All-female comedy lineup sold out two shows at Pour Boy

For Toronto-based stand up comedian Natalie Norman, co-host of the popular period discussion podcast The Crimson Wave, empowering women is just a perk that comes from doing what she loves—telling great jokes.

Last week, Ottawa comedy fans got the chance to see Norman ply her craft at Pour Boy. Hosted by fellow comedian Nour Hadidi, this show, dubbed “The Future is Female,” was put together by Norman in August 2016 and debuted in Toronto. For this recent Ottawa show, the lineup featured local talent Aggie Winsom, Kennedy Ryan, and Megan Honey.

The show was only supposed to run for one night on Jan. 12, but it was such a success that the group came back for an encore on Jan. 15, which sold out in an astounding 12 hours of being announced.

What made this show different wasn’t just the “no rape jokes” policy, or the feminist friendly and LGBTQ+ inclusive message, but the audience itself, which was made up predominantly of women, something that Norman hopes to see more of in the future.

“I think they’re audience members that comedy has forgotten about in so many ways, just like women,” she joked. “There are so many alternative people that do comedy, but, for so many reasons, don’t want to go into that club atmosphere whether it be the fear that a comic’s going to pick on them, or that they’re going to be assaulted.”

This is why Norman wants to encourage more female talent to show itself. For her, representation is everything.

“Comedy was never catered for women,” she said. “It was never for the woman’s gaze or what they perceive as funny … and I think that’s new in itself and there’s a lot of female comedians coming up now and you’re seeing that and it’s awesome.”

At Sunday’s show, each comedian had something unique to joke about. These zingers ranged  from a variety of topics including sex, mental illness, body positivity, race relations, and of course, crushing the patriarchy—all without bashing on each other, which Norman finds incredibly important.

“I’m tired of living in a community where it’s okay to shit on women, and I think it’s an interesting perspective when women aren’t the punchlines (because) you have to work harder,” she said.

“The whole ‘no rape jokes’ (policy) involves that whole world of ‘let’s flip the narrative.’ Like, we don’t have to punch down. We can have progressive, smart comedy, that’s so fucking funny without making people feel isolated or shitty.”

While the show received a great turnout and many laughs, Norman understands that being a woman in her field comes with its challenges, most of which come from a lack of understanding for the kind of work that she does.

“When we do something where it is an all female show, people get pissed when it sells out. They get upset because for the first time ever, another gender is being locked out of space and that’s not what the point of it is,” she said. “I don’t perceive it as taking space away from them. I think it’s a space for us that’s already opening.”

For Ottawa, this seems like a much needed break from the norm in the comedy scene. Norman plans on returning in a few months with an even better show, at a bigger venue.

“You guys are so excited. You want to see it, you go with us on this weird adventure … it’s just a wonderful city that’s warm and it wants to hear us.”

To learn more about Norman or Hadidi’s stand up comedy you can follow them on Twitter @stalkingnatalie and @nourhadidi.

You can also listen to Norman’s podcast here.