Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Reviews: (Toronto / Comedy) SheDot wrap-up - SheSktechProv, SheFresh, SheMom, SheStories, SheUnleashed


by Dena Jackson

I’ve always had a close relationship with my mother, but it wasn’t until watching this talented group of Mom Comics or “Momics” at the SheDot Festival that I fully understood what moms are thinking. From what I can tell, parenting has its funny moments and these moms found ways to share their views in very unique and hilarious ways. 

The show began with the host, Martha O’Neil (creator of SheDot) sharing her experiences as a Mom and onlooker on the subway that had the audience in stitches. Martha engaged with her audience in such a way that made us felt like she was our very own step-momic!

Martha was followed by Rachelle Elie who shared the joys of being able to say phrases like, “Don’t forget to wash your balls!” to her kids and the audience couldn’t get enough. Kate Conner discussed the joys of a sexless marriage and what it means to be an extrovert married to an introvert. Amy Sloan blew her audience away with stories of trading places with her teenagers and reflecting on days when she was so frustrated that she asked a police officer for a drink…while he stopped her roadside.

Sage Tyrtle shared a beautiful story of the man she met online who later became her husband and the father to her children. Lisa Brooke displayed a great onstage presence while telling us about her one child (that she knows about) and Ruby Nichols had us laughing hysterically when she impersonated her Pakistani mother and father’s accents. 

Finally, Zabrina Chevannes closed the show with some excellent commentary on the joys of breast feeding and how her home is the mating spot for the town cats. Her presence was once again unique and captivating, keeping audience members hanging onto her every word.

Martha closed the show with some final commentary and a big thanks to the festival attendees. Overall it was a fantastic show and I know which Momics I’ll be looking out for in the city and abroad.

by Cristina Markham


I’ll be honest with you. I was nervous about covering SheStories. Storytelling events and one-person shows are usually not my cup of tea. I usually prefer the fast-and-furious rhythms of a great stand-up set, and have found myself at 'true stories' events that have taken a turn for the awkward and self indulgent. I was worried SheStories would be another such evening.

Shitty attitude, right?

My hesitations, previous bad experiences, and silly preconceived ideas melted away as soon as the lovely Marsha Shandur, our host for the evening, took the stage. Shandur, who is no stranger to the live storytelling scene, has a wonderful warm vibe. The show – and we, the audience – were clearly in safe hands. She had a great 'awesome older sister' or 'coolest counselor at camp' thing going on, and the audience really seemed to connect with her.

Shandur shared a few stories of her own between perfumers, and introduced each of them with 'secret facts,' like “this next storyteller was once bitten by a tiger,”or "your next performer once turned down a date with Daniel Craig!” The performances ranged from your more typical 'one woman show' stories, to more laid back, informal stories – the kind that you share with a close friend on a long road trip. Those were my personal favourites – they felt like the backstory behind great jokes before they got whittled down to the perfect punch line.

Honourable mention to Rhiannon Archer, whose story of having a 'non-affair affair' raised insightful questions about honesty and fidelity (and also let us in on the secret that she’s a numerical mind reader), and to Rhonda Riche, whose story of an all-consuming high school crush brought everyone in the audience back to our awkward teenage days.

by Dena Jackson

It was the show of the SheDot Festival that sold out before all of the others: SheUnleashed. And what a show it was! It was filled with eroticism, risqué commentary and absurdity! This show was something for the books! Host Shannon Laverty got the show off to a roaring start and had the audience engaged right from the start with her witty presenting skills. Shannon had conversations flowing with the first and back row, ensuring laughter right across the packed-to-the-brim room!

The hilariously funny Amanda Day was our first comic of the night. Despite a recent hospital visit, Amanda came to knock our socks off with her stories about her choices between becoming a stripper and a comedian and why the audience shouldn’t shake her hand after the show. Amanda did a fantastic job captivating her audience and ensured that we were totally comfortable as she talked about blow jobs and dick pics in a clever and nonchalant way. 

Laura DiLabio followed with some great stories about dating short guys with mommy issues (she’s very nurturing) and continued with further insight on the difference between being submissive and being lazy. Candice Gregoris shared some great insights into having a gay schoolteacher and her frustration with Australian accents that had the audience roaring. Molly Sanchez joined us from the United States to tell us why we should “Fuck the Police” and Shannon Bruce followed with some great insight on push-up bras and her frustration with fetus pictures on Facebook. 

Carrie Gravenson shared some fantastic stories on calamari and condoms while Iris Benson hilariously discussed what it’s like to be 37 and still living with her parents. Leah Mansfield closed the show with great energy and shared the fact that she was once called a pretty Steve Buscemi; needless to say the audience was in stitches. Shannon returned to the stage to thank the audience and her fellow comics for sharing their stories in way that can be defined as nothing other than, SheUnleashed. 

She SketchProv, SheFresh
by Lauren Mitchell

Even though I only saw four shows total, I had a really great time at SheDot. It is very heartwarming to be able to spend a weekend going to see what felt like a million great shows, all of them stacked with only women. My god, what a dream. (Not that I don't love male comics, y'all are great, but variety is the spice of life, etc, etc). Not only that, but the festival was well organized (I forgot my pass one night and it was no problem. In fact, the wonderful woman working the door at Comedy Bar recognized me AND remembered my name. Shoutout to that delightful lady), shows started on time (this is crazy if you know anything about comedy shows), and the general atmosphere was super friendly, so much mingling after the show, friendly attentive audiences, pretty much everything you could ask for.
My last night at SheDot I went to two shows: SheSktechProv and SheFresh. SheSketchProv was first, and I was really looking forward to it, as I almost never see sketch or improv. By far, the highlight of the show were actually the hosts, Jess Beaulieu and Laura Bailey, who together, make up Chicka Boom (full disclosure, they run a great show at Free Times Cafe, one Saturday every month, that I have definitely preformed on). They were so energetic and hilarious; it was really fun to watch them. They did two lip sync competitions that had the very packed audience going nuts. It was the most fun. I would be remiss not to mention my two favourite acts of the night: the sketch duo 2 Weird Ladies and the improv troupe One Night Stand.
My final show of the whole festival, SheFresh, was a packed house and was the only show I saw during the whole festival in the cabaret room, which is the smallest of the two performance spaces in Comedy Bar. This definitely gave the show a real nice intimate feel, which seemed appropriate since it was the up-and-comer show. This was a fun show for me, as I personally know at least half the line-up and since it was the last show I saw, there was overlap in the comics that I was seeing; I love watching people re-work sets for different venues and audiences, so this was especially interesting. The show was hosted by Toronto local and favourite Rhiannon Archer and kicked off by one of my personal fav’s (and anti-thigh gap activist) Catherine McCormick. I also love me some Hoodo Hersei, and I had yet to catch one of her sets at SheDot, so it was great to see her get up and WERK.

The Toronto (and North American) comedy scene has so many ladies ripping it up, it was great to be able to see a bunch of them in one spot. I imagine this is far from the last we’ll see of SheDot, I’m stoked to see what 2015 brings. 

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