The Lesbian Agenda is a GR8 (and not STR8 // SORRY I HAD TO) queer female-driven comedy variety show that happens (on average) every two months, and the next one is slated for TOMORROW NIGHT at Brooklyn’s Union Hall! Hosts Sophie Santos (who you may also know from Riverdale Live and Handmaid’s Tale: The Musical) and Jess Salomon (whose other shows include Dirty Laundry and The El-Salomons) will be joined by Lauren Ashley Smith, Eman El-Husseini, Katie Hartman and Jordan Kleine – in other words, you should 100% grab tickets regardless of your gender or sexual orientation, ’cause it’s gonna be REAL GOOD!
Sophie and Jess were nice enough to internet-talk to me about the origins of the show, what we can expect tomorrow night, and about what their dream theoretical scenarios would be if they could pick and choose ideal settings, audiences, etc. Read up on all of that below, and I REPEAT, get tickets if you’re still in town! Stave off those awkward family Thanksgiving dinner vibes for as long as you can!
Okay SO, first and foremost, how long has Lesbian Agenda been going at this point, and what was the conversation like in terms of deciding you wanted to start doing it in the first place? (Assuming it wasn’t as simple as like, “Hey let’s do a queer variety show thing!” “Okay!”, which it may have been!)
SS: About four months! We’ve been cookin’ since July. As far as why…I personally noticed there weren’t many queer comedy shows run by queer women in NYC! I wanted to create a space where lesbians could hang out and feel heard. It was long overdue. Jess and I just so happened to meet on a show and I immediately thought she was so funny. I think I approached her pretty quickly about doing it. Did it freak you out? Did I come on too strong? Be honest. We were both pretty busy doing our own things, but once the timing linked up, it was go time.
JS: NOT STRONG ENOUGH! Truly the gayest origin story ever: Two lesbians meet at a queer variety show called “Queerball” and decide to start another queer variety show specifically hosted by two lesbians – them. They immediately go on to make a very big commitment.
How often does the show happen, and what’s the format generally like?
SS: Every two months. I’d say it’s a little late nighty, a little standup-y, a lotta lesbian stereotypes-y. We always do an opening bit up top where we go over our agenda items, i.e. straight men must attend lesbian-lead classes. Between comics, we have segments like “Lez Get Quizzical: How Will She Die???” If people are unfamiliar with the trope, “bury your gays,” it’s not a matter of IF she’s gonna survive (lesbian characters barely make it past the pilot), it’s a matter of HOW?
JS: This month my wife is on the bill. She’s a comedian and also Palestinian. The plan is to have her teach the lesbians how to make hummus properly. So I guess also part food show!
SS: And at the end of every show we give away a Lesbian Starter Kit to one lucky winner to jokingly entice them to come to our side. Includes but not limited to: cat litter, Wildfang merch, a framed photo of Kate McKinnon (big scream).
Not that you don’t want EVERYONE to go and fill up those seats, but if you could curate a dream Lesbian Agenda audience, who would ideally be staring back at you from the crowd?
SS: Kate McKinnon. It sounds so generic now because she’s blown up, but yeah. Tig Notaro. Honestly any queer woman who wants a good laugh!
JS: Like if either of them were there or anyone remotely famous I would not want to know! Also ideally just no one I know. I always want to look out at the faces of complete strangers who have had a bit to drink but no too much, love to laugh and are up for a good time. But maybe Madonna …maybe that’d be ok because I do love her and she loves comedy but is not good at comedy.
Semi-similarly, who would be your dream lineup? I’m talking like, reach for the stars here // could be like, anybody from Ellen to Eleanor Roosevelt. (The latter is obviously dead and probably not very funny, but I would probably pay some dollars to see an unfunny ghost anyway.)
SS: Kate McKinnon. Tig Notaro. Lily Tomlin. God I wish we could have Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer. That would have been killer. Also Theo from The Haunting of Hill House (but I wouldn’t want her to bring the bad ghosts with her).
JS: Ohh these are all good. Ellen for sure. Wanda Sykes. Maybe Lea DeLaria, Hannah Gadsby, KD Lang, Rachel Maddow.
AND if you could do the show anywhere for one night only, including fictional cities/venues/etc., where would you pick?
SS: I mean, Vermont? I would love to do it in a cabin drinking a good glass of whiskey. Wow, I’m a walking stereotype.
JS: I love how attainable Sophie’s vision is here. We could do this! Fictional venue would be the Orange is the New Black jail, Johnny Cash style.
And finally, apart from this upcoming show on Tuesday, what’s going on in Sophie Santos/ Jess Salomon land for the rest of 2018?
JS: I’ll actually be in Vermont with my wife. We’re headlining the Vermont Comedy Club in Burlington Dec 21 & 22. We’ll be sharing the stage as “The El-Salomons”. Oh and check out our cartoon account on IG: @theelsalomons
SS: Haha, can I come? Please? I’ll be doing shows around town like NBC’s 1947 Thanksgiving Special at UCB Hell’s Kitchen on 11/21, SPACE Show at Mad Tropical on 11/30, and Cabernet Cabaret at Club Cumming on 12/12. All the while hunkering down to work on my solo show…(she was never seen or heard from again). Follow me on insta @sophieesantos for those updates!