Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Sunday Read: First-Person - Mike Delamont on God is a Scottish Drag Queen

Of Vaudevilles all Atomic, Cabbages and Dragqueens
I don't believe in a God, but I like to think that if one ever did exist that they would have to be logical, understanding, and have a sense of humour.
by Mike Delamont

The original idea for God Is A Scottish Drag Queen began in 2006 at a monthly cabaret called Atomic Vaudeville. In this particular episode of SNL style sketch comedy, Jesus would be fighting against Satan in a traditional “battle of the bands”. We liked the idea that God was a man in a dress who never made mention of it. On our first night I wore a bright red wig and some sunglasses along with my floral power suit that I still use today, and I spoke with a dense and aggressive English accent. Some folks laughed, but the reaction was far less than what we had hoped it would be. Myself and the character's co-creator Jacob Richmond (Creator of LegoLand, Qualities of Zero, and Ride the Cyclone) had a brief conversation after the show to figure out why it didn’t work, and I just couldn't quite put my finger on it. I decided I would sleep on it. When I got to the theatre the next day I had decided that I needed to change my wig and glasses to something more proper, and instead of the original english accent, which seemed too mean for the audience to enjoy, I would change it to something more melodic. And so on the second day, God became Scottish.

God existed as a very popular character on the stage of Atomic Vaudeville for the next few years and I became more popular as a result. As a performer I was always afraid to go it on my own. I had always depended on the crutch of a partner or an ensemble cast, but I found myself enjoying this solo character work more and more. For the cabaret I created an army of characters that I still use today, and everybody has their favourite, and I would say that God is one of the top for me.

In 2011, I applied to the Fringe in my home town of Victoria BC but didn't get in. I was living in Toronto at the time and wasn’t doing much performing there and so I decided that on a trip home in April I would do a show. I booked the space, designed the poster, and got myself a plane ticket. Did I have a show? Nope. A script? Not at all.

The show as it stands today is a 70-minute performance, but back in April the show was just shy of 2 hours.

In April, I sold out 2 performances in one night of the very first show of God Is A Scottish Drag Queen. I had fussed over what I would call the show and had a number of other options. High on my list was “My Invisible Best Friend”, but for people who didn’t know the character, it needed to be something more specific. A very plain and simple description of the character would end up being the title. The show as it stands today is a 70-minute performance, but back in April the show was just shy of 2 hours.

I knew that there were jokes I wanted in the show and when I took the stage I had an idea of what I wanted to say and do but not one moment of rehearsal. I had been performing the character for so long that I knew it inside and out and had no fear of walking into a sold out theatre without a script. Some of the original bits are still in the show, many aren’t, and the show today still has a nice aspect of improv which makes it more alive I think. While the show is now written and 90% the same, it always feels new to me every time I perform it.

I am often asked what my political and religious beliefs are and if this show is what I think God really is. The quick answer is that I don't believe in a God, but I like to think that if one ever did exist that they would have to be logical, understanding, and have a sense of humour. While I didn't grow up in a religious home, I did live next to a Baptist minister and his wife for the majority of my life and so I have a great appreciation for people of faith. I think there are many who benefit from the teachings of what it is to be a quality person, to forgive, and to care for humanity.

My show is not a drama, nor is it an education.

I have been called out on a few occasions because my show is not that religious, and I always like to respond by saying that the people who actually understand all of the religious jokes are not likely to attend God Is A Scottish Drag Queen. To be honest I try to stay away from a lot of it. The sequel to the show has far more political and religious content, but I try to keep it light. My show is not a drama, nor is it an education. It's a show to come and to laugh at. A critic once asked why I don’t talk about the pedophilia scandals that have rocked the church, and honestly it's not the style of the show. There are lots of things that I would like to preach to an audience about but if its not funny and doesn’t fit the character, it doesn’t get the green light.

My show tells people that not only does God exist, but that he has a sense of humour. I always worry when I go to a new city that they won't like it, but so far we have been successful. People ask what my beliefs are and I tell them to listen to one of my favourite performers, Tim Minchin. Tim is a fair, honest, and very smart performer who speaks far more eloquently than I ever will on most subjects but especially the subject of God. I don’t think it's fair to make fun of people for their beliefs. While I don’t believe in a God, if you want to then that is fine by me. In November of last year my mother unexpectedly passed away and it was the hardest thing I have ever had to go through. There was a moment as I sat beside her that I felt I should pray. And then I thought, to who? I had no crisis of faith on the most painful night of my life, but I felt that I should have. When the dust of grieving cleared I knew that when she passed away, my mom believed in a God and an afterlife and I think that there is nothing to match that. If you believe with every ounce of your being that you are about to go to heaven, then there is no morphine, no doctor, no anything that can give you that kind of peace.

My mother had always been a stage mom.

I didn't want to do this show after she passed. I didn't want to do anything actually. I worried that it would be too hard. My mother had always been a stage mom. She saw all of my shows and always had notes for me, written in her trademark illegible handwriting, along the borders of the show's programme. I didn’t want to get on stage and look out to the darkness of the theatre and know she wasn't there. She always sat at the very back of the theatre because she knew that I liked to pick on people, and because she always wanted to watch people watching me. In a strange turn of events, a week before she died, she was at a show of mine and she stood up at the back of the audience to stretch her legs and before I knew it was her, I had already called her out. I was gentle, and she was funny and it remains one of my favourite moments in life. What her sitting at the back gave me is a tool that has made me the performer I am today. When she sat at the back of the house, all of a sudden I wasn’t just performing to the folks at the front. I was walking the stage, talking to every person in the theatre. All of a sudden the back of the house became just as important as the front.

In September I premiered the sequel to the God show in my hometown and I couldn’t have been happier. When I take my shows on the road I want it to be an event. I want people to leave happy and with a feeling that they saw something new and something special. I want big lights, big sound, projections and all of the other things that go along with a spectacle. When the shows begin though, they get performed in the smallest and most intimate space I know. I perform on a stage that is 6 feet deep and a ceiling so low that I have to watch my head. In this space there is no room for error. If I'm not funny, the silence is deafening, and if I am funny then the sound is pure and real. It is the best way for me to create my shows. I don’t care how many people show up at those very first test performances because the show is constantly changing in those early days. It doesn’t have the polish of banners and screens, it's just raw and fun and intimate.

It has been such a long process with the character that I often forget that I actually wrote the show.

This past summer I was able to perform in Montreal, Toronto, New York, Las Vegas, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Victoria. My shows were sold out for the most part and I couldn’t be happier for the way people have embraced what I do. It has been such a long process with the character that I often forget that I actually wrote the show. People often tease me because of how I end my shows. Critics have said that I should end on a big laugh and leave the stage, but I don’t. At the end of every show I try to take a moment to thank the audience for being there. For them it's a night out. Maybe they have gone to dinner before or plan to do drinks after, and my show is an hour of entertainment. For me, their attending my shows means that this is how I get to make my living. I never cease to be amazed that there is an audience when I take the stage and it's difficult for me to express how grateful I am for the fact that they are there, that they tell their friends about the show, and that when I come back with new shows they are just as supportive. It means the world to me.

When I was asked to write this piece, I had every intent of being funny in it and I guess it didn’t really turn out that way. I am not the person that people see on stage and that can sometimes confuse folks. I've tried to write something that is open and honest to give you an idea of what goes on in this silly little head of mine.  


Mr. Delamont has just finished filming his first comedy special "Mike Delamont: Husky Panda" that will air on TV next year, and is currently in pre-production for another television show. 

Live performances: 

Mike Delamont: Husky Panda plays the Metro Studio Theatre in Victoria BC on November 10th at 7:00pm. Tickets available are $12 and available at

God Is A Scottish Drag Queen (Nov 14 at 8pm, Nov 16 at 7pm, Nov 17 at 7pm) 
God Is A Scottish Drag Queen 2: The Second Coming (Nov 15 at 8pm, Nov 16 at 9pm, Nov 17 at 9pm) 
Mike Delamont: Husky Panda (Nov 16 at 11pm, Nov 17 at 11pm)
All playing at the MainLine Theatre in Montreal QC from November 14 - 17. Tickets are $17 and available from

Mike Delamont Live plays the McPherson Playhouse in Victoria BC on December 12 at 7:30. Tickets are $37 and available at 
(Delamont will make history being the first local comedian to play a show on the stage of the 750 seat, 98 year old McPherson Playhouse)

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