Colour Outside the Lines Curates Improv-Comedy Night
The Group Is Pushing to Connect Communities Through Comedy
“I wanted to start hearing stories like my own and seeing people who look like me on stage,” said Sara Meleika, the creator of Colour Outside the Lines.
After noticing a lack of people of colour at the Montreal Improv Theatre located on St. Laurent Blvd., Meleika decided to create a performance group to bring people of different ethnic backgrounds together, having Egyptian roots herself.
The comedy show Colour Outside the Lines, which includes Meleika’s group of the same name, expands the stage of comedy to include people of Black and Brown communities and gather an audience who relate to their stories and experiences.
“I wanted to create a positive way to connect with my community and showcase stories of immigrants or people of colour and give us a sense of humanity,” Meleika said.
Colour Outside the Lines provides a platform for artists of colour to share their experiences and stories with an audience who will understand and relate to their perspectives.
“[The theme] can be anything from Donald Trump to potato salad, but we’re going to talk about it from our perspective as Black individuals in America. It becomes political because we’re Black talking about it.” — Ashawnti Sakina Ford
Their comedy is more than just laughter and buttery popcorn. Performers create a bond with the audience when their voices are heard and truly understood. While improvisation creates an unpredictability that entertains the audience, Meleika highlighted that sketches allow artists to discuss serious topics “like race and feminism” in a more careful manner.
Last Friday night’s show presented Blackout Improv from Minneapolis, The Tita Collective from Toronto, The Fresh Paint from Montreal and of course, Colour Outside the Lines. The hour-long show combined sketch and comedy with groups ranging in size between two and six people.
Alsa Bruno and Ashawnti Sakina Ford from Blackout Improv said they draw inspiration for their content mostly from personal experiences.
“The first chance I got to let people listen to me, I took it,” said Bruno, who comes from a big family.
“[The theme] can be anything from Donald Trump to potato salad, but we’re going to talk about it from our perspective as Black individuals in America,” Ford said. “It becomes political because we’re Black talking about it.”
Ford sees Blackout Improv as a way to break out of the idea that improvisation is a “white thing.”
“Black people, anybody of colour, any Brown person, we can do these art forms that people might associate with whiteness, but it’s really not; it’s for everyone,” Ford explained.
Ann Paula Bautista from the Tita Collective explained that the lack of representation of Filipina women in the art scene and in the media led to the creation of Tita Collective. The word “Tita” means “aunt” in Tagalog, but is more generally used to refer to female elders who are respected and admired.
“We all go through different hardships whether that’s from being an immigrant or being the child of an immigrant,” said Maricris Rivera, another member of the group. “A lot of the stuff we do is about identity, sometimes it’s about being Filipina-Canadian, and sometimes it’s about not being taken seriously because we’re short.”
By responding to the issue of inclusion, Colour Outside the Lines becomes much more than a simple comedy show—they call for greater diversity and representation in the humour industry. They host four to five shows each year at the Montreal Improv Theatre.