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Tamara Shevon Reflects On 10 Years Of Stand Up Comedy

The Toronto-based comic talks to IN about her 10-year comedy anniversary, her first-ever set, her impact on the queer community and much more…

Tamara Shevon is celebrating a pretty major milestone this month: Ten years of making audiences laugh. Loved and respected among Toronto’s comedy community and the city’s queer community, Shevon has performed stand-up all over Canada, United States, and China.

In recognition of the milestone, Shevon will be celebrating with a special edition of her monthly Chaotic Good show at Comedy Bar Bloor on November 25. The anniversary celebration is filled with an A+ lineup of comedy killers and is guaranteed to blow the roof off the place!

IN Magazine recently sat down with Shevon to talk about her comedy anniversary, her first-ever set, her new comedy album Table Wine, the oddest show that she’s ever done, her impact on the queer community and much more.

You are celebrating your 10 year comedy anniversary this November, what is your proudest achievement thus far in your comedy career?
My proudest achievement so far in comedy has been performing for the CBC Accent on Toronto live recording and taping. I performed for 1,200 people at the historic Danforth Music Hall (which was my biggest theatre show to date) alongside some of the best comedians in Canada. It was surreal to go from performing in basements for 6 people at the beginning of my comedy journey, to performing at a theatre with all clean material, in front of over a thousand people. It really felt like everything I had been working toward for so long was finally paying off and it was a very emotional, full circle moment.

You have two comedy albums, Purse Wine and Table Wine, what inspired the names of these albums and how would you describe each album to anyone that is going to listen?
My debut album Purse Wine is a tribute to the hardships I endured while trying to succeed in making a name for myself in Stand-up Comedy. I was so broke when I first started breaking into the Toronto comedy scene that I didn’t even have enough money to buy a drink at the bar I was performing at. Instead, I would buy the cheapest wine that I could find, put it into water bottle and carry it around in my purse and drink it on my way to shows. I like to call Purse Wine my degenerate album – a window into a very reckless period of my life but also a carefree time in my life where I just blindly trusted that things would work out. The hope was that one day I would look back on how broke I was and laugh. My sophomore album, Table Wine is meant to show the growth I worked hard to achieve. Table Wine is all about me growing up and having enough money to buy good wine and make better choices but of course, I still get myself into some outrageous situations, but I am a lot classier in my approach this time around when dealing with my issues. Table Wine focuses more on relationships of all kinds and new adventures and experiences that I think a lot of people can relate to.

What inspired you to try stand up comedy? Can you remember your first ever set?
I was living in Beijing, China and would go watch comedy every week at this place called Hot Cat which was a place where a lot of foreigners would go to connect and watch comedy in English. After going to this comedy show every week for almost 6 months, I signed up to do my first ever set on my birthday. I can still remember my first set like it was yesterday, I was so nervous and thought I was going to bomb and then ended up having so much fun that I went 3 minutes over time (which I do not advise doing) but luckily it went well enough that I was welcomed back to do a feature show at the Hilton in Beijing. I still have the video of my first ever set and I often look back on it to remind myself of how great I thought I did on that night and how much it makes me cringe now. It is a humble reminder to always keep working even if I think I am doing well.

What do you hope your impact is in the queer community when it comes to your standup comedy?
I always aim to push for representation for the queer community through my standup comedy. As a bisexual woman and a Black woman, I do my best to always represent my community and show that being a part of the queer community can look and feel different for everyone. I have been able to uplift queer voices through curating comedy shows for the queer community, by the queer community. This past summer, I had the honour of hosting the Bi-phoria stage for Pride Toronto and I was recently released featured a special on OutTV called Out of Laughs. I think my impact at Pride Toronto was showing the bi-sexual community that we are loved and often misunderstood but deserve to be represented. I think that incorporating my experiences of my journey of coming out as bi-sexual in my comedy has helped a lot of people feel less alone in their journeys. It is always fascinating to see the amount of people that send me messages and come up to me after shows and tell me that I helped them process their emotions with their families and their partners and helped them be more vocal about their sexuality. I never thought that would be something I could help people with, but comedy is such a unique vessel that heals people in ways that sometimes I don’t even realize until it is presented to me.

How long did it take for you to discover your voice in comedy? Was this a difficult process?
I would say that it took me about a year to discover my true voice in comedy. I used to have many different styles of comedy that I dabbled in, and I realized pretty early on that I took more of a liking to story-telling and observational comedy. For me, leaning into observational humour through storytelling was a pretty smooth process. I realized that the more I related my comedy to things that were actually happening in my life, the easier it was going to be to lose the nerves I had and connect with my audiences better because it would just feel more authentic. I am aware that I am lucky that I figured that out for myself early, I know it takes many people many years to find their voice in comedy, so I am extremely grateful that I figured it out early and just have been able to spend 9 years strengthening my voice.

What is the oddest show you’ve ever done?
The oddest show I have ever done was at a nudist resort in Ontario. It was Canada Day, and I tricked my partner into coming by telling him we could spend Canada Day at a resort that had two lakes, a pool, a sauna, a hot tub, and a volleyball tournament. He was stoked to go until I told him that the only catch was that we had to be naked. We got there, got undressed in the parking lot, and I performed in front of about 100 naked people while I was completely naked. They tell you to picture your audiences naked, well, I really didn’t have to imagine that for this gig. Despite it being an odd concept, I actually had an amazing time because the audience was one of the best that I’ve ever had so I will always be grateful for the opportunity and a few good stories to tell.

For more information on Toronto-based comic Tamara Shevon visit tamarashevon.com.

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