Mixing the Mic: Dyketopia Brings Queer Comedy to Denver

Riley Cowing
Lee Robinson and Kate McLachlan of Dyketopia.

Dyketopia, a new Denver queer comedy show, lives up to its name. 

“[Dyketopia] was born out of a desire to show love to the people I love in my life, because queer people are so fucking funny,” comedian and Dyketopia co-host Lee Robinson says. “We are people of so much joy and fun and have so many niche jokes that just don’t fly in a regular comedy show. I wanted to have an avenue, as well, to channel all of that and be able to do what I want and create something really fun and interesting.”

The first show took place July 27 in Robinson's friend’s backyard, a warm, welcoming space with a DIY vibe. In order to achieve an interactive experience — similar to 2 Dope Queens, hosted by Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson — the night included a drag performance by Scarlett Ultra and games.

In one game, called Astro-Curious, Robinson and her co-host, Kate McLachlan, tried to guess an audience member’s astrological sign based on a series of questions. It worked. They determined one person was a Virgo based on the audience member's strong opinions about which direction a toilet-paper roll should be hung at home.  

“I told the audience I was a Capricorn and someone booed me,” McLachlan says of the Astro-Curious game. “Only at a show with queer women would someone boo me for being a Capricorn. It was so funny. It was one of those moments you wouldn’t get if it was a straight comic or a primarily straight audience. It was just awesome.”

Robinson has been involved in the Denver comedy scene for almost five years, first starting in improv and then moving to standup. 

“I saw more of a path for myself in standup,” she says. “Improv was really good for me to get my comedic feet under me and give me a lot of courage to keep trying and experimenting. But once I found standup, it unlocked my writing way more.”

Robinson recognizes that many queer people have been burned by standup comedy's reliance on transphobic, misogynistic or homophobic jokes.

“No one wants to be the punchline of a joke, and so many comics unfortunately still punch down,” she says. “And a lot of times [it] ends up that queer people are the punchline.”

Reflecting on the first Dyketopia, McLachlan recalls feeling implicitly understood by the audience — something not too common on the comedy circuit. 

click to enlarge Lee Robinson and Kate McLachlan are putting a fresh, queer twist on standup comedy. - RILEY COWING
Lee Robinson and Kate McLachlan are putting a fresh, queer twist on standup comedy.
Riley Cowing

“We were talking about how it was our first date with the audience,” McLachlan says, describing a moment from the show. “I said something like, ‘I hope we have eight hours,’ because girl dates take so long. That and so many other things my straight friends afterward asked me about. They didn’t get half the jokes, and that, to me, was thrilling, because I feel like I’m usually the one that has to explain myself to audiences, primarily straight audiences. There was something really exciting about not having to do that, to instantly feel accepted. And hopefully the audience felt the same way — that we all understood each other on a different level.”

When first starting standup comedy, Robinson worried about whether she should tone down her sets or include less queer content. Now she's found freedom in not self-censoring, and describes her comedic persona as a “hot, confident dyke.”

“I’m much more comfortable in my comedic persona and who I am as a person,” she says. “I used to worry way more about ‘Is my material too queer? I should tone it back.’ All the things that people do when we think we can’t be ourselves or be too much — that was really on my mind when I was starting out, because comedy is so straight, white-male dominated. So it’s like, you go to a mic and I’m like the only queer person there. Now I don’t give a fuck. I don’t care.”

She now performs fifteen-minute sets that are unapologetically queer.

“That’s a part of following what makes me happy, what brings me joy and what I want to talk about, but why would I not? Why would I focus on dogs and cats and that kind of thing versus me and some lesbians went to a strip club and oh my god, let’s talk about how absolutely gay and hilarious that experience was,” she says. “That’s what I want to write about, because that’s what’s happening in my life. I can’t bring myself to write about anything else.”

Leaning into what makes her happy is also what eventually led her to create Dyketopia.

“I’m no longer in that place where I’m waiting to be asked to be a part of something,” Robinson says. “It’s something I want, so I’m going to do it. I’m going to find the right people to be involved, and I’m going to create it.”

Dyketopia was Robinson and McLachlan’s first time doing anything together beyond just hanging out. They had a shared, clear vision of what they wanted the show to be like, and their goal as co-hosts was to keep the tone silly and light. Robinson describes their on-stage dynamic as goofy, exuberant and almost larger than life. Both are excited about the potential of Dyketopia, which they aim to host once a month.

Says McLachlan: “I can’t explain why it felt so special to have a show that we executed that people seemed to really understand and enjoy.”

Dyketopia, hosted by Lee Robinson and Kate McLachlan, returns at 7 p.m. Thursday, September 9, at a yet-to-be-announced location. Tickets are $10 and available at Eventbrite.

Lee Robinson and Kate McLachlan host an open mic every Wednesday at 8 p.m. at RISE Comedy, 1260 22nd Street. For more information, visit RISE online.