| The Yuk Yuk's
women, clockwise from bottom left, Anna Gustafson, Taryn Della, Susan
Stewart, Martha Chaves, Jennifer Grant and Debra di Giovanni.
One Sunday a month is ladies' night at Yuk Yuk's. Not the usual kind of
ladies' night -- you know, free admission and a drink. In this case the
female comics take over.
They call themselves Broad Appeal, and on the day I talked to them the
six women shown here were on hand.
The group changes depending on who's available but no matter which female
comics are on the roster no one is safe -- not the audience, not Julia
Roberts and certainly not the Pope.
Referring to the clogged drain that caused the sewers to back up near
Downsview park when the Pope came to town, Debra di Giovanni, this year's
winner of Best New Comic at the Canadian Comedy Awards, observed dryly:
"I wish it had happened to Bad Boy. Then Mel [Lastman] would have
been down there in a flash, huh?"
I asked the ladies if it is difficult to make a living as a comic. Their
answer was a loud guffaw all around. "What living?," said Giovanni.
"I'm a receptionist by day."
"It is possible to do it," Martha Chaves, the producer of Broad
Appeal, quipped. "I'm making a great living ... compared to a comedian
Chaves is known mostly for her stand-up work but she also works in movies
-- John Q, for example. "I was the Spanish hostage, Rosa, with the
baby that never stops crying." She told me: "I heard that the
real mother of the child I was holding was not allowed to look Denzel
Washington in the eye," because he finds it distracting. "But
for me, it was really hard to look him in the eye because his eyes were
on my bosoms."
When I asked Chaves to let me take her photograph, she insisted on rounding
up all the women. Good Lord, I thought, how am I going to get six of them
in the frame. But we managed. "We have to stick together, said Anna
The women tell me they've developed quite a following over the two years
Broad Appeal has been around, though "mostly among women and gays."
Stand-up Susan Stewart complained the average heterosexual guy seems to
have trouble with her. "Oh, no, a woman comic," she mimicked.
"They give me back-handed compliments like, 'You weren't bad for
a girl, or 'You were kind of funny.' "
Actually, Broad Appeal is no-holds barred, come-and-get-it brand of humour.
The six all feel there are stereotypes about women that must be broken
-- and they're here to do it.
As aspiring comedians they are all hoping that some evening a big New
York agent will catch their act, or an established comic will drop in
and be impressed.
About a week or so ago, Kevin Nealon, of Saturday Night Live fame, showed
up at the Yuk Yuk's Toronto Superclub (224 Richmond St. W.) and performed.
So has Howie Mandel.
Surprisingly, the ladies say that being Canadian isn't a problem on the
road to fame. Indeed, women have it easier here than in the United States.
They may not be laughing all the way to the bank, but at least they're
And audiences are too. But be warned, as with the scariest rides at Canada's
Wonderland, Yuk Yuk's should put up a sign that reads: "Not for the