The UofT Follies won't stop fighting - Paul Bellini - MyGaytoronto
The UofT Follies won't stop fighting 06 March 2018.
The UofT Follies are a sketch comedy troupe made up entirely of women.
Scratch that. "I'm non binary," says head writer Celeste. "We aren't so much all-female as just non-male. For us, there are no men in the troupe and it's a joy, a dream come true."
The Follies are definitely political. "I think a lot of our characters who are assholes are understood to be white," she says. The eight-member troupe finds inspiration in trans rights and other dialogues on social media. "I'm always angry on stage," she admits.
You'd think they would have their hands full just with Jordan Peterson jokes, but their mission is broader. They conduct workshops and give diverse people a platform on which to learn comedy. "We've definitely bombed before. We've taken on some niche subjects that the audience doesn't get. There were literally times the room was just not listening. As a student troupe we often get asked to do events that are not really shows. People aren't ready for a sketch where we just say 'ching chong' all the way through."
We are joined by Aba, a black woman who is also in the troupe. "It's such a constant thing for women and non-binary people to face oppression. Yes, the comedy world is racist. Definitely the audiences. I could just say the N word 20 times and audiences would howl."
"A lot of queer groups on campus are largely white and homogeneous which is what we're trying to avoid," states Celeste. "Other troupes don't focus on bringing a variety of voices to the stage. We're nice. Just not to men. But I don't think people leave feeling targeted. The action of our troupe is clear to everyone. We're political and diverse."
Hmmm. I was a member of the first wave of gay comedians in the early '90s. We took risks, and had the best intentions. I'm not sure about anyone who talks about inclusion and diversity but then restricts certain people. Then again, there were no women in The Kids in the Hall. That's because it would have robbed them of the opportunity to create female characters. Sometimes you have to set rules in order to try something new. Having not seen The UofT Follies live, who knows if I would be enraged or delighted by their work? In any event, I give the last word to Celeste.
"You can't fight everything," she admits, "but you also can't stop fighting."