The Lesbian Information Xchange’s upcoming women-only comedy show, Girls Want to Laugh, will feature two lesbian comedians covering material that straight performers wouldn’t dare attempt. LIX, a non-profit lesbian networking organization, is putting on the show as a fun conclusion to a day of workshops called Girls Want to Know How To.
Susan Fischer and Sheila Norgate will both perform character-based acts. Fischer will open the show as Evelyn Reese, a character she’s performed at several Toronto Fringe Festivals. “[Reese] is a 60-something executive secretary who wears her skirts too short, chain smokes fake cigarettes, is man crazy, likes to tell stories and fancies herself a comedienne — and she’d say ‘comedienne’ because she’s stuck in the ’70s,” Fischer says.
Norgate’s character, a “pseudo-scientist from the Ladies’ Institute for Endless Rectification,” will deliver a lecture entitled Lesbian Etiquette: Strange Sisters with Bad Manners. For the performance, Norgate will adopt a more professorial version of her name, SM Norgate. “I created this character after becoming fascinated by vintage etiquette books. I found my first book years ago, and now I have a collection of about 125. They’re on charm, beauty, home economics — all books telling girls how to be,” she says. “I started giving lectures on the subject, and lesbian etiquette was an obvious extension of that. As far as what culture expects from us, lesbians behave very badly.”
Because both comedians are lesbians playing straight characters — pretending to be outsiders when they’re actually insiders — they have a sort of licence to say things about lesbians that other comedians don’t. Evelyn Reese doesn’t consider herself homophobic but won’t shy away from words like “poofter” and “lezzie” in her occasional forays into queer matters; and while SM Norgate has given up trying to reform lesbians, she’d really like it if they would at least try to look and behave a little better — and what’s with all the potlucks?