Entertainment

Tuesday Thomas prepares the stage for trans comedians at the Pack Theatre

Tuesday Thomas knows that the last thing she wants when she books an all-trans comic lineup is the same perspective and punchlines polished by every cast member on stage. Instead, Trans Hilarious, which debuts at Pack Theater tonight, aims to avoid alibiism by changing things up and showing that there are as many ways to be trans as there are to be funny.

“We can talk about all sorts of things that make you laugh,” says Thomas. “You’re not going to see five different tutorials on surgically everting your penis inside your vagina … I think that’s what holds some people back when they think of an all-trans comedy show.”

As one of LA’s most active trans comics, Thomas is used to standing out in most cisgender lineups. On a recent night at the Comedy Chateau, the brash blonde is the first to flaunt her identity, flaws and all, in front of a crowd. “I look like Where’s Waldo and Joan Rivers hate the Gathering of the Juggalos,” she told the giggling audience. “If you ordered Jennifer Coolidge from Wish, you would get this.”

For the past 10 years, trying to break into the traditional male-dominated comedy club scene has been a struggle. That’s why she’s spent most of her career blazing trails that require learning new tricks, even at 60 (though she likes to remind audiences that “my pussy is only 40”). She wears her age as a badge of honor in the trans community — she’s even nicknamed “Tranma” on TikTok.

Tonight, Thomas is bringing together a variety of trans and intersex comics from across LA to create the first ever Trans Hilarious Show. With Thomas as host, the opening show will take on five comedians – Fifi Dosch, Leah Mansfield, 7G, Alexia Jasmene and Sammy Mowrey.

As small theaters and local clubs reopen their doors, Thomas hopes this will also mean more openings for marginalized performers who were excluded from much of the local comedy scene long before COVID hit the scene.

“Everybody was always saying you have to go to this club or that club and I wasn’t selected for one of those sign-up lists at the big clubs,” Thomas said. “I actually had one of the paid regulars call me and put me on the list after two years of trying to get into a club, and that’s when I realized that’s bullshit.”

Being passed over for stage time inspired Thomas to curate her own queer comedy meetups. In 2015 she founded the Freak Show – a raunchy and irreverent circus of burlesque, comedy, music and improvisation. The popular monthly event circulated through several comedy venues in LA and eventually branched out to 16 US cities for five to eight shows per month, including a residency in Vegas until the outbreak of the pandemic.

Thomas really had to get creative.

A headshot of a woman wearing a plaid shirt

Alexia Jasmene, formerly a pastor, now does a mix of acting, comedy and music

(Sean Kara)

Thomas rebranded their event, calling it CHURCH@Freakshow, and had it recognized by the US government as a 501(c)(3) religious organization. She hired fellow comic booker Julian Michael as her co-pastor. The shows now also double as religious services, with the congregation worshiping laughter as a healing tool. A portion of their proceeds are donated to various LGBTQ organizations and charities.

Trans Hilarious maintains the Freak Show’s punk rock spirit under Thomas’ guidance and in the variety of the evening’s performers such as Alexia Jasmene, who was a part-time church pastor in the US in a past life, moved to China and is now a mix of acting, comedy and music. As someone returning to stand-up after a nearly four-year hiatus, Jasmene says it’s refreshing to return to the stage with a show like this.

“It’s great that there are non-binary performers and one of the artists is intersex,” says Jasmene. “It’s a reminder that we have a community in name, but it’s really impossible to create a real community because everything is so diverse and different.”

A woman in a pink nightgown with a flower in her hairlines on her stomach in a bed with a rotary phone to her ear

Fifi Dosch.

(Iconic Pinups)

Comedian Fifi Dosch is the perfect example of how different trans comedian experiences can be. Dosch, who was previously a regular comedy store man, made the switch during the pandemic and says she returned to the iconic club with open arms when she returned for her first show last November. While it was a career highlight to reappear in the store as a trans woman, Dosch recognizes that comics often have a rough road in their position.

“These clubs can sometimes isolate somehow, for the most part they are still very heterogeneous places,” said Dosch. “I wouldn’t say that stand-up comedy is the most welcoming environment for anyone. And when you’re trans on top of that, life can sometimes feel unwelcome for you. I like having one [show like Trans Hilarious] so that people feel accepted.”

Pack Theater executive Royce Shockley says shows like Trans Hilarious have become part of the venue’s mission to be more accessible to all forms of comedy shows, particularly those produced by members of marginalized communities. Currently, more than 50% of the Pack’s shows are produced seven nights a week by people from LA’s BIPOC and LGBTQ communities.

“The most important thing about our theater is that anyone can put on a show, anyone can go on stage,” Shockley said. “Pretty much every night of the week there’s a show that someone can easily reach out to get some stage time. We didn’t feel like it should be this coveted thing that’s only given out to certain people, by certain people – comedy for everyone.”

Thomas’ goal is to keep the show happening in the Pack every second Thursday of the month, and as more trans comedians are eager to step into the spotlight, she wants them to have a spot where they can be seen .

“I hope this show just shows people that we’re here and that we’re good,” says Thomas.

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2022-03-17/la-et-tuesday-thomas-trans-hilarious-pack-theater Tuesday Thomas prepares the stage for trans comedians at the Pack Theatre

Caroline Bleakley

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