At no point during my interview with Katie-Ellen Humphries and Fatima Dhowre did anyone use the term ‘supergroup,’ and yet it’s a word I keep returning to when I think of The Lady Show. On their own, Dhowre, Humphries, Morgan Brayton, Robyn Daye-Edwards, Erica Sigurdson, and Diana Bang are all well-known and well-respected comedians with countless accolades to their names; but just like the members of a late-‘90s pop boy band, they’re stronger together than they are apart.
For the yet-to-be initiated, The Lady Show is a monthly comedy show in Vancouver, born out of a shared admiration for, and joy of hanging out with, each other. The variety show structure of a typical Lady Show lets each comedian play to her own strengths, while also giving an opportunity to branch out. The Peak sat down with Dhowre and Humphries to learn more about what a typical Lady Show looks like and what inspired the change in home base, from local comedy haven Little Mountain Gallery to the East Van stronghold of the Biltmore Cabaret.
The Peak: Where did the inspiration for The Lady Show come from?
Katie-Ellen Humphries: We all work together on a show on OUTtv called Morgan Brayton & Other People, so that was where we started collaborating together. We realized we really liked that group of folks, and then also had this motivation amongst ourselves to create some different things outside of what we were typically doing, so whether we were doing stand-up and wanted to start writing more sketch, or do more character things. So it was born out of the TV show, and we just wanted to spend more time together. [Turns to Dhowre] I don’t know if you know this, I love you guys and I love hanging out with you, but I don’t make a lot of time for social activities.
Fatima Dhowre: I do one regular thing once a month, and everything else is work and comedy.
KEH: It’s an enormous blessing of this show, that I get to hang out with these women that I love so much.
P: What was the show originally envisioned as? Has The Lady Show changed in any significant ways from that vision?
FD: I don’t think so. It’s stayed pretty true to the vision so far. We just wanted to challenge ourselves, comedically, and introduce a really good show to the scene, and that’s exactly what’s happened.
KEH: For the audience, I was really hoping to draw some people who might not necessarily go to a traditional comedy show, because of the turn-off from comedy for any reason. We have hardcore comedy fans, we have people who come for the first time, we have people who come back because they had such a great time. It’s just this really diverse and fun audience.
P: Would you be able to walk me through a standard evening at The Lady Show?
FD: Only a couple of things have changed, but it basically follows the same formula. We always have a big sketch and an opening dance number to kick off the show, really hype everybody up, and then we traditionally have a featured guest, and that always changes. Sometimes it’s a stand-up guest, sometimes it’s a character performer, sometimes it’s a sketch performer. The two consistencies that we continue to do is a big opening number and we close together.
P: From reading past interviews, there’s definitely a feminist awareness to the show, but The Lady Show also seems pretty casual about it.
KEH: I think, for myself anyways, and I’m finding this in my own stand-up right now, is I don’t think it would be inaccurate to say there’s a feminist bent but it’s certainly not the end goal. The end goal, 100 percent of the time, is comedy and entertainment. We are there to have a good time and we’re there to entertain people. We are feminists…
FD: Maybe sometimes those points will come through in the comedy, but comedy is always the goal.
KEH: Morgan has been doing sketch comedy for 20 years, and at one time in her life, she created an all-female sketch group specifically to make a space where women could do comedy, because they didn’t have that room before, and that’s not the case for Fatima and I. There’s tons of room, it’s very inclusive. So we didn’t make The Lady Show specifically to be like, “This is a space for women to do comedy.” We like these women, and we like creating a community.
P: If the members of The Lady Show were to pull off a heist together, what would everyone’s role be?
FD: Morgan would be our mastermind planner, in charge of planning. She’s the person doing the voiceover during the heist montage.
KEH: Morgan would be the George Clooney, for sure. Erica would be on schematics, and she’d be the one to do any of the hacks and tech stuff. Robyn would be our femme fatale. Dianna would be our master of disguise. I would probably be the getaway driver, I’m a pretty reliable DD.
FD: I could be the secret weapon. I’m very good at distracting people.
KEH: We might set Fatima up as a lounge act, and then she’d be singing and drawing everyone’s attention, and that’s when we pull off the heist.
P: This month marks The Lady Show’s debut at the Biltmore Cabaret. What inspired the transition from Little Mountain Gallery?
FD: I feel like we just outgrew that venue. We were running two shows a night there, because we couldn’t fit everyone into one show.
KEH: We started with one show, and because we were selling out, we added a late show. It just felt like time. We’re sad to leave Little Mountain Gallery, but we’re so excited about moving to the Biltmore. It just seemed like a natural transition.
P: What will be different about the June 10 show than from previous instalments?
FD: This is the first show where all of us are there, the entire full cast. At least one of us has been away for every show, and this is the first one ever since Diana joined us that everyone is there.
KEH: We have every single member of the cast, so we’ve opted not to invite an outside guest this time. We’re kicking it off with an inaugural, full-cast Lady Show. Aside from that, you’ll get everything that you were getting out of The Lady Show previously. We’re still going to have a raucous dance number, we’re still going to have songs and character pieces.
FD: Everything you get at a Lady Show.
KEH: But we’ll have air-conditioning this time, too.
Catch Dhowre, Humphries, and the rest of The Lady Show gals on June 10 at their new home, the Biltmore Cabaret. You can also check out Dhowre’s new show, The List, happening June 17 at Havana; if you’re braving the unwashed masses at Pemberton Music Festival next month, you can catch Humphries opening for Maria Bamford on July 14.