Mass Hysteria Comedy is presenting an all women comedy show to benefit the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre on April 20 at LIVE on Elgin. In anticipation of the event, Apt613 sat down with host Kennedy Ryan to chat about the show.
Apt613: Hi Kennedy. Thank you for taking the time to talk to Apt613. To start, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Kennedy Ryan: I am stand-up comedian in Ottawa. I have been doing it for about three years now. I also go to Algonquin College and work as a server part time. My hopes is to do standup as a career.
How did you get started in comedy?
I had just finished doing a play… I started in theater and always loved stand-up and it was the last thing I hadn’t done that I wanted to, but at the time, was afraid to do. So I thought I would do this thing that terrifies me, just one time, but I realised it was actually fun, more fun than anything else I’ve ever done. I immediately got bit by the bug and, although I started off slow, I’ve gradually progressed since then.
You are holding a show to benefit the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre. Can you tell us a little bit about the centre?
Well, I highly recommend anyone interested in helping out, volunteering, donating, or simply being informed on the centre to visit their website. My involvement with them is through these (comedy) events. I had approached them a while ago as I think it is a very important resource to have. Sexual assault and trauma is a very real issue, (although there are) some other avenues, I still feel this is an important resource to have. The crisis centre also has tools for education and is a great source for anyone looking to volunteer, or educate themselves about the realities of rape culture and how sexual assault is dealt with in our society. This resource needs to exist alongside the legal system and other things we already have in place.
How did you become involved with the centre?
I wanted to do an all female show because there are so many great female comedians in the city and it seemed like a fitting organization to work with. I approached them with my idea to raise awareness on the issue and suggested holding a comedy fundraiser and they were incredibly receptive to the idea. They were excited about idea, with volunteers looking forward to coming out to the show. They were really receptive to the idea and having their name attached to it.
As for comedy, there is a lot of talk about what kind of jokes you can make and what’s appropriate to talk about, what’s helpful and harmful in comedy, and what are you allowed to say. My personal opinion on that is that people are going to do what they are going to do and you can’t really change peoples’ minds like that, but what you can do is make your own stuff; meaning, if you’re not happy with the way people talk or if you’re not happy with the way people are doing things, then one thing you can do to chip away at it is to create your own stuff. You can try to create your own positive thing or talk about positive subjects.
Comedy seems to be at the forefront of hot button issues. Do you agree?
I try to create a space that is safe and welcoming to listen to. You know, sometimes people that are coming to see a comedy show can feel like they are in the dark. Meaning they don’t know what it will be like, what material will be covered or what jokes will be made and those jokes may be difficult to hear, or offend them, or be triggering. So they may leave actually feeling worse than they did when they got there.
A space that is welcoming and safe, no matter what your experience, coupled with comedy, would be a good thing.
So just the idea that you can take something that is not in most people’s reality, that the centre deals with regularly and create a comedy show (around it) that is just as fun of an event as any other comedy show you can go to is great. A space that is welcoming and safe, no matter what your experience, coupled with comedy, would be a good thing. I also feel like it’s always easier for people to come out to a charity event as an added bonus to an outing.
What was the motivation behind holding an all female comedy showcase to raise funds for the centre?
I just happen to have a handful of friends in the (comedy) scene who I think are incredibly funny comics and we’ve grown up a lot doing comedy together. Sometimes it just occurs by happenstance where you have an all male line up in comedy and no one blinks an eye, so I thought just do it the other way and no one will blink as well. Besides, I just wanted to showcase that there is all this great female talent in the city as well. As for me, I hope people come to the show and leave thinking: “there’s nothing different about a male or female stand up comic”.
Who are some of the comics performing on April 20th?
I’m excited to say that we have a guest opener, Shelina Merani. My sister (Kelsey Ryan) has come up from Toronto to close the show and in between them, Aggie Winsom, Laura McLean, Megan Honey and I will be performing. I’m very excited about this super funny lineup.
Aggie has a very unique view in her standup, Megan Honey is one of the most relatable comedians in the city, Laura is one of the most creative people I’ve ever met and my sister has also really honed her skills since moving down to Toronto to pursue her comedy career.
Shelina is really tearing it up in the comedy scene and brings a fresh take on things.
When is the event taking place and how can people get tickets or donate to the event?
The event is taking place on Thursday April 20 at LIVE on Elgin. We actually have two shows that evening for people who are looking for something to do early in the evening or those who would like to do something later one.
For the first show, doors open at 7:30pm, show starts at 8pm. For the second show, doors open at 9:30pm, show starts at 10pm.
Tickets for the benefit are $10 and can be purchased online from the LIVE on Elgin website.