(Her)larious

All women comedy night empowers comics

Empow(Her)ment is a woman-fuelled night of hilarity that will bring comics together in support of a more diversified scene in Winnipeg.

“We have a crazy lineup of talented chicks,” Chantel Marostica, comedian of seven years and producer of Empow(Her)ment, says. 

On Nov. 27, local women comedians and artisans will take over The Park Theatre.

“Dana Smith will be headlining for the first time and we’re over the moon to have Lara Rae (artistic director for Winnipeg Comedy Festival) joining the show,” Marostica says.

Expect to see everything from improv and stand-up, to sketch comedy. There will be performances by groups such as Outside Joke, BUCKO and Hot Thespian Action along with some fresh faces to stand-up including Anjali Sandhu, Cathi-Anne Cook and Jessica Seburn.

Seburn says she used to be a person in the crowd at The Park Theatre, and is now looking forward to sharing the stage with other female comedians.

“I want to walk off that stage feeling proud and with a heart full of gratitude for even having this opportunity,” Seburn says. “I hope the day after the show someone is washing their dishes or something and they suddenly remember one of my jokes and burst out laughing. And as lame as it sounds, we can create a ripple effect of joy and laughter.”

Empow(Her)ment started last April, when comics Marostica, Aisha Alfa and others made the move to Toronto, leaving gaps in the comic community, Marostica says.

“We left Winnipeg with just a handful of female comics, and it’s hard to get into stand-up, let alone keep going in it, when you’re one of the only ones,” Marostica says. “So Empow(HER)ment is my way of poking my head in and cheering on the women I love and respect so much.”

Marostica says spending time in a city like Toronto where she feels the comedy scene has a roughly equal representation of men and women, shows that Winnipeg’s scene, although supportive, has some room for improvement in this area. 

“There is a lot of headway to be made to make the scene more inviting to women, but this is a conversation that’s just begun happening,” Marostica says. 

“I think for a long time no one questioned the diversity of the scene, because there are very few women to start that narrative and keep it running. When there are so few of you it can be a bit lonely. Luckily the Winnipeg guys make some legit good friends.”

Marostica says that although men make up a large portion of the scene, local comedy should be inclusive and needs everyone’s support to succeed, no matter what the sex, orientation or colour of the audience or performer, just as long as everyone is represented and feels supported by their peers and community. 

“Female comics don’t need men to succeed in their careers, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want my dad, best friend or brother to be there,” Marostica says.

Erick Casselman, owner of The Park Theatre, has been working with Marostica on shows for the past few years, and this is the second Empow(Her)ment that they’ve put on together. 

“Empow(Her)ment is not only great for the scene, it’s necessary to even the playing field, and shine the spotlight on some great local talent that may feel like there is not a stage for them in Winnipeg,” Casselman says.

Empow(Her)ment creates a supportive environment for funny ladies to give it their all while showcasing a community that supports all.

Published in Volume 70, Number 12 of The Uniter (November 26, 2015)

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