Crimson Wave on going where few female comics dare to tread
U of T student and comedian Sam Feldman sat down with the feminist comedy duo Crimson Wave, made up of U of T alumnus Jess Beaulieu and Natalie Norman, to discuss their careers as female comics, as well as their menstruation-focused weekly podcast.
FELDMAN: Why did you want to start a podcast on menstruation?
NORMAN: When I started comedy, I was told not to talk about menstruation by other female comics. Well, I’ve had my period since I was ten, and it’s a big part of my life, as I have a period every month. But I also feel there’s a lot of shame and stigma around menstruation and I don’t think there should be. Bodily functions of men are so openly discussed and not shamed ... at all, and I think it should be equal for women. Especially because it’s such an important experience for most women, and we know it’s a funny topic to be discussed.
FELDMAN: What have you learned the most about menstruation through this podcast?
BEAULIEU: Uh … we’ve learned a lot. *laughing* We were concerned we wouldn’t be able to keep it up because it's a very specific subject that we’re discussing, but we’re on episode 77 now and people are still downloading and still listening. I think everyone’s connected to someone who menstruates in the world, be it your mother, your sister, your girlfriend, or your friend. It’s very relatable, but at the same time experiences do vary significantly.
NORMAN: We also talk a lot about sexual relationships between men and women. A question we often ask is would you let a man go down on you? I find more often than not a lot of women don’t let men go down on them, period, pun intended (joking). *laughter* That’s an interesting social construct where women feel like they need to pleasure their partner and they feel self conscious about their vulva and their vagina, period.
FELDMAN: Were you at all surprised by how much people seem to be into this topic?
NORMAN: No. I’m not surprised because I know that all my friends and everyone in my life is fascinated by periods and sex and the female body. In the context of comedy it is a bit surprising, but that has to do with the industry that we work in and the sexism that’s still prevalent and the opinions of other comedians, bookers, and producers. I’m not shocked that feminists are pro-period comedy, because that’s kind of what it’s all about. Removing shame discussing these issues ... in an open, non-judgemental space.
BEAULIEU: It’s a good hook saying it’s a podcast about periods, it hits this niche market. It hits the feminist market, it hits women in general, it hits people who are into more alternative comedy.
FELDMAN: Do you think that’s where comedy is headed? Towards more niche things?
BEAULIEU: I think so. It’s important that people tend to gravitate towards individuals who are very opinionated and stand by their opinions.
NORMAN: One of the biggest compliments we receive is that people think we’re so frank and open about everything and have no shame and are willing to talk about anything. I think that’s why people feel like they can trust us and talk to us.
FELDMAN: That’s what I think is so strong about your stuff. You have such a clear, strong perspective and good dynamic.
BEAULIEU: Our show is like that too. We usually open the show ... with Natalie and I talking for 15 minutes about whatever the hell is happening in our lives related to periods, sex, relationships, dating, or feminism. It’s very intimate, everybody can talk about … weird sex they have, or IBS, or balls, or buying a vibrator, or roleplay, and they know this is an environment where the audience is receptive to that, and we encourage it because that’s the type of show we want to produce.
NORMAN: People come on as comedians expecting to set up certain jokes, and they change their jokes because they realize “oh, I can talk about this,” and they’re excited.
BEAULIEU: Something that really upsets me in comedy, and this is especially true for female comedians, [is that] you kind of get labeled as a ‘dirty comedian’ if you talk about sex, your body, periods, dating, whatever. I get this negative undertone to it. A lot of women, again, are pressured into silencing themselves because they don’t want to be called a slut.
FELDMAN: It’s great there’s a place you can talk about dirty stuff and not be in the misogynistic world of dirty comedy.
BEAULIEU: The most respected alternative male comedian in the country can go on stage and talk about his weird-shaped dick for 10 minutes and nobody questions it. I’ve heard entire sets about farts but a woman can’t talk about queefing or farting.
FELDMAN: I was just thinking about what the female equivalent would be...
NORMAN: Women fart as well. Sometimes you queef and fart at the same time. *laughter* Can that be the headline of this article?
FELDMAN: Yeah, it better be.comments powered by Disqus