Over the past two decades there has been a shift in the way female-led comedy is viewed.
Movie and television comediennes such as Melissa McCarthy, Amy Poehler, Amy Schumer, Tiffany Haddish, and Tracee Ellis Ross are a fair sampling of talented comics who have not only said women deserve a fair shot at making people laugh, they have overcome enormous obstacles and succeeded.
On a local level, one comedy group that refuses to be pigeon-holed in certain female roles is Girl Brain Sketch Comedy. The trio, composed of Alyson Dicey, Ellie Heath, and Caley Suliak, are breaking barriers with their wise-cracking quips. But mostly, their relatable sketches make people laugh, a much-needed antidote to present-day uncertainty.
At the heart of the threesome’s comedy is a collection of observational and situational humour lifted from everyday incidents. The trio highlights women’s issues from a modern perspective. Their next performance of absurd and funny scenarios takes place at the Arden Theatre’s Plaza Series on Thursday, Sept. 9.
“For us, we try to acknowledge the shared [pandemic] experience we all had without bringing the energy down. There’s a fine balance between acknowledging all we’ve been through, but keeping things light and funny and giving audiences a break,” said Heath, writer, improvisor, and musician.
Not only are these three comedic collaborators, they are also close friends who worked together in various projects refining their schtick. When Byron Martin launched Grindstone Theatre, he scouted shows that would appeal to a broad base.
“Byron was producing sketch comedy and he invited us. It was the perfect storm. We wanted to be on stage more. We had all these stories to tell, and as a friend he wanted us to perform,” Heath said.
She doesn’t remember the meat of their first one-hour show, but Heath recalls the finale was titled Take Me to Brunch, a parody of Irish singer-songwriter Hozier’s mega hit Take Me to Church.
“We had no idea what to expect. I remember walking out into the lobby and not knowing if people would give us an awkward ‘Good show.’ But the reception was incredible, and it was clear what we created had a life beyond one show.”
The realization the girl comedy group filled a void no one knew was empty was empowering.
“A lot of people started to look for the comedy we put out. We created a loyal fan base because people, not just women, enjoyed our brand of comedy.”
Girl Brain’s mission empowers women in their age range — their 30s — to overcome challenging situations through laughter. Fearless in rolling out the fun and games, they tackle anxiety, depression, first dates, love, Zoom calls, and food-delivery service.
Yes, food delivery became so popular during the height of COVID they couldn’t resist a slapstick send-up using a song. I Want Delivery, is skimmed from the Backstreet Boy’s signature anthem I Want It That Way.
Equal contributors to the group’s success, Dicey is a teacher who writes many of the sketches. Suliak maximizes her writer’s potential penning descriptive narratives, and Heath capitalizes on a music background to deliver song parodies.
Opening the evening is roots singer-songwriter Lindsey Walker, a recording artist known for her raw honesty, humour, and powerful vocals. In the past 10 years, she released two critically-acclaimed albums: Our Glory and This Desolate Bliss.
The outdoor Plaza Series takes place at St. Albert Place, 5 St. Anne Street at 7 p.m. Single tickets are $15. Premium tables are $120. Visit www.eventbrite.ca.
The City of St. Albert's health and safety regulations are aligned with those of Alberta Health Services. Social distancing is recommended and masks are mandatory in all indoor public spaces.