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Jonathan Van Ness is Bringing Fun & Slutty to Canada

The Queer Eye star talks to IN about how excited he is to bring his newest comedy tour to Canada, reclaiming the word slutty, and befriending his childhood idol…

By Bianca Guzzo

Jonathan Van Ness has been gracing our screens as the beauty expert and self-care advocate on Netlfix’s revival of Queer Eye since 2018. He has written and released multiple books, his own hair care line, hosted a podcast called Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness, and a Netflix show of the same name, and a couple of world-wide comedy tours (just to name a few things). His latest comedy tour, Fun & Slutty recently wrapped up in the United Kingdom and is making its way across North America with stops at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal on July 29 and in Toronto on September 22. IN talked to Johnathan ahead of his Canadian stops about the tour, finding his comedic voice, and using the word slut in a motivating way. 

Even from a quick chat over Zoom, Johnathan is exactly what you would expect him to be. He is as quick, charming, and hilarious as he is on episodes of Queer Eye or on social media. It’s the personable delivery of everything he says that helps draw a live audience in when he’s performing on stage. JVN describes his comedic style as going “really dark and then really light” as a way to get the audience comfortable with his material. “I feel like a lot of our trauma and a lot of our joy can live quite close to each other on any given day, so I think sometimes when I joke about darker stuff, I feel like I’ve noticed people have to have permission to laugh,” he explains. He also says what he thinks makes a good joke is all about creating an atmosphere where everybody in the room is to not only be comfortable, but to also be ready for anything he might do or say. The flow of his stand-up keeps the crowd on their toes, so they’ll always be ready to receive the punchline. 

Eager to get back to the Just for Laughs Festival, JVN says the energy of Canadian crowds of comedy-lovers is really unique to the festival. He also credits Just for Laughs for helping him hone in on his comedy style. His first time hosting anything was a televised “JVN and Friends” which took place at the 2019 festival and he’s since gone on two headlining tours of his own. He says JFL gave him the space to explore his own approach to comedy. “I feel like I’ve learned so much about my style and my delivery and how I like to write and how I like to perform,” he says. 

Recently, JVN has been opening his social media motivational mantras with the phrase “you’re a hot slut” to kickstart the day.. It’s no coincidence that Jonathan’s current tour is called Fun & Slutty. It’s a seamless continuation of reclaiming a word in a positive way that has long been used as an insult. “For so long I was a sex worker and I’m also a survivor of sexual abuse and I think that I had so much shame around the idea of ‘slutty’ and what slutty meant.” He’s learned from people that he loves that “sluttyness” is the unabashed experience of pleasure, and that it’s so much more than having sex. He stresses the importance of taking the shame out of sexuality because sexuality isn’t something to be ashamed about. “ It’s the abuse, the lack of power, it’s the lack of consent, like those are the things that are bad,” he explains. Redefining what it is to be a slut and turning it into a term that anyone can connect with can be healing and powerful. “Maybe you’re doing it with 50 people, maybe you’re doing it with no people. But you get to do it because you want to do it, because that’s how you want to express your joy and your connection to pleasure.”

JVN’s career has spanned over several mediums from Game of Thrones commentary to an award-winning podcast. Whether it’s giving someone a haircut to get their groove back, or interviewing industry professionals to gain a better understanding on how the world works, there’s always a unifying message that JVN cares a lot about whatever the subject is. His career has brought him to places he never dreamed it would. He says getting to become friends with his childhood idol Michelle Kwan was a total highlight. Doing her hair, skating with her, and doing gymnastics with her was something he didn’t think would happen. Being a five-time Emmy nominee was also something he ever expected, as was launching his own hair care line. “I mean everything honestly that has happened in my career is so far beyond my wildest dreams, so I’m really just so excited that I get to experience my life. I feel so lucky,” he says.

It’s also given him a unique platform to speak about the issues that are close to his heart. He says he’s always been into queer liberation, being an advocate and activist for the queer community has never felt like a choice, but rather something that’s always come naturally. “I grew up in a time when marriage equality is not the law of the land and I think we live in another time where it’s clear nothing is guaranteed,” he explains. With all of the current anti-trans legislation currently happening in the United States he says “I’m always going to be an advocate for liberation and for queer people.”

JVN remains a bright light we can turn to for laughter, education, and a master class on total self-love and acceptance. Next up on his list of dreams to accomplish is a comedy special and he really wants it to be Fun & Slutty. “I really think it’s this show. I think this is my strongest work,” he states. He creates a space that anybody who is already a fan, or a fan-to-be will feel comfortable in enjoying themselves to the fullest in. He hopes Fun & Slutty makes people laugh and more importantly “I hope that they get to take away that they get to experience joy on their own terms. Like, we get to define what joy and what comedy is for us”. 

Jonathan Van Ness will host “Fun & Slutty, A Night with Jonathan Van Ness” at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier in Montreal on Saturday, July 29 and at Meridian Hall in Toronto on Friday, September 22.

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