The Future of Canadian Comedy

At work today, as I was trying to get some people jazzed about their impending participation in a daytime television studio audience, I saw four female comedy writers/improvisors walk through the halls of the CBC. They stopped briefly to chat, one having recognized me from an earlier improv event we had both attended.  (eee!)

She proceeded to inform me they were headed to a meeting upstairs.

…And for a second, I felt really great about the future of Canadian comedy on CBC.

0505beaver

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(Sidenote: I hope they remember this encounter if/when they get green-lit)

A Common Problem I See In Plays By Women Playwrights. It’s Not What You Think.

I thought this piece was interesting & maybe helpful to any of my fellow female funny-ladies who might be writing plays anytime soon.

Check it out:

A Common Problem I See In Plays By Women Playwrights. It’s Not What You Think..

Elementary, my dears

Well now, my trip on the Bipolar Express has finally come to an end and with it comes the end of my experience with the Conservatory and the beginning of a deep, dark valley of despair and the unknown.

Wow, that got dark quick.

I am, actually, a bit down about being finished with the Conservatory.  In the same way I was sortof down when I was finished Humber.  Because now I don’t have any pre-determined path to follow on a regular basis to achieve a certain goal, or conclusion.  It’s like I’m back at the beginning again.

Chris Martin gets it.

If you’re reading this, maybe you can comment on some tips and tricks you give yourself to stay motivated and to keep creative?  I know, in the Winter months especially, it can be particularly difficult to come home from your day job and feel like working on creative endeavours.  Most of the time lately, I’ve just felt like curling up in my blanket and watching a Sherlock marathon.  (How has it taken me this long to watch that show, seriously?)

On the plus side, I have gone out and done a couple stand-up sets now, so that’s starting up again.  I participated in a show this weekend, an open-mic strictly for ladies at Free Times Café (try their brisket poutine, you’ll plotz.)  Put on by none other than than the fabulous Chicka Boom hosts; Jess Beaulieu & Laura Bailey, the night proved performer after performer of solid, fierce material in one of the most supportive evenings I’ve seen.  Maybe you see a trend here? Catherine McCormick runs an LGBTQ/Women only room = super supportive.  Chicka Booms runs a ladies-only room = super supportive.  All other rooms = hurry the fuck up and finish what you’re saying so I can get on and do my 5 minutes because they’re better than yours, and I’m more important than you, AAAAAAAH ANGER, HATRED AND RAGE!!!

Ok, not true.  Not all other rooms, but these ones do tend to be incredibly supportive and positive.  Not the material; the material ranged from dark and tragic, to adorable cat-related tales and all throughout, making a few dirrrrty stops at one-night standsville and period-town along the way.  From relatable to extraordinary, it was just a damn good night of comic entertainment and I’m glad I spent the evening there instead of streaming the Grammys.

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On a different note, I got my first call-back EVER the other day.  So clearly my commercial acting career is taking off at incredibly fast speeds!  (SOC auditions are the BEST, amirite?)

Other than that, I intend to  keep plugging away.  I wish we could open this up as a discussion for other comics/performers making their way in the biz, so please share the posts & your own experiences.  Let’s get the conversation going!

In the meantime, I’m off to Netflix to watch my distant relative keep Cumberbatch in line.   I mean, I’m off to clean the dishes, Mom. 

Relatively Hardcore Girls & A Couple Dudes

 

I confess it was somewhat of a weird night at the Black Swan, where a friend/colleague  of mine just started what will hopefully be a successful regular half booked show/half open mic.  It was run by the wonderful Amber Harper-Young, who unfortunately had to absent herself mid-way.  Nevertheless, the show is called “Hardcore Girls” and it seems as though the premise is about getting mainly women (and some dudes) up to perform in an encouraging space where they feel comfortable enough to talk about what terrible human beings they are… um, in a good way.  In a funny way!  The show doubles as a fundraiser for “Because I Am A Girl” – a charitable organization set to empower women in Canada and around the world.

The audience  was composed of performers and maybe one or two of the performers’ partners/friends.  It was not a particularly receptive crowd – but it could be because they were so few in numbers.  OR the heat.  Yeah.  Let’s blame the heat.

I took the bullet, which I (and every other comic on earth) hate  – although it did lead me to realize that I need to try taking it more so I can get better at pumping up a crowd very early on in the night, because it’s a really tough thing to do.  Part of me feels responsible for the low energy of the room tonight.  Part of me blames the heat.

THAT being said, the chairs!  OMG, the Black Swan has some comfy ass chairs, which is highly unusual for a comedy venue, considering it seems the venue owners seem to want their clients to feel as uncomfortable physically as they do internally when they see a comedian bomb on stage.

It was nice to catch some performers I’d never seen before too.  It’s nice to broaden the social network.  Speaking of which, Erin Rodgers will be pleased to know that I did engage in an incredibly awkward conversation afterwards with the sound guy because I’d admitted to absolutely detesting the song he played when I was brought up on stage. (Seriously, KT Turnstall makes my stomach turn.  She’s awful. Fuck!! She’s bad.)   … I didn’t need to bring it up again after my set.  Why did I bring it up again?  Sometimes I just don’t know about myself.  It’s almost like anxiety medication permits you to say things you wouldn’t otherwise say – both in a good way AND in a terribly humiliating way.  And to Natalie Norman, who also performed tonight.  I hear you loud and clear about the chair sweat.

Here’s me wishing best of luck to Amber on her Hardcore Girls project!  I look forward to hitting the spot up again soon and hopefully the word will get out and more and more people will come check out this awesome show!

Don’t Blame Me, I’m Just a Girl – Reflections on WIFT’s “Women in Comedy” panel

For as much negative press Facebook, other social media and the Internet in general lately have been getting about “well, we’re basically spying on you”-type problems, as a budding comic, there really is no better tool to help keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on around town.

For example, the other day, a fellow-comic and the first person who ever paid me to do a set, posted an event on Facebook that caught my eye: Goodmans Presents: Women in Comedy a panel discussion presented by the not-for-profit organization for women in screen-based media; WIFT.

  • Sidenote:  The discussion was held at the head office of the National Film Board, which I thought was pretty dang neat.

Should I have taken photos of the panelists as well as the coolness of the NFB build-your-own-igloo display? Yes.  Did I?  No.  I’m dumb.  Maybe it was the complimentary wine, or the excitement of meeting female writers and filmmakers living out their dreams as artists and encouraging me to do the same, but for some reason, photography was not a priority.

Here’s what I think about some of the topics the panelists covered and how they are relevant on my end of the spectrum (starting out) all the way through to those who’ve made their living from it.  Like her:

Female Role Model

The Drop-Off Rate:

The drop-off rate of women in comedy is huge.  This was attributed to many factors identified in the panel – but mainly, other things getting in the way.  Some of the gals discussed such life events as marriage and having kids.  It seems fairly evident that if you’re a woman who wants to settle down and have a family, the life of a stand-up comedian, performing nightly in dingy bars, and eventually working your way up to touring the country and even the globe, doesn’t seem all that conducive to typical parenthood.

I feel there are probably some lady comics who quit because they feel they do not have a place within the thousands of rape, abortion and baby killing jokes you have to sit-through as an amateur.

The high-testosterone-charged environment also makes it tough as a lady, because you might have to deal with some not-so-well adjusted men behaving in such a way, speaking in such a way as to make things rather uncomfortable.  *CERTAINLY NOT ALL male comedians are like this. Most aren’t!  But the few who do tend to stand out and can make an environment rather uncomfortable for someone who just wants to get up and get some stage-time, not be propositioned, or judged according to looks, breast size, waist size, length of legs, length of skirt…you catch my drift. Hell, sometimes it only takes one creepster!

I guess what I’m trying to say in old fashiony terms is that these environments are sometimes (*insert old British man voice*) “No place for a young lady!”  But listen, we want to be there, so make room and stop fucking around, guys.  We’ve got shit to say too!

...and planes to fly!

The panelists touched on this a little when we discussed the success of Tina Fey and Melissa McMcCarthy.  Both very successful ladies owning the scene right now for their work on TV and film.  I won’t go into much detail about these women or the other famous and successful women the panelists identified as their “comedy idols” because everyone knows about how most of these people got to where they are as most of them have written, or are in the process of writing, bestselling autobiographies on the subject. So you can just read those, ok?

OK.

Another way to look at it, and one of the panelists did, is that there is often an unintentional exclusion among male and female comics because say, some men might not feel comfortable writing for women and vice versa.  Men want to talk about what they know: guy stuff and same with girls.  But there are a lot of girls out there who want to write both for men and women and basically cover the whole human condition.  It becomes difficult to navigate when these boundaries exist, especially when people aren’t aware they’re putting them up.

Sometimes women do it to each other too.  “Well, I cover the woman-quota for this troupe, so no more chicks allowed, k guys?” Girls are awesome at treating each other terribly out of whatever; competitiveness, jealousy, territoriality, you name it!  This is something I’ve studied in sociological setting, but women are often terrible to each other; worse to each other than they are with men, hands down.  It’s awful.  In a perfect world, we’d all work together and everything would be peachy, but as it stands: “Kim’s a total slut, and rumour has it she fucked Sally’s ex, so you probably don’t want to put her on tonight’s bill, do you? I’m manipulative!”

Your Art

There was a strong overall sentiment of “Do it yourself and for yourself” among the panelists, stating that in this business, women must “work twice as hard and complain half as much”

*JUST TO CLARIFY, RE: The amount of complaining in this blog… just ignore it guys, OK?   Can I get a job now?*

Here are a list of several tips to this regard I thought will be helpful for the budding lady comic:

  • Latch onto people who WANT to work;
  • Reach out to the community if you’re struggling.  Lots of the gals have gone through what you’re going through and will be glad to help lift your spirits and encourage you to get back to it (sometimes with the help of a couple delicious pints, while they’re at it.)
  • Comparison is the WORST kind of self-harm
  • Perform AS MUCH as you can (if you want to be a performer… if you want to be a writer, substitute PERFORM with WRITE, if you want to do both, don’t sleep.  Ever.)
  • Collaborate with like-minded people;
  • And don’t give up… because if you give up, the terrorists win.

Thanks to Sarah Hillier, Sharilyn Johnson, Catherine McCormick, Erin Rodgers and moderator Jocelyn Geddie for a truly inspirational evening. And to all the other wonderful and talented women I had the pleasure of meeting that evening.