LadyCab Offers One-Way Service for Ignorance

New Comedy Web Series Highlights Gender Bias in Drinking Culture

  • From left: Kirsten Humbert and Tessa J. Brown from the new web series called, “LadyCab.” Photo courtesy of their Facebook page

Three women are using humour to challenge Montreal police’s offensive response to sexual assault allegations in cabs last fall.

And they’re doing it in the very setting the authority suggested people shouldn’t be after a night of drinking: a cab.

LadyCab is a web series exploring the societal expectations placed on women, trans people and gender nonconforming people.

“I think we all have such trouble sometimes just moving around in public space, which is why the police’s comments were so frustrating,” Tessa J. Brown, who plays Emily in the series, told The Link over the phone. “When you’re out late at night, when you’re alone, taking a cab is supposed to be the safe option.”

So, Brown, Kirsten Humbert (as Dorcas) and Marianne Trenka (in the role of Florence) set out to create a platform where people could tell their “stories about women’s experiences—and them being trans women, cis women, as well as gender non-conforming people.”

And do so while mocking those expectations and the police’s impractical solution to avoiding possible sexual assault or harassment.

The three friends, writers, comedians and performers don bright red lipstick, fancy felt hats and fur lapels for the rides about town in which they pick up a different guest each episode.

They play British “l_aaaa_dies” (said with a satirical accent) offering a cab service for women because: “Well, gosh, what do they expect? Do they expect to have a personalized cab service?”

Brown questioned playfully, re-enacting a conversation between the three hosts when they came up with the idea to do the show. The cab service is actually Trenka’s car.

In one episode, a woman recounts a time she saw a woman being assaulted and badgered in the street, but felt her own security was in danger if she were to confront the attacker.

She snuck around the corner to call police, “but it took them so long to arrive. They told me they couldn’t see anyone anymore.” Who knows what happened to the women in the time it took officers to get there, she wondered?

The stories are heavy. They explore situations that put people in danger or are discriminatory. And they need to be told, Brown said, but the LadyCab hosts wanted to make them easier to tell and hear with humour.

People who identify as women are socialized not to talk about upsetting things and not to take things too seriously, she explained.

“When we can use humour as a framing device, I think it sometimes gives people permission and makes them more comfortable.”

Everyone has them, she said, recounting one of her own when her cab driver asked to “come away with me.” He got angry when Brown tried to laugh it off.

Then, he took a long and circuitous route to her destination while she attempted to de-escalate the situation, mentioning a fake fiancé. Now, she makes sure her phone is always charged and can’t ever “really relax in the back of a cab.”

Which are things women shouldn’t have to do, she continued.

If you have a story you’d like to talk about on LadyCab, you can contact Tessa J. Brown, Kirsten Humbert and Marianne Trenka at ladycabmtl@gmail.com. Their Youtube channel is “Lady Cab” and their Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/ladycabmtl .

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