Shante, you slay.
We’re nearing the end of RuPaul’s Drag Race‘s fifth season, and that means it’s time to make an important list: the 10 funniest queens in the show’s history. In an age when people like Vivienne Pinay and Ivy Winters insist that fishiness is more important than comic chops, we need to fight back. I watch this show for unbridled sauciness, wit, and unapologetic humor, and these ten queens all boasted fine gut-busting instincts.
I have to be honest: I nearly gave this spot to Tatianna, whose performance as Britney Spears remains Snatch Game‘s most hilarious triumph, but Detox is truly the funnier performer. Her wise-ass commentaries, chicken fierceness, amazing side-eye, jaw-wagging lip-sync skills, and general weariness of everything are total treats. She’d probably laugh more at herself if her facial muscles were capable of abject glee. I’m always waiting to hear her next confessional, particularly after we’ve wasted another five to ten minutes focusing on the boring feud between Alyssa and Coco.
Follow her on Twitter @TheOnlyDetox
9. Manila Luzon
Manila Luzon’s key ingredient for comic success is a strong one: commitment. Think of her violently smiley take on Imelda Marcos (which was so freakish, I’d have believed it if you told me she was playing a Filipino version of latter-day Joan Crawford; it was certainly a better tribute to Mommie Dearest than whatever Mariah tried to pull in season three). Recall her campy genius as she lip-synced “MacArthur Park,” a song that began as an innocent ode to leaving dessert items in a storm but is now remembered as Manila’s power anthem. The pure comic prowess in Manila’s facial expressions is the stuff of superstardom, and I hope she uses her skills to horrify children on a regular basis.
Follow her on Twitter @manilaluzon
8. Alaska Thvndervck
Maybe I’m biased because I humbly believe that Alaska has, um, THE GREATEST SPEAING VOICE IN THE HOSTYR OF EARTH and therefore everything out of her mouth is a gloriously deadpan, slightly perturbed, witty, and righteous piece of wisdom. But you can’t deny the objective awesomeness of her fragrance ad (“Red… for filth”), the lovely obnxiousness of her signature greeting (“Hieeee”), and her inspiring origin story (“My spaceship crash-landed her in the mid to late 1980s, and I’m trying to get enough Twitter followers to get it up and running again.”) It takes a lot to stand out from a boyfriend like Sharon Needles, and Alaska’s droll showmanship more than does the trick.
Follow her on Twitter @Alaska5000
7. Tammie Brown
Tammie is one of the great enigmas of RuPaul’s Drag Race, a proud weirdo whose comic defiance is as surprising as the fact that her Carol Channing realness parallels Pandora Boxx‘s. (She also looks quite a bit like Drew Droege‘s version of Chloe Sevigny.) Sure, she’s fallen flat in the competition more than once, particularly when she “read” Michelle Visage as an impulsive defense during the All Star season, but she’s one of the few queens on the show who is a true comic artist and uncompromisingly silly. Her old-school vaudeville flair is polished and unmatched, and her batty quaintness is a one-of-a-kind delight. Her icons range from Marlene Dietrich to Tammy Faye Bakker, and like all legendary queens she clearly knows everything about drag.
Follow her on Twitter @thetammiebrown