In terms of comedy, RuPaul’s Drag Race has come a long way from its first season (with zero comedy-specific challenges) to the fifth season, which incorporated a touch of wit into every challenge, even the ones that weren’t specifically comedy-centric. Since then, some pretty major comedy queens have come and gone, and today we’re ranking the six best comedy performances by a queen. Not the funniest queen; the performances! That way, we’re taking into account a queen translating their natural wit into a comedy standard, which is WAY harder than you’d think. It also makes sure where measuring intentional comedy instead of unintentional hilarity. Because let’s face it: If we were picking the most unintentionally funny queen, it would be Alyssa Edwards by a mile.
#6: Coco Montrese’s Roast
The funny thing is, Coco Montrese totally had it in her to go all the way: She had a quick wit and some really devastating looks. Although the Tang highlights were … yeah, we won’t talk about those. Her Achilles heel was her competitiveness (and the Tang) but when she put the competition aside and just delivered what was asked of her, she could really surprise you. Case in point: her Roast of RuPaul was an unexpected treat, and her ability to turn her sharp tongue and college-level reading abilities into an amazing roast completely validated her position in the competition.
#5: Sharon Needles’ Michelle Visage impression
Two of Sharon Needles‘ greatest assets in season four were her ability to think on her feet, and her willingness to make the kind of risky, yet calculated, decisions no one else would. Impersonating Michelle Visage in The Snatch Game was a bit of a gambit on paper, but it’s also the kind of self-referential mockery that Ru and Michelle adore. The fact that she went into it with a killer back-story and got off some great one-liners is just icing on the cake.
#4: Shangela’s Laquifa stand-up set
You can’t really appreciate just how intensely difficult stand-up comedy is until you try it. And believe me, once you do, you’ll feel like you just survived a shark attack. For Shangela to not only win Drag Race‘s first ever stand-up challenge, but to handle it all so coolly and confidently while setting up The Heathers to fail is really a testament to the level of intelligence she’s operating on. She didn’t just win; she controlled the episode from beginning to end. Her character was great, the jokes were funny (although I recognized one of them from Andrea Martin‘s Edith Prickley character) and the amount of planning that went into really was becoming of America’s Next Drag Superstar.
#3: Pandora Boxx’s Carol Channing impression
The Snatch Game has become such an integral part of Drag Race that it’s hard to imagine a season without it. Yes, we can all see it coming from a mile away, and we know exactly when it’s coming (when we’re down to the final nine) and yet it never fails to delight. It’s launch during season two brought with it Pandora Boxx‘s lovably doofy Carol Channing impression, which still ranks among fans as one of the finest impressions on the show. Although she lost the battle to Tatianna‘s Britney Spears (apparently, they were grading on a hell of a curve that week) she kinda won the war in the end. RASPBERRIES!
#2: Jinkx Monsoon’s Little Edie impression
There were a lot of performances I could have picked when it comes to Jinkx Monsoon: She single-handedly saved her team’s Kidster Television show from being a total trainwreck, and her Telenovela acting was inspired. But ultimately, I had to pick her Little Edie impression for two reasons: First, it was the moment where she went from being the tertiary goofball to being the clear front-runner in the competition. And second, while every other queen dismissed her for choosing an esoteric character, she shut every single one of them up with her performance. That’s impressive.
#1: Alaska’s Red … For Filth
Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeee! Yes, I’m picking Alaska as the single best comedic performer of the bunch, and for good reason: Alaska is a sketch comedy genius. More than anyone else on the show, Alaska knows how to form a really great, out-there piece of comedy. She knows how to work with genre and mine them for every laugh she can. She understands the core fundamentals of what makes a sketch work, and that’s what I was looking for here. I picked Red … For Filth in particular because it’s the clearest showcase of Alaska’s genre work, it made Ru scream-laugh, and it’s the only performance ever on the show that managed to launch a meme. All together now: Your makeup is TERRIBLE.