Arts & Entertainment » Comedy

Tuesday Thomas hits Rochester with sass and seriousness

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Tuesday Thomas. - PHOTO PROVIDED
  • PHOTO PROVIDED
  • Tuesday Thomas.
There was a time when if you walked into an alternative night club or bar in Rochester, you would see Tuesday Thomas.

That time was the late ’70s and ’80s, and the spaces were varying degrees of underground that included Jim’s, Liberty, Infinity, X, Idols, Mirage, Club Marcella, Muthers, and others. Back then, Thomas was both a performer and bartender, but today’s she’s a comedy headliner and actress based in Los Angeles, a regular at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood, and has appeared on MTV, VH1, “Botched” on E, and the BBC’s “World of Weird.”

She will again take the stage in Rochester on Wednesday night, when she headlines the "Queer AF Comedy" show.

Thomas also has a growing brand on TikTok, where she presents her segment “Ask Tranma,” in which she shares pearls of wisdom based on her experiences.

“The life expectancy for trans people is 35,” Thomas told CITY via phone interview. “I’m 60.”

Providing a guiding light is important to Thomas, who came out as a trans woman and transitioned in the late ’70s when, she said, “there wasn’t a road, there was no one to show you the way. You had to make your own trail.”



After moving from Rochester to the West Coast, Thomas got married, experienced abuse and stalking, and subsequently transformed her painful experiences into cathartic comedy. There’s a documentary on her life called “The Trash Goes Out on Tuesday.”

Despite all of the joking, Thomas’s work includes moments of sobering seriousness.

"I'm very real, I'm very like, this is me," she said. "And this is what I went through. And I can say it with laughter."

Her act tackles everything from the ins and outs of gender-affirming surgery to commentary on Dave Chappelle's transphobic turn.

And her 2020 short film “Catastrophe Anthem,” is a siren song in which Thomas urges viewers to seriously consider the state of the world and their own minds.

The self-styled “Momma Freak” also presents and produces "Freak Show!” Prior to its pandemic break, the traveling evening of stand-up comedy, drag, burlesque, and performance art played to sold-out crowds across the country for eight years, with regular shows at 16 cities and a Las Vegas residency.

With the onset of COVID and restrictions on gatherings, many places in the U.S. only allowed religious organizations to, well, congregate. So Thomas established her own 501(c)(3) religious organization, named it C.H.U.R.C.H@Freak Show (Comedy and Humor Uniting, Rehabilitating, Caring, and Healing), making it the only government-recognized religion that worships laughter, Thomas said.

Regardless of the show’s privileged status, practical concerns paused the show during the pandemic. Now back in action, Thomas uses “Freak Show!” to raise money in support of organizations that serve vulnerable LGBTQ+ and BIPOC youth in Southern California.

Thomas returns to Rochester to headline Wednesday night’s "Queer AF Comedy" show, a series presented by Amy Stephens of Rochester, who also co-hosts the Transformation Thursday podcast. The show will also feature comedians Cindy Zicari Arena and Todd Gursslin. Urban Euphoria, 35 South Washington St. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m. $15. eventbrite.com/o/amy-stephens-29234999439

Rebecca Rafferty is CITY's life editor. She can be reached at becca@rochester-citynews.com.