Montreal's first fully accessible stand-up comedy show takes the stage
Comedy for a Cause is designed for people with hearing, sight or mobility issues
When Abby Stonehouse talks about creating an accessible comedy event, she means accessible for everyone.
As program coordinator for the Montreal non-profit Communicaid for Hearing Impaired Persons (CHIP), Stonehouse decided to bring her love of comedy to an audience which might otherwise be unable to enjoy it.
Enter Comedy for a Cause, a charity stand-up show that will be closed captioned and ASL-interpreted, in a wheelchair-accessible venue and with sighted guides to help seat attendees with visual impairments.
The performance's audio feed will also be broadcast directly into hearing aids of people in the audience, filtering out background noise.
Stonehouse, who has moderate hearing loss, has been doing stand up comedy for the last two years, and has been wearing a hearing aid since 2015.
"I absolutely love stand up comedy," she told CBC's Homerun.
She said it seemed like a natural fit to hold a comedy fundraiser designed for people with hearing, visual or mobility issues.
She said the aim is to "help them enjoy and laugh together," — hopefully at her jokes, since she'll be performing as one of the opening acts.
Stonehouse said her reduced hearing doesn't pose a problem when she performs.
"When I'm onstage, I don't feel like I have any barriers because I'm on the only one talking," she joked. "I'm still able to hear if I'm bombing or not."
It was important for organizers from CHIP and the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association that the event reach beyond their community and provide a space where anyone could come and participate.
Stonehouse said this is the first time, to her knowledge, that an event like this has been held in Montreal.
Along with the homegrown opening acts, award-winning stand-up comedian DJ Demers will headline.
All proceeds from the event go toward funding CHIP scholarships and grants for people who need additional support like transcription services and replacement hearings aids, among other things.
Comedy for a Cause takes place at the Delta Hotel on President-Kennedy Avenue, May 30. Tickets cost $30.
With files from CBC Montreal's Homerun