AJ Lamarque’s work as a writer, standup comedian, and presenter acts as a testimony to the undeniable presence of queer excellence in Sydney.
WORDS Harry Hadley
As the producer of Oxford St’s longest running standup comedy show, Kweens of Comedy, AJ Lamarque has worked to create a space inside Sydney’s queer community which aims to elevate comics within the scene to their full potential.
In his own words, the monthly event is “a unique comedy show that celebrates all types of comedians and all forms of comedy,” with an emphasis on welcoming individuals from all different walks of life and embracing their shared love of stand-up comedy.
Kweens of Comedy had taken a short hiatus, but it’s now back on the scene and better than ever.
I had the privilege to sit down and chat with AJ over a coffee to discuss what the longest-running comedy event on Oxford St is all about.
So who is ‘Kweens of Comedy’ designed for?
“I think it’s changed over time. It’s been running for five years now, and it started off when I was doing comedy for the first time,” AJ tells me.
“I wanted a space that was a bit friendlier than the normal comedy gigs around- which tended to be a bit ‘bro heavy.’ It was for the audiences and the artists to have a stage where they didn’t have to worry about the jokes they’re telling, or if they look a certain way.
“I think now it’s just evolved into a really fun Friday night out. It still holds that safe space for people, but you can’t claim progressiveness. It’s for the audience as well, who want a space that feels pretty chilled, and that they know it’s curated- to a certain level.”
So how important is creating a safe space for LGBTIQA+ comics in the Sydney comedy scene?
“The audience that comes here has to be comfortable walking into a gay bar and going up a flight of rainbow steps, so immediately there is one barrier that prevents certain types of audience members from physically coming in,” AJ says.
“Kind of like how I would just evaporate if I went into a cathedral. The physical infrastructure of the building provides some sort of protection.
“Also, myself as a mixed race individual, and the visibility of being the host, invites a lot of different audiences. My audiences tend to be quite intersectional and multicultural. And surprisingly, there’s actually quite a lot of age range.
“At any given gig, you’ll see people in their 60s and above, or young people in their 20s. And then there are the kind of people that you wouldn’t expect to see here but still enjoy the show.”
I asked AJ about the importance of comedy for queer people in particular- and its place within the queer scene in Sydney.
“I think comedy is incredibly important because it’s one of the few kinds of positive emotions that we kind of allow in the terms of the art scene,” he told me.
“It’s not to detract from the other types of art forms at all, but it’s to kind of complement that in the ecosystem.”
AJ also runs a biannual comedy newcomers program that will be starting up again in February of next year.
The Kweens of Comedy Newcomers Program is designed to be a comprehensive 101 on how to get on stage, perform your first set and get started in your comedy career.
Kweens of Comedy is at Ginger’s bar upstairs at the Oxford Hotel on the last Friday of each month. Doors open at 6.40pm and the show starts at 7pm.
For tickets or for more information go to www.thekweens.com.au
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