Black Sheep Comedy is run by two women who have survived their 20s and 30s pretty much intact. One of us has even navigated through her (gasp) 40s! We LOVE our new venture, Black Sheep Comedy, and we LOVE getting feedback from audience members. That said, many of the women will say things that we don’t love so much. For example, during a two-minute conversation, we hear some variation of: “I wish I had the nerve… Oh no, I couldn’t… Not at my age… No one wants to hear jokes from an old lady.”
Here’s the thing. Even if we are old (which we’re totally not), a lot people DO want to hear jokes from an old lady! Our audiences do not exclusively consist of 20 somethings, and neither do our lineups. Black Sheep Comedy is built on a foundation of diversity and inclusion, including age! So, over the next month, we’re publishing a series of guest articles from women who waited to get into comedy. Please join us as they cover topics such as their personal catalyst or experiences that drove them to comedy, tips for getting started, and other helpful advice…
From Andrea Dice Clay to Late Bloomer by Cathy Macpherson
I tried stand up in my early 20’s.
At the risk of dating myself, Andrew Dice Clay was the most popular comic at the time, and I attempted to entertain the masses as ANDREA Dice Clay. Now when I say “masses”, I mean that by the time I went up, the only people left in the room were the host of the open mic and the bartender. And when I say “entertain”, well… you can imagine how well a sexist female with a “strong” Brooklyn accent went over in 1989. It wasn’t good. I wasn’t good. I walked away wishing I knew how to connect with an audience. Wishing that people would listen to my life experiences. It hadn’t occurred to me that I didn’t really have many life experiences at that point – there’s only so much bad material about going to school and living at home.
I have always loved writing, and making people laugh, so there was always a calling to get back on stage, but I blinked, and life had moved on pretty quickly.
After a Journalism degree, a failed marriage (or two!), a career in insurance and having raised a child, my therapist said that I needed a creative outlet. I tried cooking, interior decorating, and becoming president of our company’s social committee – you know, all the stuff that women’s mid-life crises are made of (I even got a second cat!!). Still feeling unfulfilled, I realized that the common thread in all of that was making other people feel good. (Also, my ability to hide excruciating pain behind laughter is well-documented; my older brother would punch me in the arm to get me to cry when we were young, but I refused to give him the satisfaction and just started laughing, instead. [Didn’t hurt, anyway, GEOFF!])
Then, I saw that Second City here in Toronto taught Stand Up Comedy classes. I was 48 then, and thought, I’m too old to actually get up on stage, but at least I can sit in a room with funny people, and enjoy 3 hours of every week. The classes were really good (thank you, Judy Croon and Joel Buxton!) but the final class of Stand Up Level 1 was performing an actual 5-minute set on the John Candy Box stage, in front of a real audience. Naturally, I was terrified. I’m not sure how many people were there that night, but it was a number significantly higher than a host and a bartender, and I wanted to crawl out of my skin. Until….. I got that first laugh. That was it; I was hooked. Making an entire room full of people laugh that (mostly) don’t know me was like a drug. And they thought my life experiences were worth listening to. Who knew??
Do I wish that I just taken a breath after Andrea Dice Clay failed so miserably and gotten right back on that horse? Sure, but things didn’t work out that way. I’m grateful to the universe (but mostly my therapist) for getting me back up on stage, even now, because it brings me more joy than I can put into words (on a good night; there are plenty of words for the MANY nights that I’ve bombed). And, let’s face it; after two failed marriages, living with a teenager, and a career in Insurance, I think I can appreciate that joy now, more than I ever would have in my 20’s and 30’s.
Cathy Macpherson is an up-and-coming Toronto-based comic who broke onto the scene in 2017. She is a Second City Training Centre grad who co-produced the Comedy Nuggets show at Social Capital every month. Cathy is currently co-producing Black Sheep Comedy and booking & hosting the Cheap Laughs show in Oshawa every Thursday night. She brings her candid brand, imaginary boyfriend and “mesmerizing” faux strip show to stages from Oshawa to Oakville and to local clubs in between. A 2018 Comedy Brawl competitor and fierce finalist in both the Clash of the Comics and Etobicoke’s Top Comic search, Cathy has shown that this seasoned female can do it all.