Comedy at the Fringe Festival: “Giant And Angry” Review

Gillian English Presents Her Feminist Show

  • Gillian English performed her one-woman show “Giant And Angry” at the Fringe Festival for the first time. Photo Dahlia Katz

Gillian English performed her one-woman show Giant And Angry at the Fringe Festival At the Théâtre Sainte-Catherine on June 7 for the first time. Her observations about oppression are spot-on. English is done with the oppression women face daily. Done being belittled, done being infantilized, and ready to make noise. Her narrative skills made for a hilarious show.

“I’m angry that it is easier to teach women self-defence than to teach men not to be goddamn rapists,” said English during our interview. “I’m angry that when you go to the police about a sexual assault, they’re still gonna ask you what you were wearing. I’m fucking livid that it’s 2018 and I’m fighting for the same things my mom fought for in the 70s.”

Born and raised in Nova Scotia, English later moved from Toronto to work and live in Australia. She has been successfully making a living as a stand-up artist for the past two years there, and said she felt welcomed in Australia’s comedy community.

“I’m able to actually earn a living over there as a stand-up, which, no matter what I did here in Canada, no matter how hard I worked, I was never given the opportunity,” English explained.

English came to Montreal for the Fringe Festival to present her embodied and personal show. By talking about anger, by being angry, by demanding men to do better, and by occupying the space she deserves, English allowed us audience members to get in touch with our anger too.

“I think there’s a lot of women out there who are so angry, and the thing is, women aren’t allowed to be angry,” said English. “We’re not supposed to be angry, because it’s terrifying to men. You can be fierce, you can be feisty, you can be sassy.”

“It’s the trivialization of women’s emotions.”

“I think there’s a lot of women out there who are so angry, and the thing is, women aren’t allowed to be angry. We’re not supposed to be angry, because it’s terrifying to men. You can be fierce, you can be feisty, you can be sassy. It’s the trivialization of women’s emotions.” ⎯ Gillian English

Giant And Angry fired me up; English’s anger quickly transferred to the audience as we cheered in unison, punctuating her well-crafted reflections. The show had a strong narrative; English slips in and out of anecdotes seamlessly.

“It’s not okay to say boys will be boys, because that essentially, to me, says, these guys will never be held accountable for their actions, and that is unacceptable,” stated English.

The format of stand-up comedy is an effective medium for social change, which happens through art and culture, English explained.

“Because it’s a direct address,” she said, “I don’t have to hide behind a character, I don’t have to create some kind of artifice. I can look someone in the eyes and say whatever I want. I can sugar it up with a veneer of comedy, but I can get real shouty, I can let it out, and I get to be a part of the change. This is the art that I create to be a part of the movement.”

English’s contagious energy cultivated a sense of connection between members of the audience. She shared stories that resonated intensely, and in her openness I felt a sense of kinship.

I left the Théâtre Sainte-Catherine ready to develop a relationship with my anger. English made me laugh, but also feel a little braver, a little more equipped, and a little taller, too.

For more information about Giant And Angry visit https://montrealfringe.ca/organizer/giant-and-angry/.

By commenting on this page you agree to the terms of our Comments Policy.