Jade Catta-Preta and Billie Lee are big happy about their U.S. tour of queer comedians during Pride

An explosion of rainbows and sunshine take over comedy stages across the country in June every year for Pride, a whole month dedicated to celebrating LGBTQ+ self-expression filled with positivity and love for identifiers and allies alike.

Pride Month began in 1968 after the Stonewall riots, a pivotal moment for LGBTQ+ rights, but the real party started in 1999, when the month was recognized by the federal government as Gay and Lesbian Pride. Fast-forward to 2024, and Pride is celebrated around the globe, raising awareness with parades, parties, drag and, of course, comedy.

Enter: the Big Happy Tour.

The goal of L.A.-based comedians, podcasters and super-hustlers Jade Catta-Preta and Billie Lee was for the Big Happy Tour to “create an unforgettable experience through laughter and inclusivity, while uplifting and amplifying the voices of LGBTQ+ comedians.”

Lee, who is a trans activist, author of the upcoming book “Why Are You So Sensitive?” and sometimes appears on Bravo’s “Vanderpump Rules,” and actress, host and singer Catta-Preta, who identifies as pansexual, also learned many lessons along the road to lining up their first cross-country Pride tour. The comedic roster includes Chaunte Wayans, Joel Kim Booster, Nicky Paris, Mx Dahlia Belle, Mav Viola, Emma Willmann, Alex English, and Abe Farrelly.

On Friday, the Big Happy Tour will be officially born as America’s first national LGBTQ+ Pride Comedy Tour at the Bourbon Room in L.A. — traveling to 11 cities across the U.S.— and there really is no better way than to kick off Pride than having a night out filled with people that are, well, big happy.

How did you two come together on the idea of doing a national tour during Pride? It’s so much work in such a small window!

Jade Catta-Preta: It actually started when Billie went on the road with me for Vegas Pride. The show was at a busy club, but they didn’t advertise it as gay at all, so the audience barely reacted to anything. After the show, though, a few people came up to us and said things like, I’m not out yet, but seeing people like you talk about it makes me feel a little more comfortable, and a couple of people even cried. It was so cool to see them be so open and to get that type of reaction. I’m for all types of audiences, but how cool to have that familiarity where they can see themselves in the jokes. We started talking about a full gig, and then the tour just kind of came into fruition.

Billie Lee: I think there’s something really beautiful and powerful happening. A lot of people have ideas and say they want to do something, but it takes strong women like Jade and I to really make it happen. We’ve just been using all of our resources and constantly going and going with it.

Catta-Preta: We also have a booker, Claire Armstrong, who has helped us, and Billie has a great relationship with Out Magazine and the Advocate, so with them behind us, it’s been really good. We’re also working with OPositiv, who has been very involved, Pride.com and Equality California. We’re still looking too!

Lee: I’ve worked with Out Magazine before, and I mentioned that I wanted to do a tour, and they’ve been great. As an activist, I’m always trying to educate people, and I think with my comedy I get to educate people, but in a really funny way. Something that brings me the most joy is when a straight cisgender will come up to me after a show and be more comfortable with the trans experience because of my jokes. My intention as a comedian is to make everyone in the audience comfortable, including a straight cis man.

Catta-Preta: Mine is the opposite! I want to make everyone uncomfortable!

It’s crazy to think that even just five years ago, some people and places would be “less enthusiastic.”

Catta-Preta: Right? It’s cool to represent in a time where people don’t feel represented, even when they really should. It’s 2024! One of my biggest things is having guilt for not knowing myself earlier, even though I had every tool and every allowance. It took such a long time to find my voice of being this Brazilian Virginian dyke. To now know who I am, it means so much to represent that and to help younger comics, sort of, get there earlier. I really like helping people feel empowered.

Lee: I think it’s really powerful that this feels like just the beginning of something that we’re making that’s really special. I envision this getting bigger and becoming a show every year for Pride. It could even possibly become more of an experience where it’s a competition show, or somewhere we can make a platform for queer comics who want to be seen, but they just don’t have the means to get out of their small town or come to L.A. and get on the stage.

What’s the learning experience you’ll keep in mind next year when producing the Big Happy Tour Round 2 together?

Catta-Preta: I think we would start a little further back with aligning bigger names from their tour schedules. I think next year, we’ll get ahead of it a little earlier. We’re going to create a full network so when we go to different places, we’ll know a bunch of comics already. There are a lot of very organized Excel sheets going on between us. We’re also going to film the whole thing, so I think when people see the footage, they’re going to feel excited and hopefully reach out to us to be part of it.

Lee: Yeah, I think it’s so important to document it on film not just so we have proof, but also, it’s something we can shop around to production companies later because it’s going to be such a beautiful experience. We also have to make sure that we’re all safe. We’re in such a crazy climate right now, and although we’re literally putting ourselves out on the front lines, being of service and making people laugh, we have to consider our safety and make sure that we are secure through this experience. So, I think documenting that is really important. I’m just so proud of it all and how it came together.

The lineups are so great too, I feel like you’re both going to have so much fun with everyone, from the comics to the crowds.

Lee: It’s such a powerful thing, what comedy can do. How healing comedy can be. In the time that we’re in right now, when it’s so crazy, I think Americans need a bunch of fun gay people that are funny running around America and making people laugh. I think that’s the medicine we need right now. I want to make America gay again.

Catta-Preta: Yeah, we just want it to be like a one-of-a-kind experience where you get to see not only one comic that you paid for, but multiple people that are all different. We have literally every letter in the LGBTQ, so wear your brightest and most sassy look, bring yourself, and bring your dad.

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