NPLH backsBogan queen. It’s the title budding Melbourne comedian Thomas Jaspers has crowned himself.

“It’s just because everyone else is calling me a bogan,”  he told Star Observer in the lead up to his first solo gig at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, No Place Like Homo.

“It’s funny, I try and be prim and proper, wear fancy clothes and nice aftershave but I’m far more at home at DT’s with the old queens and Bruce than I am at the GH in a low-cut singlet and a pair of shorts.”

The self-described “DT’s girl” says the lure of the comfortable harks back to his primary school days where he felt more at ease with teachers and his grandmother than other students.

“My grandma is fabulous; she’s the campest woman alive,” he said.

“When I came out, she said ‘well darling, here’s my theory: short and thick does the trick, long and thin goes too far in.

“I think I always got along with older people than I do with people my own age.”

It goes to the heart of this relatively new comic’s debut solo show – reflecting on a childhood spent idolising the fabulous Perfect Match host Nicky Buckley while most other little boys were idolising Saint’s footy legend Nicky Winmar.

He went to an all-boys boarding school and grew up in the south Melbourne suburb of Aspendale, where the Saints rule the roost and the colours red, white and black are sacred.

So for at least some of his show, Jaspers reveals how he struck a balance between being raised in Melbourne’s macho culture and doing what he wanted to do.

Such as the time a young Priscilla-obsessed Jaspers signed up to Auskick.

“When I was a kid, I… was obsessed with Priscilla: Queen of the Desert. I had no idea why.”

“I decided I wanted to do dancing lessons, I didn’t know what a drag queen was.”

In grade three, his mum sent him to ballet lessons to learn how to dance but at the same time they decided they had better encourage him to try other activities.

“So they sent me to Auskick and I hated it.”

With both parents busy running their own business, they drop him off at the local football grounds where young Jaspers would circle the oval alone until they picked him up again. For weeks, he would come home and describe how no one would play or even hang out with the ballet dancer.

So his dad took a day off work to watch a training session one afternoon.

“So he dropped me off and sat in the car and watched. I walked around the oval over and over and over again,” Jaspers explained.

“And it turned out he never actually enrolled me… so no one knew I was there, so I just thought the other kids didn’t want to play with me.

“They just dropped me off and thought I would be alright.”

Jaspers has been working at stand-up now for about 18 months, supporting his comedian pals such as Nath Valvo and Joel Creasey, or hitting up open-mic nights with his material.

Just this year, Creasey, Valvo and Jaspers presented the debut of their combined show, Twunks, at the Midsumma Festival which was a success for the trio with plans to tour the show around the country.

NPLH Saints and HeelsHis pathway to stand-up has been a slight cliché, he said.

“I went through a really rough break-up and my mum said I should start seeing a therapist… and my therapist actually got depression and I had to stop seeing him.

“So I thought this is good way to do all that stuff and not have to pay for a therapist.”

While Jaspers mocks himself throughout the show, he also touches on some heavy themes experienced by many other LGBTI folks.

“It was a rough time at school, my family were great but they just had no idea.”

While he never thought his dad was purposefully homophobic, he could see that his father, who was raised in a big Catholic family, had views on homosexuality that were at odds with how he felt for his son.

“I have huge admiration for him to work really hard to become ok with it… a couple of months ago he came to trivia at DT’s so he’s doing really well.”

Jaspers said he was pumped for the festival this year, drawing on support from industry friends despite some initial nerves.

Expect good things from the bogan queen from Aspendale.

No Place Like Homo runs March 27–April 7 at the Horse Bazaar.

INFO: www.comedyfestival.com.au

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