Comedy

Juno-winning comedian Sophie Buddle makes history but says comedy remains a male dominated field

“Whether because of a toxic environment or lack of friendships, women tended to quit comedy too soon.”

“Whether because of a toxic environment or lack of friendships, women tended to quit comedy too soon.”

(Photos by Leigh Righton)

Sophie Buddle is a standup comedian and a writer at 22 Minutes, who has performed at some of Canada's biggest festivals, hosts her own podcast, Obsessed with Sophie Buddle, and has recently released a comedy album, which garnered her a historical Juno win.

(Sophie Buddle's comedy album cover)

The name of her 2019 album is Lil bit of Buddle. And before your mind takes you to a connotation ("A Little Bit Alexis" from Schitt's Creek's episode "The Hospies"), Buddle explains that the title was chosen before the episode in question aired.

"It seems like I copied her but [musician/comedian] Reggie Watts actually gave me the name. … When I was preparing for my album, I was opening for him somewhere and I had a couple of ideas and he came up with Lil bit of Buddle, just 'cause it's catchy."

Making history at the Junos

This June, Buddle became the first woman to win a Juno Award for Comedy Album of the Year but remains humble about it. "There's not many opportunities, if you're in comedy, to get a trophy so that's pretty big for me. It doesn't necessarily mean my album is the best."

"It feels really good to be the first woman." 

I think this is a really good statement to women that you can win stuff because winning anything gives you confidence in whatever it is you're doing.​​​​​- Sophie Buddle

"So many of the comedians I look up to are women," says Buddle, referring specifically to Sarah Silverman and Ellen Degeneres.

She has come a long way from when she would watch Degeneres' videos on YouTube as a young girl and repeat them back, but the main person who ignited Buddle's love of comedy, she says, is her mom. 

"My mom is the one who took me to my first ever live standup show. She is who definitely encouraged me to start. Full credit to my mom. … It's nice to be able to give this [Juno win] to her."

Swimming in the male dominated waters of comedy

Things looked much different for women in comedy just 10 years ago, says Buddle: "I've been in a lot of comedy competitions and I always just kind of thought that girls don't win comedy competitions for a lot of reasons."

(Submitted by Jess Guinivan)

Both Buddle and boyfriend, fellow standup and 22 Minutes writer Mayce Galoni, started their careers 10 years ago at the age of 15, Buddle reflects, but they've had very different experiences.

"I didn't really feel embraced by my comedy community. Where [Galoni] felt [that] all male comics were like, 'It's so cool that this 15 year old is doing comedy!'"

This was before the #MeToo movement, she continues, when there weren't that many women in comedy, but only two or three female comics in the Ottawa scene, where she resided at the time. 

"I mean, it's still a male dominated field but it was a completely different ratio then. That was before a lot of people were identifying as feminists.

You can be a fan of exclusively female comedy now because there's enough out there," says Buddle, likening that to Netflix and YouTube where niche can also be successful as opposed to trying to make it in the traditional 'comedy clubs' way.

Whether because of a toxic environment or lack of friendships, women tended to quit comedy too soon — a lot faster than men.- Sophie Buddle

There used to be a lot more competitiveness between women in comedy then as well, she adds: "When you're put in a position where everyone wants one token girl on the lineup, you end up being competitive with the other girls because you want to be that one, and it's not a good way to be, it's not good for women."

"I mean, I've been doing comedy for 10 years, I've won a Juno and I still have a hard time getting headliner spots in a lot of places and I think it's because I'm a girl and because I am young."

Catch even more Sophie Buddle on the upcoming episode of CBC Radio's Laugh Out Loud.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Vanja Mutabdzija Jaksic is a producer, journalist and a perpetual optimist who loves a good show/film, breathes music, writes poetry, and dabbles in tech and innovative ways of storytelling (including through XR/VR/AR/MR). You can find her stories at cbc.ca/television and cbc.ca/comedy or follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @neptunes_blues.

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