Stand-up comedy isn't easy. Crafting structured jokes that fit into a funny narrative takes a lot of work. It's not just all about throwing shade.
On RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars Season 5 Episode 7, the queens were tasked with one of the toughest Maxi Challenge formats. (Even more so than the superstar mash-up to a RuPaul song.)
With pressure mounting and the crown on the line, did "Stand-Up Smackdown" land the punchline or get pulled off-stage?
Overall, "Stand-Up Smackdown" is a pretty simple round that didn't offer much drama or surprises.
With only four queens left in the competition, this round was an uneventful penultimate race to the final battle. Sure, we got a few laughs, but the main focus was about figuring out which three queens would be competing in the finals and which final queen would get the chop.
This is a journey episode. A filler round to get us to the last leg of the competition.
It's a shame there wasn't a final Mini Challenge to push the queens further or get a few more laughs in. (Seriously, where are the Mini Challenges?!)
Miz Cracker dividing the comedy show line-up by strategy was a smart move.
This Maxi Challenge is the final chance for the queens to snag a win before earning a spot in the finals. The competition has been intense, and with many of the past victories being decided by little threads, any advantage would help.
The choice to air that reasoning in front of everyone was a mix of playing mind-games and creating drama for TV.
Miz Cracker is back to playing the producer yet again. We wanted drama and she gave us drama.
It wasn't huge chaos, but let's face it: the other queens would've decided the line-up strategically as well at a Top 4 stage.
Miz Cracker benefitted tremendously by the practice session with Ross Mathews and actress/comedian Jane Krakowski. Thanks to their help, she was steered in the right direction to get laughs.
This feedback is the type of saving grace that many past queens have ignored. When in doubt, if the judges are warning you about your style, you should listen to their feedback to change things around.
Miz Cracker heeding their advice pushed her ahead to snatch a competitive victory. (The battle was a tight race against Shea Coulee, which we'll get into soon.)
I’ve been telling these girls from the beginning, like let’s just be nice to each other tonight. But I guess I’m like Shea Coulee’s music because no one listens to me. You know what I’m saying?Miz Cracker
Her jokes had a great mix of light shade and structured zingers. She went after her fellow queens while also landing jokes that made fun of herself. Plus, she gave the audience time to breathe and process her jokes.
Miz Cracker is a natural on the comedy stage, so she had an easier time channeling her strengths. This challenge was her's to lose.
Shea Coulee, on the other hand, had a tougher road to get to a possible victory.
Her practice session with the judges bombed, and if she hadn't listened to their feedback, she would've landed at the bottom. Granted, Shea still most likely wouldn't have gone home if she epically failed (come on, she won two challenges!). But, her name could've floated out there as a vote.
It's strange to think she would have trouble in comedy. Didn't Shea kill it at the Michelle Visage roast during RuPaul's Drag Race Season 9?
It’s kinda embarrassing to tell your therapist that rose petals are one of your triggers.Shea Coulee
Shea's jokes during the stand-up were funny, thought-out, and poked a lot of humor at herself and the fellow queens.
She had one of the strongest stand-up routines out of the Top 4. At times, Shea and Miz Cracker were in tight race for the victory.
If there was a bottom two based on the Maxi Challenge alone, Jujubee and Blair St. Clair would've been it.
Jujubee struggled at the beginning of her set and it took her a while before she got into the groove. Once she turned on Ross, her jokes became cutting and hilarious; the perfect style that works for Jujubee.
Blair, on the other hand, fell victim to the pressures of the challenge. Blair got too much into her head and didn't have the confidence to trust her jokes.
Why didn't she keep the same energy she had during her practice round and the mirror moment?
The worst thing you can do on the main stage is not memorizing your material. You need to trust and let things flow. Blair holding onto the notepad was a safety blanket that weighed her down; the judges were right that it felt awkward at times.
Can you believe the worst two in the comedy challenge are the same queens who won the Reading Challenge on RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars Season 5 Episode 1? The story went full-circle.
The runway category of "Freak Out!" was playful and outlandish. You could tell the queens had a blast with this one to create something silly and weird.
Jujubee's outfit is my favorite of the round. The conflicting patterns strangely worked together, and the ensemble brought up many nostalgic memories of Vivacious from RuPaul's Drag Race Season 6.
Blair St. Clair and Miz Cracker's choice of abstract animals made them stand out in two different ways. Whereas Blair went with a technicolor creation that felt like Alice in Wonderland, Miz Cracker went dark with a steampunk crow. Both aesthetics worked for a freaky runway.
Miz Cracker: There’s this stereotype that drag queens have to be like beautiful in their makeup and glamorous and everything. But this is not necessarily true. Look a Juju! Look at her!
Miz Cracker: What was I saying? Oh right, humility and love.
In Shea's case, she looked great, but that's because Shea always looks great on the runway. Her rave/club kid outfit was safe compared to the other outfits and seemed like something she's worn before.
The outfit would've worked on a neon runway challenge.
Since this is the Top 4, the outfit needed a little something extra to push it over the edge. If she had done that, she probably would've won the round.
The lipsync of "Fancy" by Reba McEntire was a wordy and mellow performance.
The lipsyncs haven't delivered as hard compared to other seasons of Drag Race. Most of the performances have stayed tamed or failed to deliver high-notes. Could it be the song selection?
Miz Cracker and Kennedy Davenport delivered the past they could for the country song, but the number fell into the same trip. Mellow song, average energy, and no moments for the queen to shine.
Both queens channeled the fierce vibe of the song and served looks on the runway.
Miz Cracker won because she hit every word and worked the number with as much energy as she could. Much of the movements weren't needed, but there wasn't much else you could do for "Fancy."
Blair St. Clair getting eliminated was completely expected. Once Shea Coulee mentioned it was Blair's time to go during confessional, the foreshadowing spoke for itself.
Blair has only won one Mini Challenge while the other queens snatched a few Maxi Challenge along the way.
Plus, she did the worst during the comedy challenge. Blair had no other valid campaigns to keep herself around unless she went for a reality TV approach to convince the others to vote out Jujubee or Shea Coulee to better their chances of winning.
Jujubee: Ross, I’m so glad you’re here tonight. People don’t know that you wrote a book.
Ross Mathews: Mhmmm.
Jujubee: Oh sorry, wait wait wait. Blair, so a book is a whole bunch of pages with words.
That strategy wasn't going to happen. These queens are going for the "competing against the best of the best" mentality for the finals, so her time is up.
It's a shame to see Blair St. Clair go because she and her drag style has grown in the competition. Unfortunately, in these circumstances, the odds worked against her.
Last Thoughts From The Werk Room:
Jane Krakowski is perfection! She needs to return to the series again.
Could you imagine if Miz Cracker had voted for anyone else besides Blair St. Clair? The jaws would've been on the floor.
- Prediction time: the queens most likely voted for Blair St. Clair as well. Blair might've voted for Jujubee since she had some low moments as well.
Now, over to you, Drag Race fans!
What did you think of "Stand-Up Smackdown"?
Which queen had the funniest set? Would you have voted Blair St. Clair out of the competition? Which of the Top 3 will win?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Justin Carreiro is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.