I had the pleasure of attending the Great Outdoors Comedy Festival starring Jonathan Van Ness, Monét X Change, Priyanka, Karla Marx, and DJ MollyFi. Read on for my honest review.
The event occurred at Prince’s Island Park in Calgary on a warm day with a gentle breeze. The event staff also strictly enforced an age limit of 18 and over, and attendees were required to present a valid government-issued photo ID for entry.
The VIP entrance provided early access, table-side service, and the best seats with an unobstructed view. General Admission tickets were first come, first served for grass seating in a designated park area with a walk-up bar.
DJ MollyFi created an upbeat and lively atmosphere before the main event with her remixes of iconic songs, including The Best by Tina Turner, Take Me Home, Country Roads by John Denver, and Alone by Heart. The energized crowd was delighted with the music and positive energy. DJ MollyFi’s contribution set an excellent tone for the evening and ensured the audience enjoyed themselves even before the main show began.
Karla Marx, an Alberta drag queen, opened the show with a land acknowledgement and a powerful call to action, urging the audience to become better allies for Indigenous communities. Karla captivated the crowd with her relatable and hilarious anecdotes, including the unforgettable moment when her parents stumbled upon her internet search history as a child and the complexities of lesbian sex. Karla left a lasting impression, captivating the audience with her unique blend of wit, charisma, and unabashed authenticity.
Canada’s own Priyanka was the third act of the evening’s entertainment, and her performance electrified the crowd. Priyanka, known for winning Canada’s Drag Race and co-hosting HBO’s We’re Here, showcased her vocal prowess by singing five unforgettable songs, including originals like Bad Bitches Don’t Cry, You Look So Good, and Country Queen. Her cover of Shania Twain’s Man! I Feel Like A Woman! had the crowd going wild, and she finished up with her hit, Come Through. Dressed in pink with a blonde wig, she was joined on stage by two backup dancers, showing off her impressive live vocals, cartwheeling skills, and playful connection with the audience. Many attendees likened her to a young Britney Spears.
Monét X Change, the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars season 4, wowed the audience as the fourth act of the night. Sharing personal stories about her experiences growing up, including struggles with not fitting societal norms in middle school and her mom’s attempts to “butch” her up with football lessons, Monét captivated the crowd.
She touched upon various topics, such as queer coding in Disney’s Frozen, tips for navigating Grindr hookups and reflecting on the intoxicating nature of love. The audience was left in awe when Monét showcased her exceptional singing skills with an opera performance of her original song, “Hungry Hole Opera.”
Keeping the energy high, Monét entertained the audience with hilarious anecdotes about her time in Edmonton’s SteamWorks bathhouse, the pitfalls of problematic Power Rangers, and her adventures with mushrooms and acid. Monét’s playful comedy skills were on full display throughout, mesmerizing the audience and solidifying her status as a standout performer at the event.
The night’s final act was Jonathan Van Ness, best known as the self-care expert on Netflix’s hit show Queer Eye. During their performance, Jonathan spoke about various topics, including the recent Calgary bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics, the power of affirmations, the importance of sex positivity, gender-affirming care, and reclaiming the word sluty.
Jonathan also tackled hot-button political issues, including Republican bans on sex education and unoriginal pronoun jokes among conservatives. Jonathan’s infectious energy brought a playful and lighthearted tone to the event, even getting the audience to share their own crazy sex stories. Though they frequently consulted their notes, Jonathan’s sparkling personality and charisma only shone brighter for it, delivering valuable life lessons on social media use, harm reduction, and the value of true crime podcasts.
Jonathan dazzled in a stunning silver one-shoulder dress, shining like a beautiful disco ball. Much like the broken pieces of glass that make up a disco ball, each reflecting light and creating a shimmering display despite their imperfections, the queer community endures hardships and challenges but still manages to shine brightly. Jonathan’s performance and lessons were a powerful metaphor for this resilience, reminding us that we can thrive with pride and strength no matter our obstacles.
The Great Outdoors Comedy Festival was downright filthy and delightfully dirty – and that’s exactly what made it one of the most enjoyable events of the year! Featuring Jonathan Van Ness, Monét X Change, Priyanka, Karla Marx, and DJ MollyFi, this festival was the ultimate celebration of queer joy. For the LGBTQ+ community and its allies, it provided an opportunity to come together for laughter, dancing, and sharing in each other’s experiences. Watching these performers light up the stage reminded us of the importance of staying true to ourselves and shining like the disco balls we were meant to be!