Brennan Lee Mulligan talks Dungeons and Drag Queens

Miu von Furstenberg 15 Min Read
15 Min Read
Dungeons and Drag Queens

You’ve seen drag queens face off in fashion challenges, comedy challenges and lip syncs for their lives, but have you seen them battle to rule the underworld? If the answer is “no”, head on over to Dropout to see four iconic and beloved queens from the Drag Race universe take on the world’s most popular RPG.

On Dimension 20: Dungeons and Drag Queens, four questing queens embark on an otherworldly journey, descending into the depths of the underworld with sass, style, and sorcery that challenges everyone they encounter. Through fierce undead battles, fumbling encounters with mythical creatures, and heartfelt moments of self-discovery, these queens leave an indelible mark on the underworld, weaving a tale of empowerment, acceptance, and the transformative power of drag.

Dungeons and Drag Queens
Photo by Kate Elliott

The season’s players are Bob the Drag Queen, Monét X Change, Jujubee and Alaska and with this lineup, you will never look at 20-sided dice the same way again. We had the privilege of speaking with the series’ creator and Game Master, Brennan Lee Mulligan about the show, his early experiences with the game, his comedy background with UCB and lots more in our exclusive interview. 

Watch the first episode:

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How did you come up with this idea of mixing drag queens and Dungeons & Dragons?

There was a ton of mutuality around it there. Over here at Dropout, there are so many fans of drag performance, Drag Race in particular, like Sam Rice, our CEO and Paul Robalino, our head of development. Also, my wife, Izzy Roland, introduced me to Drag Race many years ago.

By the time we were recording this, I had seen all of the various All Star seasons and amazing performances from Monét and Bob and the amazing cast that we had on the show. It was such an honor to meet Alaska and Jujubee and so, meanwhile, while all of us were tremendous fans of their work, I think there were a bunch of fans of Dimension 20 over in that sort of cosmos as well.

A lot of the management for these queens actually internally were big fans of Dimension 20. And so I think it was many years in the making of wanting this collaboration to exist. Bob the Drag Queen had already worked with Sam Reich on an episode of Game Changer, which was really lovely. And then emails just started flying sometime last year about getting a side quest together, and thus Dungeons & Drag Queens was born.

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Now, how did you personally get involved in Dungeons & Dragons?

I was 10 years old, I was being badly bullied, you know, you can only be put in a trash can so many times before someone does something, and my mom took me out of school, started homeschooling, and she said, I'm gonna sign you up for karate classes, and I'm gonna go put you in a D & D group.

My mom, Elaine Lee, was a comic book writer, and she had grown up around tons of guys who were playing D & D way back in the day, the original sort of white box, and then Advanced D& D. And I started playing 2nd edition and was taught the game for a little while by an older sort of ongoing D & D group nearby. And then I just got the books, took the game, taught all my little 10-year-old friends, and have been playing non-stop ever since.

I did a little research on your background, and I saw that you worked with Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB). How has comedy benefited what you're doing with Dimension 20?

So, hugely, right? I mean, there was a funny world in which I was playing D & D, I was writing LARPs as a very young person and then I sort of made a decision like, okay, where am I going to find a career? Where am I going to find a way to make a livelihood? And UCB in New York was just sort of a mecca at the time that I was going there. It was all these incredibly talented people. I had gone to school for screenwriting, but I was working as a bartender for a couple of years. I had screenplays that were just sitting in a drawer, you know, not going anywhere. So, I said, all right, we’ve got to go make some connections with cool and interesting people.

And I went to UCB and surprisingly ended up on a house team there and as a teacher there really quickly, which was very shocking to me because I had gone there kind of with an ambition that was just making some connections, right? It was networking essentially but the performance aspect really took off. And then that led to getting the job at College Humor and the comedy angle allowed us to make Dimension 20 and offer something new to the actual play space and come in and say, this is going to be a highly edited show.

We have the best editors and camera people and it's really highly produced show. We're going to dive deep into the storytelling, but with improvisers with comedians. And so, everything we do has that kind of comedic aspect to it, which allowed us, I think, to enter the space with a very different offering. And it allowed Dimension 20 – at a time when a lot of different things were launching – to show up at the potluck with a dish that nobody else had made yet. And that was, I think, really helpful to us in the beginning, to help us stand out and help people discover us.

Dungeons and Drag Queens
Photo by Kate Elliott

Now you've got some of the best comedy queens on this season of Dungeons & Drag Queens. Who was the most fun to work with out of the four queens?

All of them were equally wonderful to work with. They were all incredible. Across the board I was stunned. All of them were so supremely funny, but I was just amazed at all the ways in which these incredible comedic performers took to the game. You know, like, Immediately, Monét and Bob were collaborating and keeping us on track with the plot.

Alaska was so good at catching clues and puzzles and was so invested in the game. Jujubee was unbelievably emotionally vulnerable and these incredible heartfelt moments of her character's arc, all of them took to the storytelling aspects of the game. So, like, comedy, yes. effortlessly, right away, unbelievably funny, but the part of it that's like deep storytelling, I was blown away by how effortlessly natural all four of them were, truly.

I've seen on social media that a lot of people have been asking Bob if really he had never played Dungeons and Dragons before. So, did one of the players stand out more than the rest?

I would say that all four players truly shine, which is also is partially my job is to make sure that players each have their moment to shine. I think people will be really swept away by how meaningfully each of them contributes to the story. And I think each of them does have their Meryl Streep Oscar winning moment in this. By the end of episode four, you will have seen each of them have an incredible moment.

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I've been looking in the comments of the trailer, and it seems like your fanbase is very excited about the look that you've adopted for this series. Where did that come from?

Christine, you bring up a great point, and thank you for bringing this up. Listen, I try not to be wasteful in life and so, you know, I've been wearing a wardrobe of clothing for the past couple of years that updates slowly as I require more clothes. The fans of the show feel very heated about that. They think I should own many more shirts than I own and they are not shy about telling me that. To all of those fans, I'll say to them right now, thank you so much for your support of Dimension 20. You will get new shirts when I am good and goddamn ready. And to that end, being in costume for this season I think was very exciting for a lot of them.

It's an antagonistic bit that the audience and I have been doing for some years now and so the new look was really exciting for all. Props to Denise Valentine, our head makeup artist, and to Jenny Newman, who was our costume designer for putting that look together because we didn't want me sitting there in a button down with four of the most, you know, beautiful, well-dressed queens in the world at the table would have felt a little bit too schlubby. So instead, they put this really wonderful look together so that I could be kind of the you know, David Bowie from Labyrinth counterpart to the queens as we went on this sort of fantastical adventure.

Dungeons and Drag Queens
Photo by Kate Elliott

I saw on the Q and As that you have Adventuring Party Talkbacks. Can you tell me a little bit about what happens in those?

So, for people that are discovering this show for the first time that Dungeons and Drag Queens is their first introduction to Dimension 20, we do a talkback episode that premieres the day after episodes drop. So, every Wednesday a new episode of Dimension 20 drops, and then the following day on a Thursday, we'll have an adventuring party, which is where the cast gets to decompress, debrief, unload, and talk about the preceding episode the day before. So, we analyze character motivations, we talk about wild things that happen, we do bits, we joke, we riff and it's just a little chance to get to know the cast who are playing your beloved characters in the show.

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You seem to be very busy. What other projects are you working on right now?

We have recorded the most seasons of all, in the past six months, we have recorded a full core cast season and four side quests. That is, you know, some titanic number of episodes of the show. I'm also working on a podcast called Worlds Beyond Number, which is an actual play podcast that I make with Aabria Iyengar, Erika Ishii, and Lou Wilson, produced by Taylor Moore, over at Fortunate Horse. We're halfway through our first arc of that show right now as well. And I also perform live comedy shows in Los Angeles, perform BIGGER! with my wife, which is our comedy improv ensemble show, and I perform at the House of Gains with Lou Wilson in Los Angeles as well. So that's what I'm up to.

Are you planning on expanding this into another season with Dungeons and Drag Queens?

I will play as much D& D as these Drag Queens want to play. They were so incredible and amazing. I would love for us to come back to the world of Calvorda. The wonderful part about making an anthology show like Dimension 20 is you kind of get to do it all. We get to keep making core seasons. We get to keep playing with amazing performers that we've loved playing with in the past. So, I would not be surprised if we make a return to Calvorda.

Dungeons and Drag Queens
Photo by Kate Elliott

Check out new episodes of Dimension 20: Dungeons and Drag Queens Wednesdays on Dropout. Follow Brennan on Instagram, Twitter, and on his website.


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