Pierce County YWCA hosts night of feminist comedy
“I just wake up and I’m kind of angry. Probably because I’m a woman and it’s 2018.” Such were the opening words of M.C. Jamika Scott during the second annual “Stand Up for YWCA” comedy extravaganza held on the evening of Oct. 11 at the Swiss Restaurant and Pub in downtown Tacoma.
The proceeds of the event went directly to the local Pierce County chapter of the YWCA an organization that, according to their website, is committed to “eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, and dignity for all.”
As Scott so pointedly alluded to, today’s political climate has exacerbated the pain and frustration women already experience on a daily basis. With the confirmation of alleged sexual assailant Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, many have been left to doubt our nation’s commitment to protecting women and survivors of sexual assault and abuse.
The event was just one in a series of activities sponsored by the organization as part of their Domestic Violence Action Month. Development Director of the Pierce County YWCA chapter Jessica Gavre said in a statement to The Trail that the show has been “a great way to bring people together to laugh while also having serious conversations about sexual assault, women’s rights and intersectionality.”
When asked how she thought comedy could be employed to stand up for a cause such as preventing violence against women, Gavre said, “Feminist comedians have used comedy to call out sexist double standards and critique patriarchal practices for years. By both challenging societal norms and embracing feminism, comedians are making us listen by making us laugh.”
Indeed, there was more than enough resistance in the room to go around. One comedian, Jill Silva, even opened her set with a bold “F—- Kavanaugh!” which was followed by a rapturous applause from the audience. Needless to say, in the wake of this moment of national crisis, the YWCA comedy show provided a much-needed space for locals to come together and vent their collective anger.
But it wasn’t all negative on the stage of the Swiss that night, as the event also happened to coincide with National Coming Out Day. When comedian Monisa Brown called attention to this fact, the audience exploded into a chorus of whoops and yelps, to which Brown responded, “Wow, it was like the Kool-aid man just burst in!”
Brown then decided to commemorate the moment even further by coming out to the audience as pansexual: “This is gonna be a moment. I used to identify as bisexual, but I think I’m pan. … So, I guess I just came out to all of you. This is a special moment, thank you for being here!” Brown was met with nothing but support from a gracious audience who was just as thankful to share the moment with her.
After the show, Brown spoke to her gratitude for the event: “This is my second year doing the fundraiser and I always feel so empowered when I leave and I hope that’s how everyone else felt when they left as well. I think comedy, especially from marginalized voices, is some of the most powerful medicine.”
Another performer who went by the stage-name “Chocolate the Entertainer,” spoke of her own experiences as a trans woman of color: “So, I’m one of those trans women you hear about that want rights … but I’m also black so I want extra rights still. But we haven’t gotten there yet.”
Chocolate’s set ranged the gamut of emotions, from lewd and outrageous to raw and vulnerable. But it was these words in particular that seemed to speak to the spirit of the night: “So I guess I’m just here to tell you some raunchy jokes so that you can forget most of your pain and anguish, so that you can laugh about it and then later remember that pain and anguish and say, ‘Okay, I guess we can still do this.’”
And therein lies the heart of the show; during one of our country’s darker moments, the YWCA comedy show not only provided Tacoma community members with some respite from the pain of our daily lives, but reminded us that we’re still here, we’re still alive, and as Chocolate said, we can still do this.
To learn more about the Pierce County YWCA chapter or how to get involved, you can visit their website at ywcapiercecounty.org. You can also follow Monisa Brown on Instagram at @neesuhb.