Blizzard acts Interviews

“I always try to ask myself who am I laughing at and why.” | Quenby Harley talks kink, comedy and cock tales

Tell us about you/your act.

I’m a queer, feminist comedian and performance artist. I use comedy, spoken word and drag to explore my experiences around gender, sexuality, and identity in general.

What would you hat sets you apart from other acts?

Well normally queer, feminist, non-binary comedian is a pretty good USP but that kind of breaks down when it comes to gigs like Blizzard. I think it’s a bit early in my career to try and define my act. At the moment I’m having fun exploring what I can do!

How important is it to have Queer exclusive places in comedy?

I’m writing something about this at the moment so I won’t go into too much detail here. For any marginalised group I think a safe space for performers to develop and learn their skills is invaluable, it’s how you get more diversity in comedy.

How important is your look in your act? When did you find your look?

I think I’m still developing my look, I only got this haircut a couple of months ago. It depends on what I’m doing. Obviously it’s a big part of my drag performances, but mostly I’ll wear whatever I feel good in on the day (which is also my approach to clothing in day to day life).

How different is on stage Quenby to social Quenby?

My onstage persona is a louder, more confident version of who I am in day-to-day life. I am simplified into a relatable character. When doing stand-up I also have a narrower emotional range than I have as a real person.

How did you get into comedy?

I was at a loose end and went to Lolshevism back in January 2018, from then on I was hooked. With the help of my uni comedy society it didn’t take me long to move from audience to performer.

What inspired Cocktails and Fucktales?

Like far too many decisions in my life it started with a terrible pun! I joked that I wanted to perform at an event called Cocktails and Cock Tales, a week later I was still thinking about how this hypothetical night could work and I decided to give it a go.

What’s it like running your own kink-comedy/spoken word night?

It can be challenging. It’s difficult to find acts which fit the theme of the night, and finding a venue which was comfortable with the content was a struggle. But I’m really proud of what I’ve created. It feels like it brings something new to the performance scene, and I’m so proud that we’ve created an atmosphere where people feel welcome to share stories that would normally go untold.

Do you find there is a dedicated audience/circle of acts involved in Cocktails and Fucktales?

Absolutely, there’s this amazing sex positive community that’s grown around the event. Our regular attendees are so supportive of the gig and really help make it a welcoming space. I’m also really grateful for the awesome acts who come back regularly, in particular our Writer in Residence Victoria Blisse.

What’s the best gig you’ve ever had?

Trans Pride Leeds held a performance night where I got to share the stage with some amazing trans performance artists in front of a beautiful queer audience. It was an amazing experience.

What’s your favourite thing about working in comedy?

Creating material that speaks to people’s experiences and brings joy to difficult topics.

Who is your favourite comedian we’ve never heard of?

I was MCing a stand-up night at the Bradford Fringe and there was an act called Jane Doe. I was backstage and had to bite my hand not to disrupt her set (about exploding penises) by laughing too loudly.

What challenges have you faced working in comedy?

Being fat and visibly queer there’s a lot of comedians whose material treats me as the punchline. In that situation I have to bite my tongue or risk being seen as “difficult”.

How do you think that comedy as an industry can better address these issues?

We need more people standing up against harmful material. We need more gigs like Blizzard that create safe spaces for marginalised performers.

How important is it to you to apply your feminism to your comedy?

Intersectional feminism shapes how I look at the world. I generally don’t explicitly think “how can I apply feminism to this set?” but it definitely influences the perspective I bring to my comedy. I always try to ask myself who am I laughing at and why.

What appealed to you about being part of a show like Blizzard?

Feminist comedy is my jam!

Apart from appearing at Blizzard, what have you got coming up that we should look out for?

I’m up in Edinburgh for a few weeks in August and taking sometime to rest after that. Cocktails and Fuck Tails will be back in September (probably the second Wednesday). I also have a series called Haikus in Salt, which tries to bring beauty to the mundane with poetry about my day to day life.


Quenby will be performing at Blizzard on Monday 26th August.

You can keep up with what they’re doing by following them on Twitter and checking our their blog.

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