By Emily Carrigan
Whether you are married, dating, or perpetually single there’s one thing we can all agree on: Valentine’s Day is a pointless holiday. It has the gift-giving stress of Christmas mixed with the gastrointestinal stress of Hallowe’en. Add in some of that shame for not being financially stable enough to show that special someone how you really care and you have February 14th.
So what is there to do? Boycott candy and chocolate till February 15th? Stay home in your pjs and eat pizza you found in your fridge but don’t remember buying?
Or head down to Whispers Pub in Westboro for a comedy show that will get your mind off the fact that the florist didn’t have the right flowers you wanted, because you forgot to call them in time.
Comedy Ottawa is producing a new comedy show titled Laugh Therapy, something we sun deprived, vitamin D deficient Canadians need in heaps. This pay-what-you-can performance is hosted by Comedy Ottawa’s own Tash Naved and special guest host Jennifer Whiteford. With five talented local comics to follow (Allie Duff, Simone Holder, Mike Bombay, Marwan Al Shafei, and Aiden Javed) it looks like a great night will be had by all looking to forgo traditional Valentine’s Day plans.
We asked Naved what to expect from the event.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Apt613: Why do you call it Laugh Therapy?
Tash Naved: I don’t have a doctor and I can’t afford therapy. I use other peoples’ laughter to self-medicate and I want everyone coming in to know to expect that.
Why did you set the date for Feb 14th? How does this event stack up against your traditional Valentine’s dinner?
Laugh Therapy happens once a month on a Friday. It just so happens that in February it’s on the 14th. My partner will be there helping me produce and this is, kind of, our date. We don’t pay attention to meaningless celebrations. Any reason under the confines of capitalism that allows us to spend time together is a cause for celebration. At our place every weekend is Valentine’s Day. This show is for anyone who finds that laughing live with other people makes them feel good.
Why is it PWYC?
I have been producing comedy for a while and after a few iterations I realized that I prefer listening to the laughs of the people who fall in the same socio-economic class as myself. My shows ranging from PWYC to $10 tend to bring those people in.
I know you host another comedy show called All You Can Laugh, why did you want to start a new series? What is this new series about?
All You Can Laugh is a showcase. New comics try their best prepared material. Seasoned comics try new stuff padded in between their better stuff. It is a safe, traditional format. With Laugh Therapy, I am forcing myself to experiment more without material: stepping outside my shell.
Folks outside of comedy might not know this, but Ottawa’s comedy scene is booming. By that I mean, there has been a spike in the number of people who have recently realized that stand up comedy is an accessible art form which they could try at no cost. Short sets are easy to get at the two clubs, or the many independent shows in town now, but what is difficult is to try your hand at hosting.
Enter Laugh Therapy, that I’m co-hosting with another act. The new format is under development (this will be the third show), is still co-hosted with ‘seasoned’ acts, but down the line the goal is to allow newer acts to host with me—lowering the barriers to entry for new hosts, making it less daunting while giving the audience a back-up host in case they totally hate one of us!
Another personal reason is that I’m sort of a recluse, lack some basic social skills and never stay out late after shows—so the format will allow me to get to know newer acts in an environment I find safe.
Meet the Comics
When asked why they were free to perform at a comedy show on Valentine’s Day, the comics had this to say:
Co-Host Jennifer Whiteford says, “I’m free on Valentine’s Day to do a comedy show because I’ve been married for ten years and have two children and my husband is smart enough to realize that it’s very romantic for him to stay home with our kids while I go out and do comedy. Making your partner happy through selfless acts is underrated.”
Allie Duff, a part time comedian from St. John’s NL says, “a guy on Tinder told me to describe myself in one sentence and I said, ‘Don’t tell me what to do.”’
Montreal-born Simone Holder is new to Ottawa and says, “In a nutshell, I suck at love. At first I was like, ‘oh maybe you shouldn’t request a spot on Valentine’s Day in case you’re with someone or you have a date…’ Then I was like , ‘who am I kidding’ and requested a spot.”
Three year veteran of the club and independent comedy scene, Mike Bombay says, “My religious beliefs say I should take my sweetheart to Boston Pizza on St. Valentine’s Day but I often drive by Whispers and wonder what it’s like in there. Are people talking at regular volume? This is my chance to finally find out.”
Aiden Javed a political science student from BC says, “I am free because I am a PhD student, and I joke about how that is the only relationship in my life right now, because it gives me space to do what I want to do, and is helping my personal growth, and I don’t have to worry about it ever leaving me. As a result, I don’t have to just dedicate one day to show how much I love it.”
Laugh Therapy is at Whispers Pub & Eatery (249 Richmond Rd) on Friday February 14, 2020. Doors open at 8:30pm with the show starting at 9:30pm. Space is limited so you’ll want to get there early, or if you’re worried of being turned away, grab a $5 ticket online to reserve your seat.