Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Bob the Drag Queen is Moontower Comedy Festival's best-dressed headliner

Eric Webb
Austin 360

She’s a winner, baby, and coming to Austin. 

Bob the Drag Queen took the crown on Season 8 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” and the performer has gone on to become one of the most successful drag entertainers in the world. Along with live touring shows, she’s made memorable appearances on TV shows like “Tales of the City” and “A Black Lady Sketch Show”; found legions of listeners through the “Sibling Rivalry” podcast with frequent collaborator Monét X Change; and clocked a few stand-up comedy specials under her immaculately cinched belt.  

The entertainer also stars on HBO’s Emmy-nominated “We’re Here,” an unscripted show that takes Bob and fellow “Drag Race” alums Eureka and Shangela across small-town America, helping people find their voice through the art of drag. (Bob’s alter ego, Caldwell Tidicue, also serves as a consulting producer.) The second season premieres in October. 

Bob the Drag Queen will headline Moontower Comedy Festival on Sept. 24. We caught up with the drag superstar over the phone. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

Bob the Drag Queen will headline this year's Moontower Comedy Festival.

I’ve seen your “Suspiciously Large Woman” stand-up special, and now you’re coming to Moontower. How does working stand-up crowds compare to working a drag show crowd? 

Well, every show I do is still a drag show. I'm there — it's a drag show. I've done stand up out of drag a few times. But also at this point, I'm really kind of operating from a standpoint (of) even if I'm not in drag, people still know who I am. It doesn't quite even the playing field. ... People expect less from you when you're not dressed up. That's not just drag; that's life in general. When you dress nicely, people expect more from you. And you know, when you dress down, people just expect less from you. 

Did you have to figure out the rhythm of keeping the crowd engaged in a different way? 

No, I started doing drag and comedy at the same time. My first performance was actually stand-up. So I didn't have to relearn a craft or anything. I was simultaneously learning.  

Whenever you find out someone’s a drag queen, it doesn't necessarily tell you what they do for entertainment, if they even engage in entertainment. … They play with gender, and they create art. Because you have people who do drag and stand-up, drag and lip-synching, drag and singing live, drag and acting, drag and socializing, drag and visual arts. I think it’s a common misconception that drag is specifically lip-synching to music. 

More:Why you need to check COVID-19 policies before seeing live and screen shows in Austin

Regardless of what the art form is on stage, the past year of live, in-person entertainment has been very, very strange and scary, and kind of quiet. Has that helped you hone in on anything in your creative life that you want to do differently? 

I certainly leaned into the digital space. I hadn't had a chance to do a lot of digital work beforehand, and I'm realizing now there's a lot of merit to it. ... I have a podcast; I went to two episodes a week. I post every week on YouTube. I've been on TikTok, having a lot more fun on social media than I have had in the past.  

Speaking of your podcast, I’m a regular “Sibling Rivalry” listener. Not everyone’s conversations with their friends can become popular podcasts. How did you find out that you and Monét had the kind of chemistry that could translate to an audio format?  

I just thought that our conversations were just so funny, and that someone should hear them. And luckily, Monet agreed it was wild enough to give it a shot. In the early days, we were really doing it ourselves, like editing it ourselves, everything. Over time, we got a lot better. And we had a lot of help, as well. It's no longer just the two of us trying to run the podcast alone, which feels really good. 

Moontower Comedy Festival headliner Bob the Drag Queen won Season 8 of "RuPaul's Drag Race."

In the process of having such a big stage over the past few years, and meeting all kinds of different people, has that been an educational experience for you, being exposed to different viewpoints that maybe you didn't even realize were out there? Do you think that's kind of helped expand your world view?  

Honestly, one of the biggest things (that exposed me to other world views) was actually moving to New York City, because it’s such a diverse town. From a small town to New York City, it was really wild for me to see people who thought differently than me, or outside of the status quo. ... 

The thing is, whenever I'm in these other towns (for work), truthfully speaking, if I'm traveling outside of “We’re Here,” when I'm traveling for a tour, I'm never really in the towns long enough to absorb any amount of the community. I'm always in and out. You show up the day of, and you leave the next day.  

You mentioned “We're Here.” It did make me cry successfully every single episode.  

Nailed it. 

Assignment fulfilled. Can you tell me anything about what we should expect for “We’re Here” in the future?  

First of all, I’m so grateful that we got a second season. That is a really big deal, and it's not lost on me, and I'm really proud. We're pushing the inclusivity boundaries even further. I was very proud of how inclusive we were Season 1, and Season 2, it’s even better. The stories we're bringing are just so impressive, so important, and really, really need to be heard.  

More:The right way to binge-watch ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’

How do you negotiate that, from a purely emotional standpoint, when you go into these small communities that you're not from? Do you have to actively work to push down any type of anxiety or fear going into those situations?  

Normally, no. I'm not gonna say what town it was — I don’t want to spoil anything — but there was one town this season where I was like, “Oh, my God, I feel triggered. Like, I grew up here.” … I felt like I was having flashbacks. 

You're working with people on very personal, intimate situations and issues in their lives. Does that ever bring stuff up for you from your own life that you find helpful at all?  

Oh, always. It is not uncommon at all for me to really see myself in (the subjects’) stories. You know, it's not like we're counselors or anything. ... We're just hanging out with them. And as they talk, we just relate and then, you know, you're both crying. Everyone always says, “I cried on this episode.” Well yeah, me too, except it was nine days and not one hour. 

At Moontower Comedy Festival

Bob the Drag Queen will headline the Paramount Theatre at midnight on Sept. 24. Single tickets cost $25. Go to austintheatre.org/moontower-comedy to check access for badge-holders and to review safety protocols.