SLUT TALK at Yuk Yuk’s raises money for SlutWalk Ottawa, OCTEVAW

To many people, the word “slut” is seen as a negative term that is often used to insult to a woman for the way she dresses or decides to express her sexuality. But to the sold-out crowd of comedians and comedy lovers at Yuk Yuk’s Ottawa on Sept. 20, it meant something completely different.

The first-ever SLUT TALK took place two days after the annual SlutWalk Ottawa march, and brought together a group of female stand-up and improv comics to benefit SlutWalk Ottawa and the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women (OCTEVAW), a local coalition of organizations dedicated to ending violence against women.

The show was put together by this year’s SlutWalk Ottawa organizer Kate Forman, as well as one of the booking agents who works with Yuk Yuk’s Ottawa, Karen MacDonald. MacDonald had been wanting to put on an all-female comedy show for a while, and when one of her co-workers introduced her to Forman, who had been looking for a way to raise money for SlutWalk Ottawa, it was a perfect match.

“We were interested in doing an all-women’s show and finding a cause to do it, and (a Yuk Yuk’s employee) Mitch suggested SlutWalk, which was the greatest idea actually, because we all are firmly onboard with that movement, so we did that … it was a pretty easy decision,” says MacDonald.

MacDonald then put out a call in a Facebook group for female comedians, and had women from all over Ontario reply to her asking to be part of the show. Toronto-based comedian Kelsey Ryan hosted the event, and comedians with a variety of different backgrounds and levels of experience told jokes about everything from period sex to street harassment to abortion.

Kayla Spag, the former organizer of SlutWalk Ottawa, was one of the featured comedians of the night, performing stand up for the first time. Spag joked about her experiences learning about rape culture for the first time, and the ridiculous things women do to keep themselves safe, such as sticking keys in between their fingers while walking home at night—or, as she calls it, “the wolverine.”

MacDonald noted that Spag’s performance was one of the highlights of her night, the other being how the show “basically sold itself” and its overall success, raising over $1,000 for SlutWalk Ottawa and OCTEVAW.

“This (event) just organically grew. I didn’t have to force any of my friends to come or anything like that,” says MacDonald. “The people just wanted to come see the show and support not only Kate and SlutWalk and the movement, but also women in comedy as well.”

The sold-out show may have been the first of its kind, but MacDonald says she doesn’t think it will be its last.

“And definitely, I would do SLUT TALK again,” says MacDonald. “I think that, given that this one was a success, we should have very little trouble attracting even more performers who want to participate in different acts. It can only get bigger and better, I think.”