Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Laughing matters

Jodie McNamara launches new night of queer standup

Jodie McNamara is chair of Capital Pride, but she’s gradually returning to performing comedy.  Credit: Ben Welland

Queer comedians are the backbone — or at least the long eyelashes — of comedy, but there are few recurring standup nights with a queer focus. Ottawa will soon have one of its own, thanks to Jodie McNamara and Yuk Yuk’s.

McNamara is chair of Capital Pride, but a decade ago she was a budding comedian. She quit comedy to teach in Korea, but she’s gradually returning to it and to one of her old haunts, Yuk Yuk’s.

Yuk Yuk’s wanted to be part of McNamara’s return to comedy and decided she’d be a good fit for Laugh Out Proud 10, the 10th anniversary of their annual Pride comedy show.

“My material is very different from what it was 10 years ago. I didn’t identify as queer, but now I very much do, so this time around my material is mostly about being queer,” McNamara says.

She then worked toward brokering a partnership between Capital Pride and Yuk Yuk’s that should make this year’s Laugh Out Proud one of the best.

While McNamara’s looking forward to her set at Laugh Out Proud, seven minutes onstage will not assuage her hunger for performing in front of a queer audience.

“When I perform queer material for a straight audience, it has to be framed as queerness through a straight lens so that they can get the jokes,” McNamara says. “And if you always have to tailor your experiences for somebody who has no idea what you’re talking about, you’re just not as funny as you could be.”

So, she went back to Yuk Yuk’s (not in her capacity as chair of Capital Pride) and proposed a recurring queer comedy night, to showcase talent both local and otherwise and to begin in November. “I want it to welcome the queer community but also the burlesque community or anyone who doesn’t feel like they have a place — misfits,” McNamara says.

The new night launches Sunday, Nov 16. McNamara and Nikki Payne will be among those performing at the inaugural night. Some details are yet to be decided, such as the event’s name and frequency (monthly or quarterly), but McNamara is eager to announce this new event as soon as possible to take advantage of a great opportunity.

“Yuk Yuk’s has agreed that the proceeds from any tickets sold [for the Nov 16 event] during Pride Week — from the limited batch that will be available during the period — will go to charity,” McNamara says. “The funds will go to the Jon Letke Foundation for his services, with any leftovers going to the Friendly Giants Dog Rescue and the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre.”

For more info and to purchase tickets, visit