Equal Laughs For All

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When I started in comedy over six years ago, the scene was completely different from what it is now.  Especially if you were a woman.

In the first few years I started, there were only two that tried their hand at open mic comedy.  The first comic had done it a while, though while she was nice to look at and good to talk to, she didn’t have much success on stage.  Her material was hard to follow and she got no laughs during more than one of her sets.

Then there was another one who tried.  Tried being the key word.  Holy cow.  What a train wreck.  She got up on stage and proceeded to stay on stage for longer than five minutes.  She stayed on stage for close to 45 minutes, with next to nothing in the way of laughter.  Yes, I know who these two women were.  No, I will not use their names in this piece.  That isn’t my style, nor is it the point of this piece to do so.

I think improv was still going on with the Saskatoon Soaps when I started, but to the best of my knowledge that was the only comedy being done by women in the city.  Really though, who could blame them?  The person who “ran” the scene in Saskatoon when I started, and was the host most nights, didn’t do the greatest job in the world of being welcoming to women to join the local comedy scene.

He was racist, sexist, crude, vulgar and said on more than one occasion that women weren’t funny.  It’s good to see that in 2018, people with those kind of attitudes and behaviour are being kicked to the curb.  Sexist, macho and arrogant attitudes of the past have no place in today’s society at all.

By the way, there was this belief that the “torch” of running the local comedy scene was passed to the Williamson Brothers.  That’s incorrect.  There was never any torch to begin with.  Better people just stood up and wanted to make things better for everyone, and they have.

I’m not really considered part of the local comedy scene, so I can’t say exactly when it happened, but within the last year or two, women are taking the stage and getting equal results of their male counterparts.

The two best female comics in this city happen to be Jenny Ryan and Dakota Ray Hebert.  I’m proud to say that I know them both.  Whether or not they would admit to anyone that they are my friends, well that’s another story!

Jenny and Dakota are about as opposite as peanut butter and jam.  Wait, that would imply that the jam would mean one of them is blobby like in shape with a purple hue, while the other one would have to be smooth or crunchy.  Okay, that’s a bad analogy.

How about Jenny and Dakota are complete opposites on stage.  Both have done improv work in the city, but their comedic personas are quite different.  Jenny could be described as an alternative type of comedian, maybe more in tune with the hip Broadway crowd.  Dakota is about as blunt, edgy and self-deprecating as they come, and she’s rather loud.  I bet she’s a hoot to party with.  I wouldn’t know, because I’m not invited to the parties.

Now there are female only open mic shows in Saskatoon.  I’ve never seen one, because really, why would they let me in?  I hope that the female only shows are gaining support and that there are more female comedians waiting in the wings than just Jenny and Dakota.

The local comedy scene is different now.  It’s more inclusive now than ever before (except for me).  Women aren’t the subject of sexist and misogynist rhetoric to prevent them from taking the stage.  In fact, women are encouraged to try and take the stage.  There are more than enough laughs for all comedians to go around, providing you put in the work.

If you are a woman reading this, and you’re thinking about maybe trying stand-up comedy, I have one question for you.  What do you have to lose?  There is a supportive female comedy community in Saskatoon that’s waiting to embrace you and help guide you along the path to starting stand-up comedy.  Believe me, when you have nothing but male comedians coming up and talking about sex and weed, I don’t know about you, but I tend to tune them out rather quickly.  It’s refreshing to get a female point of view on stage.  I find the audience to be more attentive when a woman is on stage, because there aren’t that many around, and besides that, women deserve our respect and support in light of the many workplace harassment allegations that have come out over the past 12 months or so.

By the way, the only male comedian that can pull off dressing like a female and doing a great show on stage is Eddie Izzard.  If you want to see a real professional at work, check out his stuff.  If you can, find the clip where he’s dressed as a woman and does this bit about a cafeteria in the Death Star in the Star Wars movies.  It’s priceless!

I honestly don’t see what women have to be scared of in taking the stage.  It’s not as bad as it seems, especially when you get a few laughs that first time out, to help settle your nerves.

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