I like… no… I love Kate Davis right away. “Ohmygod!” she says to most of my questions. She says it fast, like it’s one word. And her inflection of the phrase! Sometimes it’s more like “ohmygod, how can you ask that?” and “ohmygod, I’m so glad you asked that!” and sometimes “ohmygod, because it’s just the best expression for every situation ever.” Yes, I can hear her smiling as she says it every time, completely comfortable in her skin and with her life. Kate Davis is comedy charisma and she’s coming to Montreal this weekend. I talked to Davis about how she got her start in comedy — 18 years ago! — and how the business has changed over time.
Davis says she first stepped on stage 18 years ago because she lived around the corner from a comedy club in Toronto. “After putting my kids to sleep, I walked in,” she says. “There was no youtube or Comedy Network to watch. I just walked in. I thought, ‘I need to do this,’ and I did.”
From there, she began performing two or three nights a week for a very brave five minutes at a time. “It made me a better mom, better wife, better sister, better friend,” she says. “It was a wonderful creative and social outlet.”
As her kids have witnessed her from the start of career, I ask if she practiced her routines on her kids, and she says, no. Did she take them to her shows. “No!” she says emphatically. Instead, their primary role (aside from just being her kids) was to supply her with material. “I’m listening and stealing jokes from my kids,” she says. I ask if any plan to follow in their mom’s footsteps. “No,” she laughs. “They’re absolutely not going to follow in my footsteps. My youngest’s idea of rebellion is science and math. I send her to an arts school and she hates it.”
When Davis started, the comedy world seemed smaller. “I had the occasional special on TV,” she says. Even thought it was a small community, “I’ve always loved it and everyone in it. The more the merrier. Everyone has their own story, their own past.”
She also notes that there weren’t that many female comedians. “There were maybe 10 women doing stand up,” she says. “And it wasn’t cool to be a mom at all.” But now, as Davis puts it, “There are so many rocking comics out there.” She mentions a list including Heidi Foss and Jess Solomon. “There are so many great comedians,” she says.
Because Davis didn’t grow up watching comedy, her influences come largely from the people she has worked with and seen performing. “I really stumbled into comedy,” she says. “I wasn’t like a huge fan who watched stand up. I had those albums everyone did, you know the one by the guy whose name I don’t want to name.” I can’t get her to name the name. Her biggest influences are other people who performed in Toronto while she was getting started. “There are so many,” she says. “Ron Josol and I started on the same day,” she says. “Kenny Robinson, Derek Edwards. All the local guys.”
Davis went to all their shows. “I would watch the headliners every weekend, whether I loved them or hated them. It was my way to learn.”
With 18 years experience, I am curious how Davis’ act has changed. “Well #1, I’m a way better writer and a more confident performer,” she says. “You get to your 40s and don’t give a shit. I can finally be myself. And well, my content has grown.”
She has some new things that she’ll be performing in Montreal. “Come and see how someone older deals with technology,” she says. She explains how she couldn’t direct people to the link for her webseries Best Before on Youtube. “I was trying to tell everyone where to find it,” she explains. “And, ohmygod, I don’t know how you find it.”
As for that webseries, it features Davis and Kelly Kempson, two women in their 40s who are at last kid free. “There’s a few at home, but they can feed themselves. It’s about finding ourselves with a good bra and a bottle of wine.”
What makes for a good bra? “Ohmygod, absolutely go with My Sister’s Secret bras if you’re packed like I am. And Dreamy Tree is under $20 and a delicious Californian.”
What sort of adventures do women who are kid free in their 40s have. “Ohmygod, it’s about finding your kid’s porn and having a talk with them and then your friend calling you out that you lied to them. It’s about finding your kid’s weed and smoking it and knowing they can’t ask you what happened to it. It’s about going to apply for a job and being told by the person who hires you that you have to apply online. What can you put on a resume after you’ve been out of the workforce for 20 years to raise kids? I wiped asses and drove people everywhere.”
“It’s at bestbefore.show,” she says. “I’m glad that you can end it with .show or .sexy now.”
I think you can see why I love Davis so much just from one phone call. Trust me, this was just the tiniest taste of how nonstop entertaining this lady is. Her real stories about taking some punches and not quitting just inspire you to be yourself not with woo-woo but with laughter.
Kate Davis performs at Comedyworks (1238 Bishop) on December 17 (8:30 p.m.), 18 and 19 (8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.). $15. Click here for tickets.