Women’s Comedy Night: The Sequel!

Our Women’s Comedy Night Fundraiser was so popular in 2016 that we decided to bring it back for another year! Some of Winnipeg’s funniest women take to the stage November 15th at the King’s Head Pub (120 King St).  Returning as host is fabulous comedian Dana Smith.

The night will feature a diverse line-up of local comedians at different levels of experience, from seasoned pros to emerging newcomers. Check them out!

Dana Smith.JPGDana Smith runs the very successful Women’s Open Mic Comedy show at Wee Johnny’s Irish Pub, which has been regularly featured in CBC’s Top 5 Things to Do in Winnipeg. It has also sparked a vibrant community of women who do stand-up comedy in Winnipeg. She has been featured in JFL Northwest (Vancouver), Oddblock Comedy Festival, and the Winnipeg Comedy Festival.

 

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Anjali Sandhu is a Winnipeg-based comedian, actor and writer. She performed stand-up at the SheDot Comedy Festival in Toronto as well as Sirius XM’s Next Top Comic and The Park Theatre’s Empow(her)ment. Anjali is currently working on her first solo stand-up show, I’m Not Taylor Swift.

 

 

Carole Cunningham headshot.jpgCarole Cunningham has been performing since 2015 and is a regular at Women’s Open Mic. Carole has performed in the Winnipeg Comedy Festival and has produced several shows, including Token 2016. A regular host at Crickets Comedy Club, Carole’s dry and observational humour addresses marriage, children, and navigating life as a woman over thirty-five.

 

danielle-kayahara-headshot.jpgDanielle Kayahara is a benevolent cat owner and relative newcomer to the Winnipeg comedy scene. Fuelled by equal parts anxiety and caffeine, she remains convinced that the former has nothing to do with the latte. Danielle is extremely excited to have the opportunity to bring her unique blend of storytelling and silliness to the stage in support of a worthy cause.

 

Florence SpenceFlorence Spence is a stand-up comedian from York Factory Cree Nation. Raised in both Winnipeg and the reserve, she has been able to translate the hardships of growing up with seven brothers, being a single parent of three and now a grandmother, into comedy gold. Her witty observations and captivating stage presence set Florence Spence up to be your next favorite comedian.

 

Heather Witherden - Headshot.jpgHeather Witherden is also known as “Winnipeg’s Favourite Wisecracking Mom”. From the north end of Main Street, Heather got married, had three kids, and started writing jokes in the baby book to amuse herself. She finally got onstage with her jokes in 2006 and had since appeared at Rumors Comedy Club, The Winnipeg Comedy Festival, CBC Radio’s Definitely Not the Opera, and So You Think You’re Funny.

 

Kate Schellenberg - Headshot (2).JPGKate Schellenberg is originally from the East Coast. She got tired of the mild winters, cheap lobster, and being near the ocean, so she packed her bags and headed to Manitoba. So far this year, she has appeared at the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, Oddblock Comedy Festival, and Rumors Comedy club where her honest and self-deprecating style made her a favorite with local crowds.

 

Lara Rae headshot.jpgLara Rae is a thirty-year veteran of stand-up. She is the A.D of the Winnipeg Comedy Festival and was the first trans woman to host the CBC national program, The Current. She lives in West Broadway with her two rats, Frida and Nina, named after two awesome role models.

 

 

2016 showed us that one show simply wasn’t enough, so we decided to double your chances of seeing some hilarious comedy! This year we’ll have an early show (doors at 5:30, show at 7PM) and a racier late-night performance (doors at 9, show at 9:30PM). Tickets are just $15 and available here. Get them before they’re gone and support a great cause!

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There’s Nowhere to Hide in Stand-Up Comedy

Associate Producer Angie St. Mars Profiles Her Stand-Up Colleagues

I understand why we fixate on the things we’re tired of – it’s because we want them to go away already. Amidst so many articles and discussions of women in comedy I hear the same thing. I’m not even going to say it. I’ll give you a hint: it’s something someone said in Vanity Fair nine years ago which still gets brought up in interviews as if someone more important said it yesterday.  I understand that we want to grind those stale notions out of existence, but when we constantly acknowledge those tired ideas, when we consistently give them centre stage, we can sometimes inadvertently contribute to their entrenchment and reproduction and what’s more, we are passing up the opportunity to talk about what we LOVE about women in comedy.  And there is a LOT to love. I had the pleasure of talking to two of the comedians who will be featured in the Women’s Comedy Night about what gets them jazzed about comedy, and let me tell you, it felt great.

I like that I can think about something no one is talking about, or that I wish people were talking about, and I can write something to say about it”, said Melanie Dahling, who has been doing stand-up comedy for six years. Dahling is a writer at The Uniter as well as an actor and sketch comic. “I spent a lot of time in my 20’s being defined by others based on what they see when they look at me. I love acting, but I struggled with that a lot when I was focused solely on it” said Dahling. “Comedy is exciting to me because I can choose who I want to be on stage and how I want to be seen.”

“Okay, I hate to give the really typical answer but it’s the rush you get when you hear them roar”, said Cathy Herbert,  sketch comic, and stand-up comedian who regularly mixes it up by using puppetry and music to tell jokes.

“I find it’s better than getting laughs from a play or improv or whatever because stand-up is my own previously conceived thoughts. It’s me, saying what I think, and people are then responding by getting it and agreeing that it is interesting.

I’ve only recently ventured into stand-up (thanks to the prodding of a few women on the scene) but I have to agree. It’s terrifying to me, I mean absolutely terrifying to share your private thoughts with a room full of strangers—and there’s nowhere to hide in stand-up comedy.  But when I share my truth with a crowd and they respond as if they get it I feel connected to the human race again. I feel like I’m not so alone in the universe. That is the reward for being bold, honest, and funny all at once. But can you achieve that every time? Goodness no.

“Of course this is also why I hate doing comedy”, Herbert continued. “When they don’t laugh, when they don’t agree, when they don’t ‘get it’, it can feel really isolating. And not isolating in the good way.”

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Cathy Herbert performing . Photo by April Plett.

Doing comedy can be empowering, yes, most definitely, but it can also be vexing, lonely, scary, and painful.

“Sometimes it’s frustrating to be a woman in comedy mainly because of the things women still feel they need to say”, said Dahling. “I don’t find it funny to be fixated on my weight, or hate men, or begrudgingly perform sex acts, but I see a lot of women assuming that this is what they have to offer. So I like going up there and having something else to talk about. I could cut those women down all I want but it’s much more positive to write what I do want to see.

I started doing stand-up for the same reason I started writing plays; it feels good to take an active role in the change you want to see.  For me, that is the most rewarding part.

“The other reason I love doing comedy is when you see joy on the audience’s faces, when you pull laughs out of them that they didn’t even know were there”, said Herbert. It feels good to know that I’m the reason that joy is happening…  But mostly the first thing I said.”

Catch Melanie Dahling and Cathy Herbert at the Women’s Comedy Night on November 16th at the Kings Head Pub. Doors open at 8pm and line-up starts at 8:30pm. Tickets are just $10 and the money raised goes to support Sarasvàti Productions season of theatre and workshops for artists. Call 204-586-2236 for tickets!

Comedy for a Good Cause

Who doesn’t need to have good laugh AND fasten a good deed under their belt now that we are approaching the holiday season at breakneck speed?? On November 16th at the King’s Head Pub (120 King Street) Sarasvàti Productions will launch a brand new fundraiser; one that highlights many of the women in Winnipeg’s comedy scene. To do this, we are joining forces with comedian Dana Smith, organizer and host of the monthly Women’s Comedy Open Mic.

“The Women’s Comedy Open Mic has been even more rewarding than I anticipated.”, said host and organizer Dana Smith. “Not only is it a space where women feel comfortable trying stand-up for the first time, seasoned comedians feel comfortable trying out material that’s out of their comfort zone.”

Over the past year the number of women doing stand-up comedy in Winnipeg has increased significantly, thanks in part to local initiatives like Dana Smith’s monthly Women’s Comedy Night and Melanie Dahling’s Comedy Workshop for Women. This year, Sarasvàti Productions sought to throw a fundraising event that would align with our mandate to foster social change and promote equity on Canadian stages by teaming up with Dana Smith to organize the Women’s Comedy Night.

The Women’s Comedy Night will entertain audiences with a diverse line-up of local funny women who range stylistically from classic stand-up, to alt comedy, to storytelling. Dana Smith will host the Women’s Comedy Night and the evening will feature an array of comedians, both seasoned and emerging. Check our our amazing line-up!

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Dana Smith runs the successful monthly Women’s Open Mic and is a member of the sketch group H.U.N.K.S. (5 STARS – Wpg Free Press). She has been featured in the Winnipeg Comedy Showcase, 2015-2016 Oddblock Comedy Fest, 2015-2016 Winnipeg Comedy Festival and the 2015 and 2016 IF Winnipeg Improv Festival.

130510mdhs0120Melanie Dahling has been on the Winnipeg comedy scene for six years. She has been featured in the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, Toronto’s SheDot Festival, Chantel Marostica’s EmpowHERment, and more. In addition to stand up she keeps busy writing for The Uniter and coming up with new projects. She is currently on post production for a short film produced with Winnipeg Film Group’s First Film Fund, writing sketch comedy, and researching a new show for the 2017 Fringe Festival.

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Florence Spence is a stand-up comedian from York Factory Cree Nation.  Raised in Winnipeg and on the reserve she has been able to transition the hardships of growing up with 7 brothers, being a single parent of 3 and now a grandmother into comedy gold. With almost no Aboriginal women comics to look up to, Florence has broken down barriers across Manitoba with her raw and real material. Her witty observations and captivating stage presence set Florence Spence up to be your next favorite comedian.

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Ashley Burdett has been doing improv for over 10 years and spent 5 glorious seasons with the improvised soap opera Soap Scum. She is very new to stand-up but has already appeared in the Oddblock Comedy Festival, The Winnipeg Comedy Festival and the Winnipeg Comedy Showcase. Her style has been described as “thoughtful, honest and wickedly silly.”

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A lifelong theatre geek and comedy nerd, Meghan Riley first performed stand-up in 2012’s “Winnipeg’s Funniest Person With a Day Job,” where she was a finalist. A few months later she had her second child and disappeared…In June of 2015, Meghan returned to the stand-up circuit… with a look of desperation,  a delightful soccer mom haircut, and stories to share! Since then, Meghan is a regular at the open mics and has been featured in the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, the EmpowHERment 3 showcase, and the Token diversity showcase.

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Cathy Herbert is a writer from Winnipeg and is currently an unwilling slave of humanity’s corporate overlords. She spends most of her time pondering a peaceful solution to this problem and has so far come up with nothing.

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Hailing from the North End of Winnipeg, Jessica Seburn ventured into stand-up comedy a year ago after facing personal tragedy. A newcomer to the performing arts; she quickly found her comedic voice. Jessica was featured in the EmpowHERment Show, The Winnipeg Comedy Showcase, Winnipeg Comedy Festival and most recently featured in Oddblock 2016. She recently produced the local show: “The Naked Truth, Comedy Truth or Dare.” Jessica wants to remind everyone that life is meaningless and bleak but hey, that’s comedy.

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Autumn Crossman-Serb is a Muslim illustrator/comic artist who was born and raised in Winnipeg. Her passions are monster girls, scifi/fantasy, and romantic comedies. Stand-up is a new addition to her backlog of weird skills but still employs her love telling a story.

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Frances Koncan is an Anishinaabe writer, director, and apparently stand-up comedian from Couchiching First Nation! Once the Principal French Horn in the National Youth Band of Canada, she peaked at a young age and has been desperate to achieve the success of her youth ever since. And now here we all are…

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Angie St. Mars is the Associate Producer at Sarasvàti Productions and this is how she got this gig. She spends most of her time writing for the stage. Recently, she has been doing make-em-ups with Winnipeg-based sketch comedy groups Free Snacks and President Bear. She has been featured in the Winnipeg Improv Festival’s Sketch Ensemble Show, Token Diverse Comedy Showcase, and the Women’s Comedy Open Mic Winnipeg Comedy Fest Edition.

The Women’s Comedy Night will take place at the Kings Head Pub (120 King Street) on Wednesday, November 16th. Doors open at 8pm with the show starting at 8:30pm. The evening will include a 50/50 and a door prize including tickets to our next production and a package from Amsterdam Tea Room. Tickets are just $10 and you can get yours in advance to ensure a seat by calling 204-586-2236! If there are still tickets left, you can also get them at the door the night of the event.