Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Jenn Hayward: A "Flawed" But Proud Feminist

Everyone has flaws, but comedian and author Jenn Hayward celebrated hers in her new 60-minute one-woman Fringe Fest comedy show called "Flawed." The potty-mouthed 43-year-old wife, mother of 3 adopted children, and feminist attended the first annual Flawed awards and won in categories for flawed mother, wife, and feminist to name a few. The feisty Metis/Ukranian woman from Saskatoon strolled down memory lane when she spoke about losing weight (she used to be 400 pounds and lost 210!) and overeating, pride, her children, gambling, and being turned on by Anne Murray music among other things. Hayward told the audience that she couldn't sing, act, or dance and aimed to make hers "the worst Fringe show ever." One of her flawed moments was when she danced for 3 minutes and 51 seconds despite not having "any formal training" and invited the audience to join her. They did so at the end of her show. She was bold and raw as she talked about having had a gambling problem, cheating on her husband Josh during their 20-year marriage (they're still married), and having had borderline personality disorder in the past. She said that she was now a capitalist and wanted to be rich, so she could afford shopping at Whole Foods and buying lattes at Starbucks. A nice surpise was her 14-year-old daughter being behind the scenes and helping choose her mom's sexy outfit for her dominatrix scene. Author of Jesus Loves a Crazy Horny Feminist, Hayward has now appeared at Fringe 3 times with her "Jesus Loves a Crazy Horny Feminist, "Can't Argue With Pussy," and "Flawed" shows. A talented comedian, she also has developed motivational workshops suitable for groups and corporations where she talks about using humour in the workplace, leadership and mental health issues, and work/life balance. I have seen Jenn live twice now and was fortunate enough to speak with her after her excellent performance and told her that she was an inspiration to me in my personal weight loss journey. She acknowledged it is "a hard process" and that she couldn't have done it or had the gastric bypass surgery without weight loss counselling. "What's my end goal? Not to die," she said. Having done comedy on-and-off for 15 to 20 years, she said she keeps her comedy fresh because she has adapted. "I've lost weight and had to change my act. My kids got older... I write as things happen."

Friday, June 15, 2018

Binge on Fringe - Ottawa's Fringe Fest Is 22 and Feisty As Ever

Ottawa's 22nd annual Fringe Festival kicked off in full force on Thursday, June 14th with this year's motto being "Binge on Fringe." With 56 shows playing at 10 different venues (e.g. Arts Courts, the University of Ottawa, and Live on Elgin) and featuring both emerging and established artists, it offers a smorgasbord of performances sure to appeal to patrons of the arts of all walks of life and backgrounds. So far, I have seen two performances: The Drunk Text last night (June 14th) and Clit Wit! A Feminist Rude Awakening tonight (June 15th). Both were fantastic and performed with gusto and passion. The Drunk Text was a new work labelled a musical, comedy, drama, and romantic comedy and ran 60 minutes at Academic Hall (133 Seraphin-Marion) at the University of Ottawa. Mathieu Charlebois, Nichole Perera, and Samantha Clarke created the show with Charlebois starring as Dylan. Dylan is a creative chap who is tired of the path set before him and abruptly leaves his family, life, job, and fiancee Melissa (Sarah Cousineau) in Ottawa to pursue his passions and artistic ambitions in the Big Apple. There he meets Nicole (Emily Asmar) who is a fellow artist and left Georgia to pursue her own artistic dream. But one drunk text brings Dylan's past back to him and thwarts his newly attained freedom. Enter Dylan's ex-fiancee Melissa (Cousineau had to learn the part in 4 days!) and her feisty Lush-employed friend Chaz (Morgan Coughlan). The singing was fabulous, and the acting was superb. After applying to the Fringe Festival lottery for a couple of years, Charlebois is ecstatic to be able to share his show with audiences. He has a BA in Music from Carleton University and has appeared in Ottawa shows, which include Amos in Chicago and Harry in Company. He released his Desert Song album in the fall, which is available on iTunes and Spotify. Tonight's performance (located at La Nouvelle Scene at 333 King Edward Avenue) was also a new work: a 60-minute one-woman show called Clit Wit! A Feminist Rude Awakening by Colette Kendall who made her stand up comedy debut just a few years ago. The 54-year-old housewife and mother of 3 who hails from Hamilton is a proud and "shoddy at best feminist" who combines comedy and storytelling (mature content) to talk about middle age, love at first sight, CCM bikes, kids, novelty t-shirts, and more. The Edmonton Sun calls the 3-time Canadian Comedy Award Nominated creator of The Cockwhisper... A Love Story "a masterful storyteller." Clad in a grey t-shirt that said, "The Future is Female," Kendall shared about how she had sometimes worried that a real feminist would come knocking at her door and say that she didn't deserve her vagina. She talks about living in crazy times and the absurdity of how Donald Trump, a self-proclaimed pussy grabber, was voted into office and has hijacked women's reproductive rights and threatened women's health and jobs and comedian Bill Cosby fell from grace as well as about how there are still not enough women in leadership roles, playing with Barbies can produce body image issues, and women should reject the lie that wearing certain clothing means they want sex and are asking for it. She spoke candidly about leaving an abusive relationship, having strong female role models in her family, and how before his death, her father apologized for treating her differently than her brother and said she had to be careful because "not all men like women." She didn't have a hate on for men but rather reminded her audience that more needs to be done in attaining true equality between the sexes. You can read more about Kendall and her comedy at www.colettekendall.com. If you love the arts and want to be entertained, check out the Ottawa Fringe Festival that runs from June 14 to 24. Help support local artists and put money back into the community. Fringe is a non-profit organization and an open-access festival that gives 100% of ticket sales back to the artists. It has returned over $2 million to independent artists since 1997. For more info, go to www.ottawafringe.com. I decided to support the Fringe both financially (I've paid for 2 shows so far) and time-wise this year by volunteering at Fringe and am excited to promote the arts, meet new people, and enjoy some free shows as well. It's a win-win situation. As a published writer and poet, I wholeheartedly believe that "an artist is never poor" (Babette's Feast). st