Jonathan, Karamo, Antoni, Tan, and Bobby. If those names mean anything to you, you may understand the excitement I felt as my friend and I made our way to the gorgeous Orpheum Theatre in downtown Minneapolis on Saturday night. Although an emotional person, I don’t let those emotions show often I feel like every episode of Queer Eye that I watch leaves me in tears no matter how many times I’ve seen the said episode. There’s something raw and oh so very real about the way these people help other people out and it just really strikes a chord with me. That’s why I dropped everything on Saturday to go see one of these amazing and inspirational people on Saturday night- Jonathan Van Ness.
If you haven’t seen Queer Eye and have been living under a rock (okay, that’s harsh and I’m sorry but, seriously, if you haven’t seen it, please watch it), let me try and lay out who Jonathan Van Ness is. First off, and most importantly, Jonathan is non-binary and uses he/him, she/ her, and they/them pronouns interchangeably. For the purpose of this post, I will be using he/him pronouns just because I have seen things stating that Jonathan prefers these pronouns but I just wanted to acknowledge the beauty of this human being because, well, his transparency in being non-binary and shedding light on the word is something to be honored. Second, I am absolutely in love with this human so this “review” is absolutely going to show that. I’m not sorry about it. I think that Jonathan, along with the other men from the show, is just truly a beam of light in a super dark world. Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s jump into the fun that was had during his performance on Saturday night.
The night started off the same way as his show at The State Theatre just down the street three years ago (almost to the day!). Jonathan appeared looking absolutely fabulous in a sparkly rainbow unitard and took to the inflatable mat that had been set up right in the middle of the stage. You see, Jonathan is obsessed with figure skating and gymnastics and has been practicing some moves for his tour which he absolutely nailed. An interesting way to start off a night that was just supposed to be talking and jokes, it was so Jonathan and really got the packed audience excited for what was to come. Every move that he landed and every landing that he stuck (and he landed and stuck everything) was followed up by a deafening roar of applause until he was done with his short routine and took to the microphone. Different but an ice breaker for sure, seeing the passion inside of him while doing his routine just continued on as he took the microphone and jumped into a lengthy nearly two-hour chat with the audience.
Here’s the tricky thing about covering an event like Saturday night’s show. I don’t (and can’t) ruin the jokes that Jonathan told. I can tell you about the vibe of the room and maybe even lay out some of the topics that he went over but if you came here for a spoiler, keep moving along You won’t get that from me because I believe that a show like Jonathan’s deserves your attendance.
From gardening tips to mentioning his cats (this is one of the many reasons I love this human) to referencing Anastasia (you know, that old animated movie that is definitely my second favorite animated film ever), Jonathan’s performance and topics were all over the place but it somehow worked. He has this uncanny way of connecting with a crowd and it started off strong as he explained to the audience that he actually went to school in Minneapolis for a little bit. Yes, you heard that right, he went to the Aveda Institute in Minneapolis years ago and had an old teacher in the audience to prove it. I know that Jonathan’s job is to connect with people but this small tidbit and knowing that he knows the city and knows our quirks, that just added to this sense of familiarity and made the night truly feel like we were listening to a friend tell us about their recent journeys rather than a huge celebrity telling us about things that we all could only dream of doing.
The audience was clearly hanging onto every word that Jonathan said in such a gorgeous and respectful way. Other than the random “I Love You!” screams from the audience from time to time, everyone was silent as if not wanting to miss a single word or breath from him and I don’t blame them. Jonathan had a perfect balance of real-life stories, hilarious jokes, and empowering statements. Again, I can’t ruin anything for you nor do I want to but I felt his show feeling alive. I felt like I could do anything (even plant a pumpkin garden!) after hearing him mention how far he has come over the years and just hearing him talk about the little things in his life. It wasn’t all jokes. Okay, that’s a lie. I was laughing nearly the entire time but there were moments when Jonathan brought up some very serious topics, but the way he did it still felt real, and almost funny, while not diminishing the importance or severity of these topics.
Jonathan Van Ness is unabashedly himself and that’s something that I am truly trying to work on myself and also something I think this planet needs more of. Long story short, let’s all try to be a little bit more like Jonathan Van Ness while also being ourselves. Smile large, laugh a lot, make the funniest faces possible and just live your truth.
Before I sign off here I just want to give a mad shoutout to the comedian/ podcaster that took over the microphone while Jonathan changed out of his unitard and into a stunning dress. I feel terrible that I did not catch his name but his quick skit was absolutely flawless and had me and those around me roaring in laughter.
Go see Jonathan Van Ness the next chance you get. I promise, you will leave feeling refreshed, empowered, and with a smile that stretches so far across your face that it hurts.