When opportunities come along to speak to special cabaret artists like the phenomenally talented Jordan Gray, I’ve learned to always grab them with both hands. So, without further ado…
You’ve had quite a remarkable few years. You were the first trans person to be nominated for an Edinburgh comedy award, and to appear at the London Palladium. What does it feel like to be a trans trailblazer, particularly in this climate?
It’s bloody lovely to be called a trailblazer. Since I was an 8-year-old mad scientist, I’ve only ever wanted to do something spectacular that mattered to people. I love the pressure of making art in the times that we’re in. Everything comes with an extra weight to it that
we’re gently steering the course of history. That said, don’t give me too much credit – I have an entire 3-minute song about bread.
What can people expect from Is It A Bird? at Bloomsbury Theatre?
If you work backwards from the title, it’s very loosely “super” themed – “is it a bird? Is it a plane?”. But, of course, I’m transgender and I’m from Essex. So “is it a bird?” is the sort of thing somebody might whisper to their mate as I stroll past with my giant hoops and my 5 o’clock shadow. It’s 90 mins of silly comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously. And it’s punctuated with musical comedy. I’m VERY proud of it. It’s probably the most meaningful thing I’ve ever made. Which is funny because it’s so stupid.
Professional memory from the past 5 years that makes you smile the most?
During my 2022 run at the Edinburgh Fringe, I started out performing my show in a shipping container – before we sold out and were moved to these massive spiegeltents. But before we moved, there was one night when the heavens opened and the shipping container leaked so badly that we nearly had to cancel. There was nowhere for the audience to wait without getting wet. I was SURE they’d all leave. Then we opened the doors and sure enough, EVERY SINGLE one of them funneled through the doors, soaking wet, and filled the room. It was a beautiful thing to see. I felt very special. The room smelled like a wet dog all night – but it was worth it.
Number one musical inspiration?
Jeff Buckley. I think he might have been a fallen angel. But you can’t make me pin down one inspiration. I’m a sponge. I soak up Johnny Cash and squeeze out Marilyn Manson. I soak up Pearl Jam and squeeze out Nina Simone. That’s my favourite thing about musical comedy – you can hop genres and it’s actually a good thing.
If you could, which social media platform would you consign to Room 101 and why?
I would say X (Twitter) but I’m fairly sure ol’ Muskrat is already driving that one into the ground. You already took away my blue tick… now you want me to PAY for the privilege of being called a nonce by terfs 12 times a day? Nah, mate.
Away from the stage, what brings you joy?
Minecraft. And jacket potato with cheese, beans, and butter (which I’m not allowed at the moment because my intestines are having a wobble). So mostly Minecraft. It’s like a dopamine drip. I don’t know what coal miners are complaining about – Minecraft makes it seem so nice!
Jordan Gray will play the Bloomsbury Theatre on Friday 27th October.
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