There are few comedians in Winnipeg with as accomplished a career as Lara Rae.
She’s worked for more than 30 years as a performer and as a radio and television writer, with credits including Little Mosque on the Prairie and Russell Peters’ Monsoon House. In 2000, she co-founded the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, where she still serves as artistic director.
“It’s a really wonderful opportunity,” Rae says of the festival. “I don’t get to tour around as a stand-up very much. I see some of my old friends at Rumor’s. But every year I get to see 50 of my friends who I’ve known for the last 30 or 35 years. I’m very blessed in that regard.”
“I wouldn’t have survived otherwise,” she says. “I’m not a good working-for-other-people person. I have a lot of problems.”
Rae moved into her Wolseley-area home in July 2014, a year before coming out as a trans woman. She says that transitioning has changed the way she perceives her home.
“Everything in society is gendered,” Rae says. “You don’t realize it until you change your gender. One of the things that’s gendered is your apartment. Not just in terms of what you do to it, but what apartment you select. Had I transitioned first, I don’t know that I’d live here now.”
For example, she’d like a better bathroom for doing her makeup in.
Rae says that her experience of coming out to her current landlord was a very positive one.
“He’s a very progressive 78-year-old man,” she says. “He took me to Red Lobster for lunch one day. I told him, ‘I’m changing my gender.’ He said, ‘OK.’ That was it. Now when he calls, he calls me ‘Lara sir.’”
1) FIRST-EDITION BOOKS
“Any apartment I have is going to have thousands of books. I love collecting first editions. I tend to go through phases with particular authors. I used to have tons more.”
2) DINING ROOM
“This place is technically a two-bedroom apartment, but I converted this room into the dining room. I actually slept in here a couple times.”
“I love icons. But I’m a Quaker, and Quakers don’t have icons. But I don’t mind it. I actually love the art.”
4) BATHROOM SIGN
“Being Scottish, I thought this was kind of funny.”
5) FINNEGAN’S WAKE
“I’m teaching a class on Finnegan’s Wake at McNally Robinson so I have lots of James Joyce (books) laying around (the house). This is the version with all the 50,000 corrections that have been made over the years.”
6) ROTATING LIBRARY BOOK RACK
“I love the library. My great-uncle William Barclay was a very prominent New Testament professor at the University of Glasgow. He had a show on the BBC and was a very progressive Church of Scotland minister. His books sold in the millions. I remember going to his house as a child. In his study, instead of walls it appeared to be just books. I thought you could have a library in your house.”
Published in Volume 70, Number 21 of The Uniter (February 25, 2016)