Mike Delamont is pretty down to earth for someone renowned for portraying a deity.
The Victoria, British Columbia stand up’s latest work, God is a Scottish Drag Queen 2 is playing at the Tom Hendry Warehouse, hosted by Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival in September. The original, described by the CBC as “a hilarious and heavenly way to spend an hour” is considered a critical success, with Delamont clad in a fetching white dress and dark wig while comically dissecting the world around him.
But when it came time to craft the sequel to the one-man show, Delamont found inspiration in an unlikely place.
“We asked people what topics they wanted me to talk about in the next show,” Delamont says, noting that the catalog features everything from Mormons and Scientology, to priests and circumcision. “A big portion of the show is compiled from a list of the most popular requests. We got a lot! We’ll probably have to do a part three.”
Delamont started his career in sketch comedy, working with the award-winning Victoria troupe Atomic Vaudeville, which is where the first iteration of the holy character appeared.
“Back in 2006, Atomic Vaudeville came up with a sketch idea that would pit Jesus against the Devil in a Battle of the Bands,” Delamont recalls. “They wrote in a character for Jesus’s dad, as a coach to teach him how to do things, give him a few dancing tips. We knew we wanted the character to be in a dress but never acknowledge it.”
Delamont prefers the one-man show format, as he admits writing for other performers is not his forte. During his Atomic Vaudeville days, instead of a more narrative comedy sketch, Delamont would deliver an in-character monologue. By 2010, Delamont was hosting his own improv comedy show. As the God character grew in both depth and popularity, an idea emerged.
“I have a bunch of characters but this is the one I could see being successful in its own show,” Delamont admits. “It’s like those old Saturday Night Live movies. That’s a funny sketch for five minutes, but can you see people watching this for 90 minutes?”
Turns out audiences are watching, as the first Winnipeg run of God is a Scottish Drag Queen 2 played to entirely sold out crowds this past July. This is a welcomed change for Delamont, whose time in the world of stand-up comedy has not always been easy.
“If I’m playing a club, it might sell out but nobody came there to see me. They’re just coming to see Comedy Night,” he says. “No critics will show up. They don’t care if you’re a comedian.”
Booking his own shows in theaters, as opposed to the more traditional comedy clubs allows performers more legitimacy and exposure. That exposure is exactly what artists like Delamont are seeking.
“All of a sudden you’re getting reviews and people have an interest in who you are and what you’re doing,” Delamont says. “It helps you build a brand. The fact that folks from across the country come out and buy tickets to my show still astounds me.”