Rachel Scanlon Radiates Joy in Gay Fantasy

Comedy Reviews Rachel Scanlon
Rachel Scanlon Radiates Joy in Gay Fantasy

Pride Month may be over, but queer comics deserve our attention all year round. At the beginning of June, comedian and co-host of the Two Dykes and a Mic podcast Rachel Scanlon dropped her sophomore special, Gay Fantasy. In just under an hour, Scanlon delivers an exuberant, joyful set, fueled by an irresistible confidence that could power a small city. 

From the outset, Scanlon radiates excitement, diving headfirst into the duality of her personality as a soft butch. The way she explains her identity—in terms of sexuality and gender performance—is hilarious, snappy, and tailored to resonate with her main audience (fellow queers, of course). Scanlon also makes an astute point about straight people’s overly conscientious interactions with her rounding a corner to become offensive, which feels especially emblematic of the times. 

In fact, the whole special really captures a moment, not in comedy, but in queer spaces. As Scanlon deftly observes, the definition of queerness is changing, and as a result, so is the community, which now includes women who had their sexual awakenings watching TikToks over lockdown. And while Scanlon might have a laugh about this, she’s also wholeheartedly welcoming these newbies in. 

At the same time, Scanlon uses the special to document her own journey from a self-proclaimed “fat slut” who’s been around the block to the type of person who dreams about being caught reading a thicc non-fiction book. Gay Fantasy seems loosely structured from the outset, with Scanlon hopping between anecdotes and observations, but there is a strong throughline about how she’s changed over the years, both in tandem with and independent of the queer community. It’s both enlightening for viewers who aren’t that familiar with her work, and utterly relatable for any queer person who’s embraced the malleability of their identity. 

All of these jokes are delivered with Scanlon’s turned-up-to-11 energy, which is fun but could be wearying for some viewers. She’s expressive from head to toe, using smaller gestures like widened eyes or near cartoonish movements to make punchlines hit home. Some of her best physical comedy comes from the bit where she explains the unexpected connection between queerness and Jesus as she saucily pretends to be crucified. Few comedians can set a scene like her, and her jokes about her various fantasies are prime examples of this.

Scanlon is cheeky and flirty in Gay Fantasy, her verbal cadence falling into a pattern familiar to anyone who watches a lot of Gen Z/millennial cuspers in comedy, with certain turns of phrase (at the mention of Jesus, she winkingly adds “Ever heard of him?”) peppered throughout. Much like her indefatigable Energizer Bunny presence on stage, this is comedic black licorice—you’ll either love it (like I do) or switch to something else.

And hell, that’s part of the appeal of Gay Fantasy. Scanlon knows her audience well. She’s not trying to be palatable to everyone, instead making every single queer person (and clued-in ally) watching feel like they’re part of the best club ever—one where you get to be yourself and laugh your ass off at the same time.

Gay Fantasy is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Google Play and more.

Clare Martin is a cemetery enthusiast and Paste’s assistant comedy editor. Go harass her on Twitter @theclaremartin.

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