Joel Devereux, creator, Rumble at Wonderland Festival
I like people coming in with no experience and interpreting it their own way. Rumble is what you make it!
Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, The Price is Right – long-running game shows such as these have been a core component of the modern television-entertainment experience for decades. Like all things, game shows need to evolve, and a Brisbane-born stage show has been causing a stir this year with its wild antics. Extremely talented drag and burlesque producer Joel Devereux has taken the game-show format and given it a lively modern reinvention with his own show Rumble – three rounds of improvisational hilarity featuring some of Australia’s most engaging fringe performers. Rumble will be upping the ante as part of Wonderland Festival this year, but before the shows start we caught up with Joel to talk game-show magic and the unpredictability of Rumble itself.
Photography, make-up artistry and drag and burlesque production – you’ve built up a diverse resume so far! What initially drew you to these incredibly creative disciplines?
I’m a classic case of jack of all trades, master of none. I used to be a painter too. I suppose I just love engaging other different creatives and enabling them to do their best and that’s why photography, makeup and producing is so appealing to me.
We love the concept of your improvisational game show Rumble – where did the idea for the show originate?
I had been producing burlesque for around five years and was getting into the drag side of things with photography and wanted to shake things up a bit. I was really over seeing the same rehearsed numbers and no one taking any risks and decided a game show with some bizarre challenges was fresh for Brisbane, and no one had truly pitted drag and burlesque against each other before so I just did it.
Two performers, three rounds, endless wacky challenges – it sounds like no two Rumble shows are ever the same. What’s the best thing about Rumble’s unpredictability?
I’ve had performers create new acts around what they’ve been forced to do in a Rumble, so it’s really about inspiring a sense of confidence to do something that may not be as well rehearsed or have a $3000+ costume. I love those things as much as the next person but getting up there and assembling some IKEA furniture without instructions and having to come up with an act in ten minutes to No Doubt’s ‘Don’t Speak’ with only a roll of sticky tape is also great.
The show will feature appearances by a range of phenomenal fringe performers – what do you hope this cast of stars will bring to the stage during Wonderland?
Yes, I’ve assembled some of Australia’s best and brightest for this Wonderland season. I have a few returning contenders, but most have never experienced a Rumble before so I’m excited to throw them a few strange curveballs. I like people coming in with no experience and interpreting it their own way. Rumble is what you make it!
If you could participate in any game show in the world, which one would you pick?
Definitely that Japanese Hole in the Wall-style show. I would be terrible but Rumble takes a lot of its inspiration from the random and unprepared approach to games like this.
What other shows are you eager to catch at Wonderland Festival this year?
My dear friend and Rumble Wonderland Sunday contender Jacqueline Furey is debuting her solo show Fatale just before Rumble on Thursday to Saturday of the festival, which I highly recommend viewing. And our friends at Bombshells are producing Heatwave which I am very excited to see as well.
In regards to your other creative work, what kinds of subjects do you enjoy documenting most through your photography?
I enjoy working with a lot of performers and thankfully my production work allows me to be in contact with so many talented creatives. I work with local boys quite a lot but try to get interstate as much as I can. I chase the characters!
Finally, what is your idea of happiness?
Isn’t that just the question. Being far too busy to be depressed is key, surrounded by friends who support what you do, and enough wine to get you through the week. Having a positive outlook on life goes a long way.