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Late Night with The Drill Queens

Review by Sean McQuaid

In my younger days, when free time and waking hours both seemed more plentiful, I was fond of late night talk shows. These days, the curmudgeonly codger I have become seldom watches much late-night television, so it was a refreshing, nostalgic change of pace when The Buzz sent me to "Late Night with the Queens and Friends".

The queens in question are Cynthia Dunsford and Laurie Murphy, the comedy duo known as the Drill Queens. The July 17 edition of their late-night show opened with a too-brief set by their great house band: eternally underrated singer-songwriter Scott Parsons, backed by Wayne Dunsford and Reg Ballagh. After that, the Queens presided over typical talk show fare-commentary on current events, a Top Ten list (cleverly disguised as a Top Nine list), and interviews with assorted guests: Jim Ferguson (local radio figure), local comedian Jenny McQuaid (a.k.a Bridget), Eyes for Telescopes (a popular local band) and local singer Marlene Handrahan (currently appearing as Miss Stacey in Anne of Green Gables). A very local line-up with little in the way of big names, but no less entertaining for that, and somewhat more celebrated celebrities are reportedly slated for future shows regardless.

The conversation with Ferguson was a surprisingly funny crowd-pleaser. The house's energy dipped somewhat with McQuaid's stand-up routine as "Bridget", a rambling and repetitive affair that seemed to run a mite too long. Things picked up with another short set by the house band, followed by a few songs from Eyes for Telescopes-a very loud performance, and the vocals were often overwhelmed by the instruments, but powerful stuff all the same; and there's something pleasantly surreal about the eerily serene manner of the band's lead singer, Belinda Doyle, amidst all the instrumental bombast. Handrahan capped the show with a weirdly varied selection of songs that showed off both her impressive pipes and her versatility-one minute she could pass for an old-time torch singer, the next she's doing profane spoken word monologues and a spirited cover of a Saturday Night Live ode to masturbation. I may never look at Miss Stacey the same way again.

As for the Queens themselves, their foray into late-night land yields mixed results. The reliance on conventional talk show shtick sometimes works (their "top nine reasons beer is better than religion" was wickedly biting satire) and sometimes doesn't (the current events commentary fell thuddingly flat). Regardless, one wishes they might come up with more unique-to-the-Queens concepts in terms of how they fill out the non-guest portions of the proceedings. As co-hosts, the friends and longtime collaborators are well-matched-Dunsford's cocky swagger and Murphy's sweetness and light balance each other nicely, and both are pleasant and funny in conversation with the guests, though not always as in-control of the proceedings. At over two and a half hours, the Queens' late show runs a bit, well, late for us curmudgeonly codger types, especially when the show wraps around midnight.

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