Aisha Alfa The Cornerstone, Guelph ON, June 14

Aisha Alfa The Cornerstone, Guelph ON, June 14
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Aisha Alfa performed a sex-positive set for a sold-out crowd at a narrow vegetarian restaurant as the headliner for That Time of the Month at the Cornerstone in Guelph. The feminist LGBTQ-positive show, produced by Erinn White and Natalie Norman with the Making-Box, has only two rules: all of the performers have to identify as women, and "no rape jokes."
 
Hayley Kellett from the Making-Box acknowledged the tragic shooting in Orlando and introduced local slam poet Truth Is…, who performed a moving spoken word piece about pride extending beyond parades to individual moments in one's life, in this case a walk down the aisle.
 
White and Norman had also asked for collections for feminine hygiene products to be donated as part of the Tampon Tuesdays initiative. Holly Mastrogiacomo, owner of Smitten Apparel consignment store, spoke about the importance of helping women manage their hygiene with dignity.
 
Given the seriousness with which the evening began, host Errin White, guided the crowd back to the comedy show quickly with a hilarious bit about her father, since Father's Day is on Sunday. She explained that she never had an "imaginary friend," but she and her siblings grew up with an "imaginary dad." She added that she had trouble writing Father's Day cards in elementary school because it's hard to spell: "Jerk My Mom Is Currently Dating."
 
Starting the show was Cas Knihnisky. Her stage persona was a funny contradiction of exhaustion and intensity. She talked about the energy supplements she requires as a sad white woman, and explained that the fourth level of depression is the "sweet spot," because "you're already dead inside." Knihnisky's dark humour seemed to lighten the mood even more, and set the stage for the easy-going, storytelling style of the next comedian.
 
Amber Dewar talked about polyamory, then veered into the terrible awkwardness of breaking up over a dinner date and then having to split the bill. Her material was unique to her experience, making it very original but incredibly accessible.
 
Next up was Jackie Pirico, who delivered one well-honed joke after another, all in her signature child-like persona. Whether she was talking about getting waxed, cheated on, or a man who had sex with a dolphin for a year, she never broke character. Pirico is a remarkably expressive performer who is always a pleasure to watch, but on this night was also a pleasure to listen to as she played a couple songs on her recorder with impressive skill.
 
Following the intermission, Natalie Norman picked up on White's joke as she talked about a broom she thought of as her friend when she was a child. She then spent a lot of her set talking about Loblaws' cake in ways that will never let you look at Loblaws or a cake the same way again.
 
Aisha Alfa meant business the moment she walked onto the stage. A highly energetic performer, Alfa moved like a blur from one bit to the next. Sure, she started off seemingly innocent, as she talked about grinding her teeth at night and stress, but was quick to explain that her injuries were due to recurring orgasms caused by sex dreams. From the first misdirect, it was clear that she knew what she was doing, what she liked, and she made sure you liked it too. And yes, that's a highly unsubtle reference to her refreshingly sex-positive material from a woman's perspective.
 
One story, early on in her set, was particularly grating for the audience: Alfa shared an experience of sexism she faced when a man, with whom she had to work, made a snide remark about female comedians only telling "chick jokes." The rest of her set centred on breakups, periods, and sex; all of which was performed with such a strong vulnerability and blatant rebellion that it was clear that chick jokes were the clear way to go.
 
Alfa ended on a joke about cultural clash over a game of Cranium, where she mimicked her father's Nigerian accent and professional demeanour as he attempted to guess her Manitoban uncle's portrayal of a cat. As she alternated between her uncle's cat-impression and her father's guesses, she filled the room with so much laughter and such wide smiles that the narrow restaurant seemed filled with ten times as many people. Alfa is releasing her first comedy album, You See Me Now, this July.