Welcome to my review, recap, and power rankings of the eleventh episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 15 – “Two Queens, One Joke.” It’s a typical Drag Race stand-up challenge with the added twist of being performed in pairs, a la All Stars Season 2. Plus, a voguing mini-challenge, a “Rip Her To Shreds” runway, and an all-time best lip sync!
There’s a reason that Drag Race places stand-up comedy challenges towards the back half of the season, and it’s not just to have enough run-time to show comedy sets from every queen.
Comedy challenges are some of the most-subjective Drag Race challenges of all. It’s easy for producers to craft any kind of narrative they want for a queen purely by having RuPaul laugh more or less during her set and then matching Ru’s energy in the edit. Even a genuinely hilarious queen like Bianca del Rio could be stopped short by complete silence between her jokes..
While queens have a little bit of control over their fates in writing their own jokes, it’s not much. There have been many re-edits of iconically bad past comedy challenges where the addition of an audience laugh track or Ru’s own screaming laughter makes seemingly dead jokes come alive. There’s a version of Laganja Estranja’s iconically bad stand-up set with laughter included that makes her out to be mildly amusing!
With that in mind, it’s no coincidence that “Two Queens One Joke” was used to dismiss a queen who did perfectly okay but who would’ve likely crushed her competitors next week. That would have made the road to the finale more complicated and potentially cost us several front-runners along the way. Of course, this is exactly what I predicted last week, because I have seen a few (dozen) Drag Race comedy challenges before!
Luckily for us as viewers, the challenge yielded a highly-entertaining lip sync to Doja Cat’s wildly fun “Boss Bitch.” It’s a song I am utterly addicted to even without a lip sync to pair with it! It helped that the lip sync ran a full two minutes and five seconds of a 2:14 song.
That’s not totally unusual. The Ariana Grande lip sync on the full-length Episode 2 was a couple of seconds shy of two minutes. However, last week’s “Single Ladies” was a slim 1:47.
Eighteen more seconds in a lip sync is a lot of time for queens to endear themselves, especially when it means we get a full song with virtually no edits. Even some of our favorite evenly-matched lip syncs of all time like “Shut Up & Drive,” “Sorry Not Sorry,” and “Miss You Much” are heavily edited, and it’s obvious we lost some material to the cutting room floor. Here, we saw the nearly entire thing.
That longer lip sync was a result of this week’s second lucky turn for viewers: this was the first week of Drag Race returning to a 90-minute TV runtime on MTV, which means an hour-long episode edit! The episode had so much more room to breathe with an extra 20 minutes of footage. The return of seeing the judges in their private deliberations reinforced for me how essential they are to keeping the narrative of the show moving forward.
What does this mean for my Power Rankings compared to last week’s interview challenge? Absolutely nothing when it comes to the dismissal (which I anticipated), but this episode’s placements shook up our potential final four in a major way for the first time in several weeks.
Readers, start your engines. And, may the best drag queen win!