Nikki Payne Comedy Bar, Toronto ON, May 7

Nikki Payne Comedy Bar, Toronto ON, May 7
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At its worst, comedy can be an overwhelmingly male-dominated industry saturated with mediocrity. Thankfully, SheDot is rebelling against that. Its annual four-day festival focused on female funniness is a breath of fresh air, and this show was no exception. Nikki Payne and her opener Courtney Gilmour were both one-of-a-kind, gutsy, and above all hilarious.
 
Gilmour started the show by talking about her amputations and recounting some of the experiences she's had as a result of her disability. From the overreactions of strangers to her dad annoyingly comparing her to other amputees who have achieved bigger things, her set was unique to her own life, yet she made it relatable for everyone. Likewise, Gilmour was witty and original in her closer about her friend believing that keeping a knife block in your kitchen makes you more likely to get murdered, plus she proved she was quick on her feet when she addressed a latecomer by quipping "Large recap! I don't have hands."
 
Nikki Payne was also unmistakably distinctive. Between her vivid writing, her speech impediment, and her fiery delivery — peppered with extra doses of cursing because she had begrudgingly performed a completely clean set for a very prissy crowd in Muskoka the night before — her performance was magnetic. Her imitations of her misbehaving pets and her re-enactments of the mating calls were remarkably funny and shamelessly raw, as was her material about masturbation, which involved some odd act-outs.
 
On the other hand, she also found some amazing amusement in less crude subject matter. Her line about New Brunswick becoming "the Upper Beaches" of Toronto due to the real estate bubble was superb, and her story about having to call herself a clown in her loan application because the bank didn't acknowledge "standup comedian" as a real occupation was excellent.