Girls Just Wanna Get Laughs: SHE THE PEOPLE Premieres in Montreal at Just For Laughs
Back in the day, I waited patiently every week until Saturday night rolled around, and when it did, I had to be poised in front of the TV for 11:30 PM to hear those words "Live from New York-it's Saturday Night!" Along with years of watching Saturday Night Live, I was also obsessed with Canada's kookiest comedy team, Kids in the Hall. Even as a kid, there was classic Wayne and Shuster, the short-lived but hilarious Four on the Floor, and the silly and slimy You Can't Do That on Television. In all these sketch comedy shows of my youth, somehow it never occurred to me that many of these troupes were all-male and often times female performers played second fiddle to the guys. Fast forward to 2019 when Just for Laughs announced an all-female sketch comedy show was appearing at the July festival. Created and cultivated through Second City, the premier training ground for sketch comedy, She the People has traveled from Chicago to Toronto and next week it will be hitting the scene in Montreal.
Now don't be fooled into thinking this show is series of lame menstruation and boyfriend jokes. Touted as "by women, for everyone" by creator and director Carly Heffernan, She the People touches on the issues of today, without apology, and satirizes them to the point of hilarity. Audience can expect a series of unconventional vignettes, with some choreographed musical numbers, and just a touch of improv thrown in. In its previous incarnations, Heffernan described audiences all ages and genders having enjoyed this all-female production, going so far as to describe a bachelor party group having side-splitting reactions. Cast member Tricia Black described moments in the show as empowering and uplifting; at the same time her favourite scene was labelled as practically "Chris Farley-esque". Talk about going from the sublime to the ridiculous!
Not your average sketch show, She the People, "allows the audience to see themselves onstage in a comedic way while addressing current topics", claims Black. Tricia went on to say that the show's comedy has its poignant moments "because yes, you can be funny but you can bring the truth out too." In our modern times it can be hard to find the humour in harsh topics and even more challenging in an increasing woke society. To that Tricia responds, "With comedy what is so wonderful is that you can take a point of view or a topic and you can make it relatable to the audience." Without any spoilers she continued, "There is a sketch where the underlying theme is about a controversial topic but we do it in a way that we're talking about something else so it's a kind of a misdirect. Or we can take a serious topic and put funny characters on it, so we give it truth to it."
Whereas Montrealers typically only get to see sketch comedy onscreen via social media, streaming, or tuning in to the Comedy Network, here's an opportunity to see these theatrical antics live onstage, thanks to the folks at Just for Laughs. She the People features an ensemble cast of Ann Pornel, Ashley Comeau, Kirsten Rasmussen, Paloma Nunez, Tricia Black, and Karen Parker. She the People runs July 22 to 27 at the Centaur Theatre (453 Saint Francis-Xavier) in Old Montreal with tickets ranging from $47.50 to $49.50 (or probably less if you take advantage of JFL's package deals and promos.) For tickets and info go to www.hahaha.com. Note that running time is 100 minutes with a brief intermission and the show is rated R.