by a producer friend that The Project were having trouble booking guests because they were all at my wedding!

The Enmore Theatre is such a beautiful room and we decided that we didn’t want to waste anyone’s time so we included all the speeches in the wedding and then it just turned into a party at the end.

Did you cry?

Rhys Nicholson: I cried during the speeches. Susie Youssef and Joel Creasy were my maids of honour. Susie gave a really funny speech where she joked she was a diversity hire for the wedding, but at the end, she looked me in the eyes and told me that I deserved love, and that really got the tears going.
During our vows I cried a bit as well.

In 2016 you publicly married Zoe Combs-Marr to highlight the hypocrisy of Australia’s ban on same-sex marriage. Was she invited to the wedding, and was there any drama around that?

Rhys Nicholson: Zoe is one of my best friends so we thought it would be funny to have her interject when the celebrant asked if there were any objections. Kyran pretended to get angry and yelled at Zoe to sit back down and we were all holding him back which was funny to everyone in the room except our nieces and nephews who are nine and six and thought it was real!

You were living and working closely with Kyran well before Covid. Do you think that gave you an advantage over couples who weren’t used to spending so much time together before lockdown?

Rhys Nicholson: Because I go on tour we do actually spend a bit of time apart. So Covid was still a test for our relationship. The way we coped was to go on separate walks to have an hour a day away from each other. But I’d buy a bottle of wine on my walk as a treat for Kyran and, not knowing, he’d do the same. So of course we had to drink them both!

We do work really closely together and I’m lucky to have that partnership. But it can be hard to know when to stop talking about work. You can be laying in bed together and work things come up.

You’ve been doing standup for about 15 years now. How do you think you’ve matured as a performer?

Rhys Nicholson: I hope I’ve matured! When I first started I was very focused on creating material that I thought the audience would laugh at but now the shows are more about what I find funny and hopefully the audience does too.

Working on Taskmaster Australia with Peter Hellier this year was a real experience even though I’ve known him for years. He’s from the generation of comics above me and on Taskmaster he is so funny in a way that someone can only be when they’ve been doing this for that many years. It’s like his funny bones have become honed over time. That’s where I hope to get to with my comedy. To be in my 50s and still obsessed with being funny.

Taskmaster Australia sees you reuniting with some of your castmates from Patriot Brains. Are you looking forward to taking them on?

With this year’s cast, we all know each other really well and yet we’re all such different characters. Some of us are more competitive than others but It was a joy to work with them all again. Mel Buttle and I have known each other since I was just a baby comic and I’m a huge fan of Taskmaster.

It feels like the shows I grew up with in the 90s where things were riskier. Shows like Rove that were live and chaotic. I love Taskmaster because it’s similar to Drag Race in that it has the feeling of a reality show but it’s based around talent and winning a competition as opposed to lasting the longest on the island.

Speaking of RuPaul’s Drag Race Downunder, you’ve been involved in all three seasons so far. Can we expect you back for season four?

Yes! I’ll be there! The flights are booked!

You’ve dabbled with acting throughout your career but you had your biggest role playing a villain in the Netflix’s superhero show The Imperfects in 2022. Do you want to do more acting?

Acting is a strong word for what I do on screen! Whenever I’m in something, it’s basically just me being myself in someone else’s clothes. It is something I enjoy doing. When I was growing up, I did want to become an actor, but then I realised I wasn’t very good at learning other people’s lines, so I did standup instead. I really like doing little one day parts on someone else’s show like I did on Fisk. You get to come in with a lot of energy and then you get to leave. If anyone wants to offer me roles, I’m here!

You also have your first book Dish out. It’s autobiographical but you’ve said it’s not a memoir. Can you explain that?

I’m 33 so I don’t think I’m old enough to release a memoir. Writing books is something I really find enjoyable so if I could release a book every three years I’d like that.

One of my favourite writers is David Sedaris and his style is sort of memoiring as you go. That’s how I enjoy consuming books and that’s also how I like to write.

Why did you include recipes in the book?

I’ve struggled with an eating disorder and the book is partially about that and how I became interested in food again. But it’s also about my views on the culture of food.

The first chapter of the book is a letter to the editor saying that I’m sick of doing standup and that I would like to have a show on the Food Network where I get invited to fancy restaurants and get to eat on boats. I’d like my life in my 50s to look like that. Eating in front of a camera while people tell me how they make the food. Not cooking it, just eating it!

What are your 2024 plans like so far?

  • I have a new standup tour lined up that I’m writing now.
  • I always try to make it to Mardi Gras and I love working during Mardi Gras because you get to go to the best parties.
  • I went to the ABC’s party during World Pride and the Prime Minister turned up!

And marched in the parade a lot, and I find marching can be more fun than watching sometimes, so maybe I’ll get myself on a float somehow this year!

-Taskmaster Australia Season 2 premieres later this year on 10 and 10 Play

-Dish is published by Penguin Books’ Viking imprint

For the latest LGBTIQA+ Sister Girl and Brother Boy news, entertainment, community stories in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

Andrew M Potts

Andrew has been covering LGBTQIA+ issues for a range of publications in Australia over two decades and was the Asia-Pacific correspondent for global LGBTQIA+ news website Gay Star News.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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