Jordan Raskopoulos, comedian
I think satire is one of the greatest tools for social change ...
Comedian, actor, writer and speaker Jordan Raskopoulos is heading to the Gold Coast on Tuesday May 7 to bring her latest stand-up show Entropy & Irony to The Spiegeltent. From television sketches to touring the world as the lead singer of musical comedy group Axis of Awesome, Jordan has been a regular fixture on the entertainment scene since 2005 – and has more recently become known as an advocate for LGBTQI+ communities, spreading her message to a broader audience through relatable content and humour. We caught up with Jordan ahead of her Gold Coast show to chat about roller derby, mid-show biscuits and using satire as a tool for social change.
We’re excited to have you on the Gold Coast as part of The Spiegeltent program with your show Entropy & Irony! Can you tell us a little bit about what to expect on the night? We hear there’s going to be biscuits …
Look, I always like to put snacks out just in case anyone has low blood sugar during the show. Very important. So yeah it’s a comedy show, but I’m not really a traditional stand-up so I kind of jump between song and dance and musical comedy, I’ll tell some stories, I’m reading an essay – it’s fun and it’s silly and it’s unique.
Taking things back a little bit. Did you always think you were destined for this career?
You know, we encourage children to perform and sing and dance as kids – and there’s just some of us that don’t stop. So I guess I am one of those. I went to uni, and I kept doing comedy shows, then I got picked up to do some television sketch comedy for channel 10 for a few years, then I started a band (Axis of Awesome) and did that for 10 years – and before you know it, I’m 37! So I’ve been a comedian all of my life, mostly because opportunities kept on happening and I didn’t stop. But now, I don’t have any other skills, so I can’t stop, even if I wanted to … I would be destitute!
It was back in 2016 when you released the video ‘What’s Happened to Jordan’s Beard’ on YouTube announcing and explaining your gender transitioning. While that moment received a positive and widespread response at the time, a lot has changed for the LGBTQI+ community since then, with marriage equality laws probably one of the more significant and publicised progressions. How has life changed for you from those first few months back in 2016 to now, three years on in 2019?
Yeah, it’s just kind of more chill now. Not entirely chill, but obviously 2016 was a pretty crazy time with coming out and with trans issues being so forefront of public conversation at the time, along with marriage equality and other LGBTQI issues. But now in 2019, my life is pretty normal, though I do feel more of a definite responsibility to being an advocate for the LGBTQI community … on top of being a funny bugger. So, a lot of the work I do nowadays sort of dovetails between both of those. For me, both my identity as an advocate and as a comedy performer are very important, and I feel if I lean too far to one side, I kind of miss the other. It’s a cool place to be though.
What was the driving force behind putting the new Entropy & Irony show together?
I feel like this show is largely for me in a lot of ways. I was kind of realising that last year I was doing a lot of advocacy work, and coming off the back of marriage equality campaigns and that sort of thing, and I felt like I hadn’t done something silly and funny and dumb for ages – and that’s sort of what the show is. It’s getting back to being a clown!
A lot of your advocacy work, where you’re promoting awareness and understanding to a broader audience, is done mainly through humour. Has humour always been a tool for processing, communicating and connecting for you?
I think satire is one of the greatest tools for social change. If we are able to use humour to speak truth and criticise people who are in power, then that is the best. I feel like that kind of stuff really cuts through to people who are usually unwilling to listen to debate or serious conversation. When you can put progressive attitudes in your humour, and when it stays funny and also has people come away thinking ‘ohh, they had a point there’, then you’re nailing it. When I manage to do that, I am very proud of myself.
You’re spreading a positive message through relatable content and humour across vehicles like stand-up shows, a TED Talk, podcasts and more – do you feel like you too take away something positive from your work, or does it take its toll?
When you’re exposing parts of your own life and your own story and trauma, it can take a hit on you. Like my TED Talk – I still haven’t actually watched that back. I am so pleased I did it, and so pleased it had a positive impact on a lot people, but it was really hard for me to do. Like, you don’t get paid, so it’s not like I got to fill up my pockets either! The TED Talk in particular was a talk about anxiety, so coming off stage and having hundreds of people wanting to talk to me wasn’t really great for my social anxiety! It is important to not burn out on worrying and being an advocate. You’ve just got to find the balance.
Tell us, what do you do for fun when you’re not working? We hear you’re a gun on the roller skates.
Yeah! I play roller derby for the Sydney Snipers. My roller derby name is Judge Booty. I played rugby as a teenager and through my 20s, so it’s great to be able to keep playing a contact sport in a very queer and trans-friendly and positive environment. Other than that, I paint miniature soldiers – that’s my hobby. It’s interesting though, with mobile phones and Netflix attention spans, it’s very hard to just sit still and paint nowadays, I kind of get restless every 20 minutes, which is a worry! I’m forcing myself to do more of it because I think I need to get back a bit of self control.
Finally, what’s your idea of happiness?
Everybody living genuine lives without shame.