Warning: partial spoiler alert!
Are you sick of watching the news and feeling angry? Have you had it up to here with sexual politics? Are you female, male, or anything in between? Then go see She The People at Just for Laughs, and laugh your guts out to keep from crying.
Performed, written, and directed by women, She The People effectively smashes the patriarchy while also poking fun at women’s foibles through a series of very funny sketches. The opening sketch certainly takes the words out of any woman’s mouth: a group of friends consoles a woman whose boyfriend has just broken up with her by text. “He has a beard instead of a personality!” quips one; “He starts every sentence with, ‘I’m not sexist but…’” says another. I won’t spoil the ending, but suffice it to say that the unbreakable bond of female friendship is the real topic here.
Most of the sketches cover equally familiar ground: the fear of turning into your mother (hilarious and ultimately extremely moving); women in commercials (how did that butterfly get in the shower? How do all my groceries fit in one unwrinkled paper bag with a baguette sticking out of it? Why am I shaving my legs next to a waterfall? You get the picture); and the self-care guru (“I care, you care, we all care, for self-care!”).
Some sketches, while extremely funny, are fuelled by the profoundly disturbing revelations of #metoo and its fallout. In one, a woman wakes up from a 10-year coma to discover that all of her favourite actors have been revealed as sexual predators. When she’s told that that old reality show host, Donald Trump, is president of the U.S.A., she asks to be put back in the coma.
Two sketches stand out as particularly grim and strikingly clever. In one, a woman’s desire to throw away her already microwaved Lean Cuisine lunch in order not to be late for a meeting becomes a thinly veiled metaphor for abortion. “Food begins at convection!” her colleague scolds her, and, “Soon everyone will be using the garbage as portion control!” In another, a woman trying to humanely put a spider outside panics and kills it when it tries to run away, evoking a horrific scene of domestic violence in the silliest way possible.
Without giving away any more jokes, I’ll just say that the show touches on all the sacred cows of the current climate: women being told to dress “appropriately”; non-Caucasian Canadians being asked where they’re from; the farce that passes for political leadership around the world; the lack of credence given to women’s reports of abuse; the stigma of being “Rubenesque” in a world obsessed with thinness; pay equity; career equity. But have no fear: unlike your Facebook feed or the 6pm news, this show will not leave you mired in misery, but rather optimistic that maybe, hopefully, one day, women will rule the world!