By Matt Ouellet
The Centre for Women & Trans People ended DisOrientation week Friday with Shits n’ Giggles, a feminist stand-up comedy showcase, in the lobby of the Student Learning Centre (SLC).
At first sight, the SLC lobby doesn’t seem conducive for comedy, the lack of a raised stage, sunlight coming in through the windows. A completely open, non-intimate atmosphere made things difficult for comedians Chantel Marostica, Aisha Alfa and Robby Hoffman.
Despite the difficulties, all three comedians performed well. They managed to grab hold the attention of most of the audience. It would have been difficult not to pay attention to the event after when, in a joke about disgusting behaviours at the YMCA women’s change room, Marostica shouted into the microphone.
“Hey ladies! I’m washing my fucking vagina without making direct eye contact!”
Other topics in Marostica’s set included catcalling, her inability to tell men apart and her hometown of Winnipeg’s reputation as the most racist city in Canada.
It might seem like Marostica is a “social justice comedian,” but she would disagree. She considers herself a feminist who happens to do comedy, so feminism will be evident in everything she does.
“I guess I do material about being a gay woman, so in that I am speaking about gay rights I guess, but I am gay, so I’m just speaking about my life.”
Alfa, who spoke mostly about her experience as growing up black while surrounded by white people, ended with the story of how her Nigerian father and rural Manitoban mother met through their mutual inability to distinguish between people of their opposite race.
The evening concluded with Hoffman’s wry observations, which ran from the large amount of insensitivity of naming a children’s hospital Sick Kids, to the fact that American parents don’t seem to kiss their children’s booboos better.
In the past few months, comedians like Bill Maher, Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock have criticized universities as places where their comedy is seen as insensitive or politically incorrect. For Alfa, she said sensitivity isn’t the issue but the age of the audience.
“I think what people are talking about is college students are trying to assert their independent thoughts, so they have strong opinions about what’s funny and what’s not, and then as they get older, they think, ‘I don’t care, what’s funny is funny.’”
The importance of performing at university events for Alfa comes from the fact that comedy allows groups who disagree with each other to unite through laughter.
“If there’s different groups and they don’t agree with each other, it can be hard for them to communicate, but laughter helps everyone to communicate.”