When it comes to booking anything topical in comedy, the Just for Laughs comedy festival has got you covered. She The People couldn't be more topical at the moment. A sketch comedy show that was created at Toronto's Second City in 2017, this insightful show covers everything about women and beyond. Men; don't worry because She The People may be made by women, but it's performed for everyone. She The People has also recently received a Canadian Comedy Award for Best Live Ensemble. I had the chance to speak with director Carly Heffernan, who is also one of the writers of the show, and here's what went down:
This show has been a massive success in Chicago and Toronto. How thrilled are you to be bringing it to the Just for Laughs comedy festival?
We couldn't be more excited to come to Montreal. JFL is a rite of passage for Canadians, so many of us have scene our comedy heroes there. It really is an honor to be at JFL. The show originated in Chicago and then we did a small engagement in Washington, D.C., and then moved it to Toronto. It's been really fun, and especially in Washington; that was a city that was really craving a socio-political-satirical work from a female lens. It was awesome.
Being from Second City, is this show improvised at all?
There has to be improvisation. We have dedicated scenes that have to be improvised and that will be taking inspiration from the audience by either coming up on-stage or shouting ideas out loud. The audience is a big part of the show.
How did the idea for She The People come about?
I was directing my first main stage show at Toronto Second City and it featured a lot of female-centric material in it, with some really powerful players. The owner of Toronto Second City, Andrew Alexander saw this and I think he was feeling what was happening in the world on the cusp of the MeToo movement. This was a feeling of a female empowered movement and through all that he reached out to me to put together an all-female sketch review. I immediately accepted and started working with female writers in Chicago.
How do you feel about She The People being so topical and needed right now?
I love that, to be honest, and you're right that in 2019 we are feeling the need for female voices to be loud and proud. That is why this show is so important and has things you wouldn't put in a comedy show. We are talking about hard topics and finding the cathartic humour in them. It's a universal truth no matter what gender you are. She The People is so true and so beautiful.
The show's tagline is "Created by women, performed for everyone" - what have been the male reactions to the show?
The reaction is amazing. The amounts of audience members that talk to us after the show are often men. They usually tell us that they were scared coming in but in the end loved it. We're approaching everything with love and positivity, so there really is something for everyone in this show. The tagline really is the motto of the show.
Do you consider yourself a comedy writer?
That's a great question and I think my career has predominately been in comedy. When I moved to Toronto I acted for a few years and then I fell into Second City quite early. So my heart definitely lies in comedy.
Who are some of your influences?
Catherine O'Hara, Olivia Coleman, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge from Fleabag.
Have there been any celebrity sightings at She The People?
Oh, that's another great question; well when we were in Washington we had the mayor come out and a few senators. In Toronto we had Kiernan Shipka from Mad Men and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, she even came on-stage because she has an improv background. In Chicago we had Lala Kent from Vanderpump Rules and she had an incredible time; that was probably my favourite sighting, ha ha.
What is the ultimate goal with She The People?
The nightly goal is to have the audience feel inspired, hopeful for the future and to be loud, proud and heard. The big goal is to keep touring the show and to keep the message of empowerment and inspiration alive.
What can Montreal audiences expect?
Sometimes I call this show "a call to action that only the cool people are invited to". Obviously expect to laugh but expect to be moved.
She The People runs at the Centaur Theatre from July 22nd-27th. These shows will sell out, so buy your tickets now at hahaha.com. Get out and see this incredible show.
Gianni Fiasche lives and breathes all that is entertainment. Since a very young age he has been a film and music enthusiast. Gianni watches and reviews over 200 films a year, attends hundreds of concerts, and loves listening to old and new music. When he isn’t doing these activities, you’ll find him spending quality time with family and friends. You can follow him on Instagram as @snobreviews.