Last Night, the Garrison in Toronto played host to the Humourless Feminist Comedy Night. Billed as a night to enjoy non-derogatory comedy, without rape jokes, or the “isms” that so often surround the stand-up scene. The cover was a suggested donation of $10 dollars, with all proceeds going to TRCC (Toronto Rape Crisis Center) and MWAR (Multicultural Women Against Rape.) Despite the massive snow storm bearing down on the city, it was an energetic and happy crowd that gathered.
Walking in, I was greeted by Jeff Perera smiling, and the immediate feeling was one of openness, and felt very welcoming. Not knowing many people, I found myself gravitating towards the wall benches, where I could watch the crowd and the performers. From my vantage point it was clear I was still an outsider in this close nit, yet amazingly diverse community.
As more and more people filtered in, groups grew, and everyone mingled, chatted, and hugged. Acquiescences were renewed, and it almost seemed like a boon to the crowd when the show was delayed 20 minutes for the weather.
The show was well worth the twenty minute wait to get started. Natalie Norman took the stage after a brief introduction from Colleen (one of the organizers of SlutWalk Toronto), and started the night off perfectly, while sharing some fun stories about her own life, without the need to come out swinging at others. She was to be the MC for the entire night, and provided pleasant interludes from the other comics. Her own style fitting perfectly to blend the show into a cohesive work, despite the vastly different styles of the other Comics.
The first person to take the stage was Derryl Orr, a master of self comedy. He managed to kick the night off with some great pacing, between his witty, and intelligent one-liners, and some longer story-based comedy.
Over the course of the evening, 10 comics took to the stage. Most of them were bang on, getting a great response from the crowd as joke after joke hit home. Yet, I was surprised was the number of body image jokes that appeared in all the acts. This wasn’t all bad but the ones that fell short seemed both forced and more mean-spirited. Well I’m a guy who appreciates a good dick joke, the plethora of penile pontifications seemed a detraction from the overall night. At the same time some of the comics seemed intent to focus on the feminine to the point I felt almost mansplain–y. IE- the explanations of why women shouldn’t get implants, or how their soul is anti cum on face. The “dirty girl brain might be into it, but the soul knows it’s wrong” left me wondering if that particular comic got the same memo about the purpose of the night.
Luckily, these lows were far overcome by the tremendous performances by Catherine McCormack, and Amanda Brooke Perrin.
I can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed both their performances. In a night of great stand-up, they were clearly the stand-outs. Amanda was up in the first half, and her quirky, everyday style of speech made her jokes easily relatable, and painted clear pictures that even those of us who didn’t share the experience found easy to imagine. Her set was full of constant laughs, topical content, and interesting witticisms.
Still the largest laughs of the night clearly went to Catherine McCormick. Coming out of a “break” from comedy, her set was raunchy and hilarious. The opening was pointed, and intelligent social commentary on the big “-isms” faced by society, especially the world of comics, without attacking anyone, but her goal was achieved through humour far better than the ad hominem attacks preferred by so many inferior minds.
Her jokes and personality stole the show. And completely changed the way an entire group of people will now look at quinoa.
A positive buzz filled the air as the night slowly wrapped up, and when Christina Walkinchaw finished up her headlining set, the rep from the TRCC took the stage, doing a great job explaining what they did, why it matter, and even getting a few great jokes in.
After, many people stayed and milled about for a bit, chatting, and continuing the communal atmosphere. The general buzz was positive, and everything I heard was discussions not only one who was a personal favourite of the night, but also on the topics addressed.
Good comedy makes you laugh. Great comedy makes you think… and this was definitely a night of great comedy.