When Lindsay Dauphinee steps on stage, she knows the audience wants comedy that is smart, accessible and diverse.
This expectation is the culture of queer standup comedy.
“I just wanted something really gay,” she joked, when talking about the first show she put on with best friend Adam Myatt last year.
When 120 to 150 people showed up, they deemed it a success. Soon after, they started planning the next show.
Myatt said, as a gay comic, the audiences at queer shows are remarkably more positive than other kinds of shows.
“It’s the best feeling in the world,” he said.
Dauphinee and Myatt have been contributing to Halifax’s queer comedy scene for a year, and are celebrating with their Gay Ol’ Christmas Comedy Show next week. The show, held at The Seahorse Tavern, will feature a mix of new and experienced straight, queer and gay comedians.
The duo’s production name for their bimonthly shows is Adam and Lindsay Present. Each show is carefully curated with what they deem the right mix of comedians.
“People we work with have a little more understanding of the issues,” said Myatt. “They have a little more reverence towards the audience.”
Dauphinee feels there was a void in Halifax’s gay comedy scene previously. The Queer Acts Theatre Festival includes comedy, but is only once a year. Other similar shows are either one-off, or have gone “dormant,” she said.
Myatt said The Company House, a former venue on Gottingen Street, was a hub for queer events before it closed in 2017.
Myatt feels the need to support other queer comics in the community.
“If you love something, I want you to be really good at it,” he said. “There is nothing better than seeing a new comic crush it.”
Space for new talent
Stephanie Muise, who identifies as queer, is a year into standup. She performed for the first time at one of Myatt and Dauphinee’s events.
Muise’s jokes were based on true stories from her life, and the response was overwhelming.
“It was the sickest, most supportive crowd,” she said. “They were so happy to feel safe at a comedy show, and to see people on the stage that represented them.”
Previously Muise thought of comedy as a space she wasn’t comfortable in. Now, the laughter indicates a connection to a shared human experience. It leaves her feeling “a little bit less alone.”
Muise recently started hosting a biweekly radio show on CKDU showcasing queer and gender non-conforming artists. Being welcomed into the comedy scene helped her understand the need for more diverse voices on all platforms.
“Until things really are truly equal, especially for queer folks, non-binary folks and trans folks, we need to create these communities and support each other,” she said.
Myatt and Dauphinee make it a priority to book new queer and female comedians on the same show with more seasoned comics, like Megan McDowell.
A veteran Halifax comedian, McDowell is headlining the Gay Ol’ Christmas Comedy Show next week.
Twice voted Halifax’s Best Comedian in The Coast’s Best of Halifax Awards, McDowell said the response to queer-themed shows speaks for itself: “it is needed and appreciated.”
After 12 years on stage, McDowell said comedy still “attracts and celebrates white, cis male life,” which can turn other people off of comedy.
“When people in any marginalized group see an event specifically created to include them, and where they can share in the conversation or laughter in a relatable way, it’s a welcomed alternative,” said McDowell.
The Gay Ol’ Christmas Comedy Show kicks off at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 13 at The Seahorse Tavern.