I remember my first Stand Up/Strip Down experience like it was yesterday. It was about seven years ago, back when I was dabbling in stand-up comedy. Every couple of months, I’d hear excited whispers that another edition of a hot show that mixed comedy and burlesque was being assembled. Once the date was announced, everyone would scramble like crazy to get tickets because it would sell out in a flash.
Imagine, then, my surprise and delight when the event creator and my personal comedy hero DeAnne Smith asked me to perform in one of the shows. I walked into the narrow cavern that is Theatre Sainte-Catherine with my mom on my arm (hey – a classy event needs a classy dame) having no idea what to expect. I took a seat in the crowd, the lights dimmed and the rest, as they say, is history. Hilarious, sarcastic history covered in glitter and feathers and sequins. The kind of beautiful, inclusive history that fills you with surprise and delight and is kick-ass enough to be featured in Just For Laughs. My mom still talks about it to this day. She will never be able to unravel the mystery of Miss Sugarpuss’ nipple tassel twirling – a phenomenon truly breathtaking to behold.
This Friday, DeAnne Smith returns from the big smoke (another Montreal gem lost to Toronto – sob) to host another edition of Stand-Up/Strip Down. I got a chance to chat with the whip-smart, utterly charming comedian about what she loves about the show and what she misses about Montreal. Oh, and about her dog Rudy’s nipples. Obviously.
Andrea Stanford (AS): What are you up to these days?
DeAnne Smith (DS): I’m living in Toronto, obsessed with my new rescue dog, Rudy, and doing comedy to keep us both fed and sheltered. After my recent solo shows at JFL42, I got to do audience warm up for The Beaverton, which is a special kind of amazing nightmare. It’s basically going out and keeping the audience entertained with jokes and giveaways and spritzing while there are breaks in shooting. I never know if I’m going to be out there for 45 seconds or 15 minutes, so it’s a great way to practice winging it and being in the moment. The show itself is fantastic; I feel lucky to get a sneak preview.
AS: You’ve said that Stand-Up/Strip Down is your fave show of all time. Why?
DS: Two words: Jokes. Boobs.
More words: I’ve been running the show at Theatre Sainte-Catherine for years now, and that venue, along with the combination of stand up comedy and burlesque makes for such a fun, anything-goes atmosphere. The crowd is always up for surprises, and I’m continually impressed by both what the comics and the burlesquers do. It’s so fun to host!
AS: What do you miss the most about Montreal? (You know I had to)
DS: I miss the architectural beauty of Montreal and the laid-back atmosphere. I miss riding my bike through the park and seeing spontaneous jam sessions at 2 a.m. I miss the graffiti, and the artistic quality that permeates the city. Montreal’s constant construction is a giant art installation meant to make us all question the nature of reality, right?
AS: Who has better boobs? Toronto or Montreal?
DS: Everyone knows Montreal is sexier than Toronto. That said, my girlfriend lives in Toronto, so…
AS: This show usually sells out – what do you think the appeal is?
DS:Jokes! Boobs! How many times do we have to go over this?
AS: What’s the most insane thing that’s ever happened at a Stand Up/Strip down?
DS: Oh man. So many wonderful things have happened. People still talk about Lise Vigneault’s burlesque piece, where she played a stuffy woman reading a book, slowly taking off items of clothing. She shushed the audience every time they were not completely silent. It was suspenseful, sexy, funny, and everyone was on the edge of their seats. We’ve had a contortionist begin the show naked, and then get dressed by picking clothing out of a suitcase, with her feet bent forward over her head. On the last show, comedian Bobby Knauff did a killer set of comedy, and then went into a fully rehearsed strip number that was hilarious, and a complete surprise to me and the audience. I could go on! Every show has at least one moment that reminds us all why live performance is so powerful.
AS: Will Rudy be there?
DS: Oh, I wish! She will be in Montreal with me, but she’s still a little too shy to have out at shows. It’s my goal to get her comfortable in that kind of setting though. Can you imagine eight tiny tassels on her nipples? I can. I’m imagining it right now.
So crawl out from under your Halloween hangover and get your tickets to Stand-Up/Strip down, happening this Friday, November 4th at Theatre Sainte- Catherine. Tranna Wintour, Emma Wilkie, and Nancy Webb rock the ha has while SU/SD super favorites Elle Diabloe, Lise Vigneault and Montreal stars Lulu Belles Mirettes and Maxine Segalowitz shake the ta tas.
This event is way inclusive of all genders, orientations, presentations, ages* (*adult-type ages) and underwear styles.Doors 9:30; Show 10:00 PM; $15. It’s highly recommended to get tickets in advance. You can do that HERE