Review | Cougar Morrison breaks the mould with ‘Comedy Queen’

Comedy Queen | Connections Nightclub | ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

In the world of drag, it’s perhaps become a little too convenient to sort our entertainers into boxes.

Compounded by the sound bite-centric nature of drag reality TV and a hungry hungry social media content machine, it’s not uncommon for drag performers (usually queens) to be labelled a Look Queen, a Dancing Queen, or, in Cougar Morrison’s case, a Comedy Queen.

Cougar Morrison has become a fixture of the local drag scene. Now a weekly host of The Court’s Drag Factory alongside Fay Rocious and Donna Kebab, Cougar has delivered TED Talks, dominated Perth drag competitions and sung as a shining star among the Perth Cabaret Collective.

Since the early days of their career (which is not that long ago, mind you!), Cougar has earned success as a singer, cabaret star, host, producer and drag queen – all the way to the main stage of Crown Theatre in the leading role of Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical.

In Comedy Queen, Cougar unpicks this notion of the ‘X’ Queen. The label. A concept that could easily devolve into a lecture, or an on-the-nose exploration of the categories we sort our queens and entertainers in to.

Cougar, though, displays her first talent before the audience has even entered the room. She knows how to produce and craft a top-notch cabaret style performance, drawing audience into a whirlwind hour that showcases her own vast range of skills, rather than comparing herself to other queens and performers who may carry a different label.

Throughout the evening, attendees are offered a selection of Cougar hors d’oeuvres for the tasting. Cougar can do glamour, with costume and wig changes galore. Cougar can sing, with a wickedly sensual rendition of Kylie Minogue’s Slow. Cougar can dance (and also do accounting?). And while doing it all, Cougar will make you laugh.

Cougar is joined by local burlesque stars Sugar Du Joure and Lucy Lovegun, who perfectly complement Cougar’s assortment of abilities with their own top tier comedy, glamour, acting and performance chops. The duo almost stole the night with their minty fresh toothpaste number, and their inclusion in the cast undeniably uplifts the overall production. I would even argue they should share top billing, if Cougar’s personal story weren’t the narrative force behind the show.

In the show’s final moments, Cougar reminds viewers that there is a throughline with all these labels we put on queer performers. Whatever box we put them in, the best ones make us feel. Whether it’s the joy and laughter of comedy, community connection through stories of shared experiences or the emotional depth of a soaring ballad. Cougar ends the evening with a stripped back, ascendant rendition of Over The Rainbow, disarming even the most cynical audience members with their shining authenticity as they belt out the adopted queer anthem.

I have vivid memories of their early forays into Boorloo’s queer performance scene. An androgynous cabaret star named Cougar Morrison was set to take over Deville’s Pad for their debut Fringe World season. I had no idea I was about to be introduced to a fabulously glamourous, funny, and multi-faceted drag talent who represents the breadth of artistic brilliance our city has to offer.

Needless to say, I’ve been a fan of this Comedy Queen ever since.

Leigh Andrew Hill

Image: Chayla Taylor

Comedy Queen’s PrideFEST season has ended, but stay tuned for future seasons of this fabulous show.

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