International Women’s Day variety show draws large crowd

There were far more people than seats in Pressed Cafe on March 8, for SHElarious, a variety show in honour of International Women’s Day.

The all-female lineup consisted of speakers, musicians, a stand-up comic, and the improv group Birds of Prey.

The rest of the audience crowded around the bar and lined the walls, standing up for the two-hour show.

“We did not imagine in a million years we were going to be this packed,” host and Birds of Prey member Kristine Shadid told the crowd. “This is definitely a fire hazard.”

Algonquin professor Renée Filiatrault, who recently returned from a tour in Afghanistan, set the tone for the evening by speaking about her experience coming home from a warzone.

After telling an anecdote about getting a free drink at Starbucks for picking a fight with a woman yelling at the barista, Filiatrault paused.

“I guess I shouldn’t be talking about a catfight on International Women’s Day,” she said.

Filliatrault emphasized the number of choices women have in Canada, like ordering at Starbucks, compared to the few choices many women have internationally.

“I have a real soft spot for the cause of women abroad,” Filiatrault said.

Shortly after, Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (CRIAW) regional co-ordinator Sarah Baker took the mic to share a story.

All proceeds from SHElarious were donated to CRIAW, which calls itself the only women’s organization in Canada focused exclusively on supporting feminist research. CRIAW collected cash at the door in a pitcher on a pay what you can basis, with a suggested donation of $7.

The musicians who performed both garnered laughs from the audience. Allison Harris performed what she called a 90s medley, which transitioned quickly between hits by ‘NSync, the Backstreet Boys, and Britney Spears.

Pina Capuano began with several slow songs and then asked the audience to sing along for her last track, a cover of Phoebe’s “Smelly Cat” from the TV show Friends.

Stand-up comedian Amanda Elbeck began her routine before she arrived to the stage. Elbeck went back and forth between the two available microphones, clearly unable to choose. Once settled on one, she muttered, “So much choice . . . but I guess that’s what Women’s Day is about.”

Elbeck focused her routine on International Women’s Day by making jokes about how difficult it is to find lesbian porn actually made for lesbians.

“It’s all made for men,” she said. Elbeck theorized that lesbian porn is so aggressive because it’s an expression of a man’s frustration in being unable to understand the female body.

During intermission, much of the standing crowd shuffled around to find different places to lean, but most stayed for the last half of the show. That featured an improv from Birds of Prey.

“They’re blowing it out of the water,” University of Ottawa student Shea Karst said of the performers.

“I was walking down Gladstone and nothing is happening but this little place is jammed full,” Karst said.

Algonquin College student Jenna Boucher said she enjoyed the 90s medley the most of the performances.

“I think it’s important to recognize International Women’s Day,” Boucher said.