Now Or Never

Caribou meat and comedy: Inside Iqaluit's underground all-women comedy night

Want to crack jokes in the north? If you're a woman, you might want to get in touch with Bibi Bilodeau and Angnakuluk Friesen.
Ipik Friesen tells jokes at Iqaluit's new underground women's comedy night as her sister, Angnakuluk Friesen, looks on. (Michelle Pucci/CBC)
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There are some key ingredients to putting together a women's comedy night in Iqaluit:

  • A living room.
  • A microphone.
  • A chihuahua named Harley and a poodle named Patuk.
  • A snack table with fresh seal meat, caribou and trail mix.
  • A handmade sign that says "Bitches Get Shit Done."
  • Male audience members (if they dare come) in mandatory dresses and makeup.
  • Really funny women.

That's exactly what you'll find at the weekly, underground women's comedy night that Bibi Bilodeau and Angnakuluk Friesen started just three weeks ago.

Bibi Bilodeau steps up to the mic. The weekly, underground women's comedy night started just three weeks ago. (Michelle Pucci/CBC)

So far, five women are in. Bilodeau and Friesen hope to get at least 10 aspiring comedians to join.

"The stand-up moment for me is seeing women that I think are very talented come into the room and say they're just going to be in the audience," said Bilodeau.

Harley the chihuahua is the comedy night's mascot. (Michelle Pucci/CBC)

"Then they want to keep talking, and they want to tell one more story or one more joke. And by the end of the night, the pressure's gone, everyone's letting loose, and they're running to the mic while they have seal blood on their faces!"

At their most recent gathering, the women cracked jokes about everything from breastfeeding to being Inuk outside Nunavut. Here's an example of an impromptu stand-up set from Friesen that got a hearty round of laughs:

"So I have 10 New Year's resolutions. I started two of them: I quit smoking and I started going to the gym. The gym is a scary place for a woman but I've been getting comfortable with it and having a good time. I'm getting more healthy but I don't think it counts because I don't take selfies and post them.

I saw someone taking a selfie while they were running on a treadmill. She was running and running. She had sweat pouring down her face. She took her phone out and took a selfie. Then she tripped. Her nose started bleeding. I think she broke her nose! I felt so bad — mostly because I was the one who threw the dumbbell."

Some of the bloody remains on the comedy night snack table. The snacks include fresh seal meat, caribou and trail mix. (Michelle Pucci/CBC)

Bilodeau is hopeful that, over time, the comedy group will go public. Eventually, they'd like to go beyond the living room and also perform at community venues in Iqaluit. 

"The goal is to create a crew of women and be really good comedians," she said. "So we're creating space where we can just practice and practice."

No women's comedy night would be complete without a poodle. Here's Patuk with funny woman Angnakuluk Friesen. (Michelle Pucci/CBC)

Click 'listen' above to hear Ify Chiwetelu's interview with Bibi Bilodeau as well as Angnakuluk Friesen's gym joke.

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