What inspires ‘Miss Behave Gameshow’ creator and star Amy Saunders?

Miss Behave in the wild
Photo: Miranda Alam / Special to the Weekly

The Miss Behave Gameshow, now playing in the Back Room at Bally’s (where you must see it; don’t sleep on this one), has traveled extensively to get here, slaying audiences in Melbourne, London, Edinburgh and beyond. It’s little wonder that its creator and star Amy Saunders—a fast-talking, hyperliterate, thoroughly entertaining performer who can win even the toughest audience through sheer personality—has a range of creative influences that spans continents. She shared a few of them with the Weekly.

What was the biggest influence on the creation of The Miss Behave Gameshow? I’ve got a couple. There’s a Radio 4 show that’s been running for over 40 years now, called I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue. It was put together by two ridiculous, silly, irreverent anarchists, and it is just a lampoon of everything. It’s silly, it doesn’t mean anything, it’s funny, it’s absurd.

And there was also a legendary, sadly now retired guy called Woody Bop Muddy. Woody Bop Muddy’s Record Graveyard was a late-night cabaret act that played for 30 years, I think. He’d come onstage with a record player, looking like a sort of anarchic idiot, and he would play records. If the audience liked the record, he’d save it and rub it on a picture of kittens. If the audience didn’t like it, he would nail it: He’d throw the record in the air and smash it with his golden hammer. … He was my favorite, favorite thing ever. I’ve watched him crash and burn. He has died on his ass in front of a bunch of middle-class people, and he is my absolute hero. …

[The Gameshow comes from] a want to celebrate trash. I mean, there’s f*cking gold in glitter. Gold in garbage, and we all know it. I wanted it to be accessible and non-exclusive.

How has bringing the show to Vegas changed it? The real adjustment here has been the wider audience you need to bring onboard, and also political events. I thought that once Trump came into office, once Brexit happened, it felt like we could really use a bit more kindness in general floating around …

We’re quite a lot for you to take onboard. I am gender-confusing. [My co-host] Tiffany is a gay boy who I’m calling a “she,” and that’s a lot for a wide audience to take onboard, so it’s like, “No judgment from us. We’re going to win you over. You’re going to be confused, but ultimately the message of ‘yay kindness’ will win you.”

What’s the weirdest thing about Vegas that you actually appreciate? That I’m normal here. This really is the only place in the world that has been designed purely for my sort of people to work here. Everything about this town is hospitality. I consider myself in hospitality; I don’t consider myself an artist, or a performer. I think I’m in hospitality. I facilitate other people’s good times. So does the cleaner, so does the croupier, so does the barman. And here, that’s what this entire city is comprised of.

I love the fact there is this saying, “It’s my Friday.” I love that so much, because I can say that to anyone working here, you know, and I’m normal. I’ve got the equivalent of a 9-to-5. That’s actually crazy.

Music plays a pretty large role in your show. What do you listen to at home? Political podcasts, actually, because f*ck me, the news moves so quickly. It’s about four to five hours of political analysis a day plus news, which isn’t music, but it is listening. And then I love classical music and old soul reggae, dancehall and hip-hop, so things that are in quite short supply in both my show and in this town. Working on it!

Are you reading anything cool right now? Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. Another book I absolutely adore, that I have just re-read recently, is The Pilo Family Circus [by Will Elliott]. And have you read Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch? Weirdly, a whole chunk of it is set in Vegas, in the houses that haven’t been finished being built. For anyone who lives here, it’s just so lovely, because it talks about a Vegas I’ve never heard referenced in anything other than that book, but now I’ve now seen it. And she nailed the description.

Where do you go locally to get recharged? My actual favorite thing to do in Vegas—and again, this sounds so naff, and it shows how little of a life I have—I so enjoy walking the stretch of Fremont Street, right up into the Fremont Street experience, and watching all the side hustles. It fuels me. I can just stand on the corner of Fremont Street experience and just watch, you know, “There’s that 60-year-old guy that’s doing the contortion act that’ll last three minutes,” and I just love it. It reminds me of every part of the city I always gravitate towards. It’s where the absolute scum, tourists and hustle exist. The baseline. Leicester Square has it, Times Square … Fremont Street is the best layout of it I’ve ever seen. It has the most exaggerations.

Which other local performers and artists do you like? Besides the Fremont Street contortionists? I really like Recycled Propaganda. What Heidi Morgan’s doing at the Nerd Bar [The Princess Wendy Late Night Tease Room] is great. Penn & Teller; Magic Mike; The Rat Pack Is Back … John Di Domenico’s Trump impression is brilliant. He puts in the work.

Though you know, the most reliable, solid job I think in Vegas for a performer is probably a drummer on Fremont Street.

They’re likely making better money than I am! And they can also almost rely on that. There are seven days a week where there is that volume of people. The Strip doesn’t have that. So I think some of those performers are, however gauche, however absolutely obscene, actually pretty innovative. The woman with the Trump mask and her tits out? Oh my God. What the f*ck did I just see?

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