Representation was at the heart of International Women’s Day Comedy Night, where numerous comedians who identify as women took the stage to tell jokes about their experiences as women of colour, members of the LGBTQ2S+ community, women with disabilities, immigrants and more.
The event, which took place Wednesday evening at the amphitheatre in the Student Learning Centre, was part of a weeklong list of events at Ryerson in celebration of International Women’s Day.
The first comedian of the night was Rebecca Reeds, a young woman who told jokes about the wage gap, health care and working for minimum wage.
She was followed by Courtney Gilmour, an award-winning Canadian comedian who has been featured on The Comedy Network, CBC, Just For Laughs and more. Gilmour, who was born without both hands and one leg, spoke honestly and openly about life as a multiple limb amputee.
“For a girl with no hands, I’m a big hand talker,” she said, as the small audience laughed.
After Gilmour’s set, numerous comedians from the troupe SHADE took the stage. According to an article from NOW magazine, SHADE defies the common narratives still present in the mainstream comedy scene by “centring and celebrating diverse performers while paying them for their time. The showcase also eschews racist, sexist, homophobic and transphobic humour still typical in the city’s comedy clubs.”
The host of SHADE, Anasimone George, was once an interior design student at Ryerson. Much of her set was about failing out of school and telling her Egyptian family of her desire to pursue comedy.
Another SHADE performer, whose stage name is Coko Galore (after Pussy Galore, a character in a James Bond novel and movie), spoke about moving to Canada as a child and having to learn a brand new culture and language.
“I’m celebrating 30 years in Canada — I’m finally passive aggressive,” she joked.
In an interview after the show, Gilmour spoke about the importance of events like this and the need to amplify different voices in comedy.
“It’s huge to have events like this,” she said. “[It’s important to] be able to joke around about it and hear people’s stories that they might not see reflected in television and movies. I think we’re getting better at that slowly, incrementally, but I think it’s really cool to be able to have a show where you have people with disabilities, people of colour, on the sexuality spectrum; it’s just amazing to have all of that consolidated in one show.”