A national comedy tour about rape: rape jokes by survivors
By Heather Jordan Ross
Like many ideas, this one started over a beer between two friends. Unlike the average beer between friends, I had just reported my sexual assault, and I was asking fellow comedian Emma Cooper how to make it funny.
Emma joked, why not have a comedy show performed only by survivors? After a beat, we wrote down every comedian we knew of that had experienced something similar, our dream venue, and a title that would intrigue and annoy a nation.
Rape is Real & Everywhere, an homage to a piece of Vancouver graffiti, would be comedy show about rape, as told by survivors. Three weeks later, we were performing in front of a sold out audience in one of the hottest comedy venues in Vancouver.
The show was genuine, unnerving, and most importantly — funny.
The show was genuine, unnerving, and most importantly — funny. The performers were powerful and vulnerable, the crowd was supportive. Comedians liked it. Survivors loved it.
We reached out to stand-ups across the country, asking if they would do the two hardest things ever: talk publicly about sexual assault and then promise to make it funny.
An astonishing 25 comedians responded to the call.
In May of 2016, we set out on an odyssey of 15 shows across 13 cities. But after selling out an alternative comedy show in Vancouver, touring nationally would be a whole other kettle of funny.
On our national tour, Emma and I were confronted with the definition of a survivor, our own prejudices, and the strength it would take to pull the whole thing off.
A year later, Emma and I reflected on our tour in this radio documentary of the same name: Rape is Real & Everywhere.
About the Producer
This episode features music by Jahzzar.