If you are a fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race, then Just for Laughs had show for you! As part of the Just for Laughs 2020 free virtual festival, they presented Canada’s Drag Race panel, a Crave original, moderated by Sabrina Jalees.

In the wake of the finale of Canada’s Drag Race, the Canadian version of RuPaul’s Drag Race, the panel consisted of the four finalists, Rita Baga, Jimbo, Scarlett Bobo, and the winner, Priyanka. Also on the panel was Canada’s Drag Race judge, Stacey McKenzie, who was streaming from her home in Jamaica.

I love Canada’s Drag Race and I saw every single episode. It’s one of the many shows that has helped keep me sane through the stay at home recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic. That said, this panel did not disappoint, and I was riveted from start to finish.

The show was moderated by stand-up comedian, producer, and host Sabrina Jalees, who was a guest judge on Canada’s Drag Race. She was a competent moderator who clearly has a lot of affection for the queens.

The queens, for their part, did not disappoint. They appeared on screen in full drag.

Montreal’s Rita Baga was resplendent in a red wig, sharp nails, and a pleather outfit reminiscent of a vampy superhero. Jimbo wore a black wig and enormous fake boobs — which he routinely played with during the show — and had makeup more elegant and beautiful than I had ever seen on him during Canada’s Drag Race.

Scarlett Bobo was dressed in a lovely dress made up of black straps, with hair and makeup reminiscent of glam rockers like Debbie Harry and Courtney Love. Priyanka was in full glam makeup and hair, with a leopard print outfit.

While Baga and Jimbo were perfectly poised throughout the show, Priyanka and Scarlett Bobo’s excitement and enthusiasm were infectious.

The panel discussed everything from the popularity of Canada’s Drag Race, to individual challenges both on and off the show, to how everyone’s lives have changed since the show ended. There was some cattiness, mostly from Priyanka, who, despite winning the show, regularly interrupted people to scream and throw shade.

In spite of this, you can tell there is genuine affection between the queens and Stacey McKenzie, who shied away from being brutally honest about some of the queens’ poorer performances.

One of the highlights of the panel was Stacie McKenzie’s impression of the late fortune teller Ms. Cleo, an impression which Priyanka bombed during the show’s Snatch Game.

If the show had one flaw, it’s that there were moments where Jalees or McKenzie disappeared, and you could not tell if they were still in the panel participating. My guess is this was due to a tech issue.

If you’re a fan of Canada’s Drag Race, you would have loved this show. It had all the glitz, glam, lipstick, and witty repartee one would expect from a panel of drag queens. Here’s hoping Just for Laughs does this again.

If you like your Canadian politics with an extra helping of camp, then Laureen: Queen of the Tundra is the Fringe show for you. Named after the wife of our Prime Minister (portrayed by Montreal drag queen Connie Lingua), this cabaret drag show explores what it’s like to be queer and Canadian under a conservative government.

The structure of the show is very loose. A sketch comedy number is followed by a lip synch performance followed by a testimonial. But throughout the production everyone’s favourite bad guy “Stephanie” Harper (a delightful cameo by Jordan Arsenault) makes sure to keep her evil eye over what’s going on.

The tone of the show skips back and forth between silly and serious. The silly numbers are mostly a portrayal of your standard Canadian clichés; RCMP officers, Celine Dion and Shania Twain all make appearances. Some of these numbers are hilarious; you’ll be laughing in spite of yourself at the Dion number for instance. Others numbers make the show start to drag a bit; the fake talk show number felt like a reject sketch from This Hour has 22 minutes.

But the real reason to see this show is the more serious aspect; the testimonials. In between all the silliness each member of the cast comes out and monologues what it like is to be Trans, queer, or an immigrant in Canada. The raw emotion and expressions of pain, fear, and hope is lovely stuff. It would be great if someone turned that aspect into a whole new show… maybe for Fringe 2016?

Laureen: Queen of the Tundra plays at Cafe Cleopatre until June 21st, for tickets or more info, please consult the Montreal Fringe website