RuPaul’s Drag Race – the Queens Take on Sketch Comedy and Cher in Our Episode 4 Recap

Christine Fitzgerald 10 Min Read
10 Min Read
RuPaul's Drag Race Season 16
Screenshot via Twitter

Mama Ru is wasting no time in putting the RuPaul's Drag Race Season 16 queens to the test. They’ve already showcased their talents on the main stage, created from scratch runway kooks in the ball challenge and now, they are faced with what could possibly be their hardest challenge – making RuPaul laugh. Yes, it’s time for the comedy challenge.

As the episode opens, the queens return from the runway to see the shortest mirror message ever, courtesy of Hershii LiqCour Jete, who just scribbled “Whiplash.” Short and sweet. Geneva Karr felt like Mirage should have been in the bottom two instead of her, and Q is bummed she didn’t get top honors (but Nymphia Wind’s last look was truly stunning.) Plane Jane and Amanda Tori Meating bring up their Untucked discussion and while Jane apologizes for her “unsolicited feedback,” you know it’s on between these two, so let the shade continue (I can only hope these two stick around long enough for the reading challenge.)

Ru (in another fantastic suit) comes in and announces this week’s maxi challenge.  Live from Tuckahoe, its “RDR Live”! The queens need to tickle Ru’s funny bone by creating “breakout characters” and performing live without a net (or retakes.) The dolls have to choose their own roles and, unlike most challenges that are self-cast, there is little debate about who wants which part. The only small squabbles get resolved quickly. Amanda and Q want Dawn as part of their news update and not Plasma, who reluctantly agrees to join a Barbra Streisand-themed sketch. As far as hosting duties go, both Sapphira Cristal and Mirage begin gunning for the gig, but Sapphira quickly acquiesces and gives Mirage the part – and she immediately begins wondering why Sapphira gave up so quickly. Was it strategic?

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The sketch teams get together to begin working on their acts. Plasma is still upset she had to relinquish her role at the update anchor desk – even though a Barbra tribute is right in her wheelhouse. She tells her teammates (Nymphia and Sapphira) that she doesn’t want to poke fun at her idol and then shows off her encyclopedia knowledge of La Streisand (like a human Wikipedia, this one). Jane is working with Megami and says she’s glad she’s working with someone different from her style (but not Morphine, who originally wanted to work with her.) Poor Mirage is struggling because she has no one to bounce ideas off.

On Ru’s werk room walkthrough, he tells Myi’ha that she can’t be timid, and Geneva asserts she won’t have a problem memorizing her lines because she worked as a cashier. Um…okay. Plasma again reiterates that she doesn’t want to get pigeonholed as a mid-century tribute queen and  Ru suspects a little “hocus pocus” with the whole Mirage and Sapphira situation. Sapphira sensed Mirage was having second thoughts and said it’s not her problem. Ouch.

As the queens get ready for their performance, we learn that Mirage is Mexiacn-American and Apache and recently performed at her first indigenous pride, Xunami and Geneva are with us here on the show because of DACA and Amanda is on OnlyFans. Oh, she’s not a content creator, she’s a ghostwriter for some of the female models on the site.

On the main stage, Ru is pretty in pink (I love her gown) and guest judge Sarah Michelle Gellar also hasn’t aged a day (color me jealous). And now, it’s time for RDR Live. For the cold open, Xunami and Morphine do a drag parody of Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper’s New Years’ coverage but add an end of the world countdown. Mhi'ya Iman LePaige tries to amp the energy to play a reporter stuck in a biblical rainstorm but comes off a teeny bit one note…but hey, she is listening to notes.

Mirage as the host looks great but fares as well as pretty much every non-comedian SNL host. Her jokes are watered down roasts of her fellow queens. Looks like Sapphira played the game well.

Jane and Megami give us the commercial parody as slutty spokesmodels for Thick & Long Deck Service (get it?) Jane is really leaning into this bimbo character and maybe she should also start to ensure she’s not going to be typecast…just saying. Ross makes a cameo as satisfied customer “Richard Pig” (get it?) It’s an okay sketch, but still isn’t delivering the tee-hee-hees I would have expected.

Just like its inspiration, “RDR Live” has a musical guest and…guess who? It’s Mama Ru herswlf performing the country and western rocker “Lady Cowboy” from her Essentials Vol.3 album (available wherever you stream your music.) It’s actually the highlight of the challenge, so I guess Ru wins?

The Ru-ized “Weekend Update” features Amanda and Dawn making joke about current events – as well as something we haven’t heard in a while, a jab at Lady Bunny.  Q steals the show, serving the Stonewall brick. It was the best performance of an inanimate object since Bowen Yang’s iceberg on SNL.     

Lastly, Nymphia, Sapphira and Plasma are the “Barbra Shop Quartet” (and they make note that there are only three of them.) Of course, Plasma nails her part and Sapphira shows off her pipes impressively. The best part of this sketch is just hearing Nymphia try to sing like the diva. All in all, this show was about as funny as SNL has been lately, so there’s that.

The runway makes up for the challenge, as the queens give us their best interpretations of some of Cher’s most famous looks on the runway. No one did the iconic cover of Cher’s 1979 album Take Me Home (which I was obsessed with) but Xunami did give us another fabulous look from the same era as she served Bob Mackie glam with Cher’s look from the cover of The Prisoner. Morphine also delivered a solid recreation of Cher’s 1988 Academy Awards look. No notes here. Other standouts were Mirage channeling Cher’s live Vegas shows from the late 70s in another skin-baring, sequin-covered and feathered looks, Jane’s faithful dupe of her 1974 Met Gala look (more Mackie!) and Q, who dazzled in a black and white striped gown from the Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour era (that’s the 1970s for you kids out there.) Sapphira took a lot of creative license but also turned out a fierce look, donning a huge afro wig and elaborate cape with feathered shoulder pieces to take us to Cher’s Sin City residency from 2017. There weren’t many true misses on the runway this week – and Cher would be happy with these looks.

Our tops this week are Jane, Q and Plasma. I honestly thought this week’s winner was Q, but Ru thought Plasma made lemonade out of the typecasting lemon (and did serve a very 80s glam/goth Cher look) and gave her the “W.”  The bottom three were Mhi’ya, Mirage ad Geneva (again). Mhi’ya narrowly gets safe status – probably thanks to her hilarious, meme-worthy Cher “impersonation” (if Kermit the Frog and Cher had a kid, this was it) leaving Mirage and Geneva to battle it out in a lip sync to Cher’s classic “Dark Lady.” At the start, it looked like Mirage was going to easily take the victory until you realized she had no idea what the words were. To not know her lyrics is a cardinal sin in Ru’s book, right? Mirage is the queen to sashay away this week, which is unfortunate, as we didn’t get a chance to get to know her – and my heart broke when she left. I’m positive this isn’t the last we will see of her. Next week, it’s the girl group challenge and I can’t wait to see this one. See you then!



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