The twunks are coming!
Not many comedians have forged comedy careers from a social media account impersonating Rhonda Burchmore, but that’s exactly how one third of comedy trio Twunks (past tense of twinks), did. Lana Wilson spoke with funny twunk Thomas Jaspers about gay life in the middle ages.
What do you get when you pair together three, twenty-something gay comedians into one Midsumma show? You get Twunks staring Nath Valvo, Joel Creasey and Thomas Jaspers.
The two-performance-only show plays on the affectionate nickname given to gay men who “still clutch onto the low cut singlet, late night club days of their youth,” - usually between the ages of 25 - 40.
“The show is a reflection of the gay scene as a whole, as told by three twunks,” Thomas Jaspers says.
“Although to be fair, Joel is only 21, but spends most Friday nights at home with a slow cooked spaghetti and Downton Abbey DVDs, so we feel the description works for him in reverse.”
A string of special guests will be joining Jaspers, Valvo and Creasy on stage in stand-up, song and storytelling, include Fiona O’Loughlin, Marney McQueen, Kate Langbroek, Monty Diamond, Em Rusciano, Brendan McLean, Adam Richard and Big Brother 2012 winner, Ben Norris.
Jaspers says Twunks is the perfect opportunity for audiences to analyse the more light-hearted elements of gay life in Melbourne.
“Twunks is no ground-breaking revolutionary theatre,” Jaspers explains.
“It’s just a fun, boozy, tongue-in-cheek night of comedy designed by Melbourne queens, for Melbourne queens.”
The comic friendship between the three first formed when Jaspers bumped into a friend who was on a date with Valvo.
After becoming familiar with Jaspers’ stage work, (he did a stint in acting school before dropping out to do short films) Valvo asked if Jaspers would open for his acclaimed Grindr: A Love Story show during last year’s Midsumma season.
One “trashy” night of celebrity gossip and “fantasising about who we would like to see on Twitter” resulted in Jaspers creating a parody account impersonating Australian theatre queen, Rhonda Burchmore.
“Being music theatre wannabes, we decided the ultimate celebrity tweeter would be the fabulous Rhonda Burchmore, so I started [an account] called ‘Rhonda Butchmore’,” Jaspers says.
“It was only ever supposed to be an ‘in’ joke between the three of us, but Anthony Callea and Tim Campbell got onto it and started playing along, so all of a sudden it grew out of nowhere.”
After Jaspers’ ex- boyfriend, comedian Josh Thomas, encouraged him to develop the character, he and Valvo filmed a series of Youtube videos with Jaspers dressed in drag as Rhonda Butchmore.
“I think he was just sick of me putting on shows for the dog and wanted me out of the house,” Jaspers laughs.
Eventually, the Youtube videos caught the actual Rhonda Burchmore’s attention, and she asked Jaspers to collaborate.
“Having a wicked sense of humour, [Burchmore] asked me to do some videos and live shows with her, and now I’m getting invited to more gigs as Rhonda than I am as myself!” Jaspers says.
“I’ve created a monster.”
Aside from Burchmore, Jaspers credits comedy circuit kings Alan Carr, John Inman and Adam Richard as inspirations.
“They have all found ways of being one hundred per cent true to their camp, queenie selves without alienating mainstream audiences,” he says.
Just like the Rhonda Butchmore Twitter account, Jaspers says the conception of Twunks was also created on Creasey’s couch, six months ago.
“We spend a lot of time there drinking and giggling, talking about celebrities we do like, bitching about the ones we don't like, inventing stupid characters, and we thought wouldn't it be fun to do this on stage?” Jaspers explains.
“It can be really hard to sell 'gay' to a mainstream comedy audience, so we thought Midsumma would be the perfect opportunity to put on a show that is all about gay-ness and is very specifically targeted to Melbourne - expect lots of jokes about The Peel and Miss Candee!”
After a successful 2012 for all three, with Valvo signing to commercial radio and Creasey releasing his first DVD, Jaspers says 2013 is sure to be even more promising.
“We are definitely looking at touring Twunks so we think we might give it a crack at a couple of other festivals around the country later in the year,” Jaspers says.
“I'd like to do a rural tour but I don't know how well jokes about the cost of entry to Poof Doof would go down in Wagga Wagga.”
“As Saint Jane Turner of Toorak would say; "2013 is going to be euuuuuuge!"”
Twunks (past tense of twinks) The GH, Corner St Kilda Road and Carlisle Street, St Kilda, February 1 -2, midsumma.org.au
(Image: Thomas Jaspers who is teaming up with Joel Creasey and Nath Valvo for Twunks during Midsumma.)