by Lauren Mitchell
Pride is always a great, albeit kind of insane time in Toronto, and this year is in no way the exception, as Toronto is the host of World Pride. When I got out of Wellesley subway station Friday evening, I am not really sure what I was expecting, but I did have to stop, look around and say “holy shit” to no one in particular. The village was PACKED, and with good reason, something was happening in every direction I managed to look in. This was pretty apt foreshadowing for what Bitch Salad, the brainchild of Andrew Johnston, was going to be like. The comedy show, which promotes Queer and female performers, started in 2007, and while it used to run more frequently, it does always come back for Pride. I showed up to Buddies in Bad Times just before 8pm, and there was a line down the street of people who had not even purchased tickets, and last I heard the show was sold out. People love the show, and with good reason, Johnston always puts forth a pretty stacked lineup (although I might argue too stacked, as the show clocked in at over three hours, a little long for my tastes). That being said, the main space at Buddies was packed, standing room only, and everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves through the whole show.
The crowd at the show had to be one of my favourite parts. Pride always brings out the casually fabulous in people, everyone was dressed (and drinking) like they were definitely going somewhere after the show, hell, the guy sitting next to me was wearing a shot glass necklace, so good vibes were in abundance.
The show started off with Andrew Johnston serving his classic high energy, pop-culture laden style of comedy, which featured lots of great visual cues, and was not shy about taking on our favourite Toronto politicians, Rob Ford and Olivia Chow. Andrew was a great host, and he kept the energy high for the whole night, my favourite bit of his was the chronology of “Pride theme songs” that he did in the middle of the show.
Three of my favourite Toronto comedians kicked off the show: Steph Tolev, Laura Di Labio, and Aisha Alfa all delivered high energy sets to a very warm crowd. Steph told one of my favourite jokes of hers about going to a nightclub with her sister, Laura very appropriately related to us the story of her coming out to her mother, and Aisha reminded us all that kids are smarter than we think, and one of them might have a fool proof plan to poop in your eye.
Right before the intermission, we got our first taste of Drew Droege, the very well-known character actor, who is perhaps most famous for his Chloe Sevigny ‘impersonation’ (I feel like it is less impersonation then a very delightful character study of sorts) and he told us a great story about the time he had to be Chloe for a whole night while working two different gigs and attending a party while trying not to get lost in LA.
After the intermission we were treated to a performance by Toronto favourites, The Cheeto Girls (one million points alone awarded for their name). They do great satirical send ups of popular songs and ended on a very inside Toronto Pride take on the Spice Girls classic, Spice Up Your Life. They were a crowd favourite and got a well-deserved standing ovation after their set.
Second to last, we had Katherine Ryan, a Canadian ex-pat who now lives in London, England, and is quite well known over there for her stand up, and her appearances on the bevy of panel shows they seem to love on the other side of the pond. She came out dressed like she was going to a Gay prom (and I mean, she sort of was) her dress was long, coral coloured and embellished with sparkly jewels around the bust – a teenage girl's dream outfit is what I am saying. Katherine is great and has a very catty but funny style of comedy, and really, I am a sucker for anyone who can get all the idiosyncrasies of the different regional British accents down, and she is a master.
Finally, finally (have I mentioned yet that the show was OVER THREE HOURS) we got our taste of Drew Droege as Chloe Sevigny to close out the show. Another crowd favourite, it was really fun to have heard him talk about this very famous character of his and then to see her come to life.
Bitch salad is a Toronto institution and if you missed it this year well, get your tickets early for next Pride and for the love of God, set aside a large chunk of time for what is a fun, high energy, and most of all funny show.