By Mikkel Hyldebrandt
The Spread Eagle, co-hosted by Connor Lyons and Mason Frost at the Atlanta Eagle, is one of the newest, queer comedy variety shows in Atlanta. We caught up with the two to talk about the show and why comedy is particularly important right now.
First tell us a little bit about the Spread Eagle comedy night: When did it start and how long have you been hosting it?
Connor: The Spread Eagle is a new monthly comedy variety show featuring mostly Stand-Up, but also drag, DJs and improv. We love to call it a variety show to keep things open to different kinds of talent and themes. Our first show was February, so we have now had six shows so far.
Mason: There was a night at The Hideaway when Connor and I were talking about the show moving from its previous location to The Eagle, and he asked me what I thought about joining as a cohost. I didn’t remember this conversation until he called me a few days later asking for a picture for the flyer. I said, “flyer for what?” And the rest goes down in the history of me being a very agreeable person after a few drinks.
You’re now a part of the Atlanta Eagle’s entertainment offering. How is it to perform at the Eagle and how has the reception been?
Connor: It great to have a show at The Eagle! The gays have been flocking there since they opened at Pride 2022, and the staff has been super helpful in making it all happen. The Eagle is a well-known bar in the LGBTQ community at large, so it’s an ideal place to host a queer-forward comedy show. Atlanta has a fantastic comedy scene with shows all around town every day of the week, but very few queer rooms. So it’s great to build a bridge between these two communities. We love giving opportunities to queer artists, but we also love having a straight ally talent involved. I love seeing how hetero comics interact with a queer audience!
Mason: I have been continuously impressed by the turnout and energy we’ve received month after month. The Eagle has been a hub of dancing and fun nights for decades, but it so nice to see different elements of entertainment succeeding in the space, especially the comedy and drag nights that bring a more inclusive environment. I’ve truly loved seeing the full rainbow being represented in the space.
It seems there is a queer comedy surge happening right now – why do you think that is happening?
Connor: Loaded Question! But I really think the general public are ready to tune in more to different perspectives and queer artists are becoming more bold to create more opportunities for themselves. Hell, we’ve been hearing plenty of the hetero narrative from the beginning of time, it’s time to hear more from the Queers. I think queer comics are really bringing something fresh to the stand-up world.
Mason: Politicians have made a joke of the queer community for centuries, and it’s our turn to get the last laugh. The simple fact that the queer existence lives so heavily in the minds of bigots IS comedy, so let’s mess with them a bit!
Why do you think the queer community needs humor and comedy right now?
Connor: Stand-up can be a more intimate form of entertainment and touch on more specific matters of the human experience. I like to think of it as having a conversation with the room. That’s definitely how we like to set things up at our show. We’ve had so many moments of comics and the audience bantering back and forth. I love it. Sure, we can see a drag show any time – and we got great drag in this city – but try something different! We have great queer comics in this city too!
Mason: As beautiful as it is to be a part of the queer community, it doesn’t come without strife, heartache, and darkness. Bringing some light and humor into the mix gives us moments of intermission during the fight for equality.
What are your aspirations as a queer comedian?
Connor: Doing comedy is fun but very challenging. Most of the time I do stand up, I’m the only gay dude in the room. It can be a struggle, but it can also be invigorating if you lean into it. It’s on you to write good material and deliver it well. It’s a great feeling making a room laugh, it’s even better if you teach‘em something while you do it. I’m not sure where I’ll go with comedy, been doing this about four years and still feeling it out. It would be great for stand up to lead into sketch and film work. I just hope to keep doing it and improving as a performer. I love the people and the culture around it.
I’ve found I really love the producing side of Comedy as well and I want to continue to promote the queer artist scene in Atlanta & beyond. It would be great to bring in big name comics to the city. I’ve thought Atlanta could really pull off a queer comedy festival even. There are already 3 other successful comedy festivals here: Red Clay, West End Comedy Festival, And Laughing Skull Fest. Why not have a Queer One? Just an idea for now. We’ll see.
Mason: I don’t consider myself a comedian, more so a storyteller that tries to find the funny parts of this passionate and fanatical world we live in. I aspire to honesty, kindness, and to keep people thinking after they listen to what I have to say.
The Spread Eagle comedy is every first Monday of the month at 8 pm at the Atlanta Eagle.