Sasheer Zamata Shows Off Her Stand-Up Self to Montreal

In First Visit to Just For Laughs, Zamata Talks About Her Life, Race, Women’s Issues

  • Sasheer Zamata headlined at The Katacombes earlier this week. Photo courtesy of Just For Laughs.

On a rainy Monday evening, the Katacombes weren’t filled with punk fans. Instead, comedy enthusiasts amassed to witness Sasheer Zamata’s first visit to Montreal. In her first of three 30-minute sets for Off-JFL, the former Saturday Night Live cast member slayed by offering a completely different side to her television self.

Opening for Zamata were The Lucas Brothers, a comedy duo who performed a five-minute set to warm up the audience for the main act. In spite of themselves, the two twin brothers smashed the audience with their very first joke.

One of the two brothers accidentally said the punch line in his premise and both realized the mistake at the same moment. The culprit of the two rushed off the stage as he screamed “We’ll start again.” The full version of the joke got laughs from both the audience and the brothers themselves.

In a few minutes, the co-stars of the television series Lucas Bros. Moving Co. easily got the approval of the audience. What seemed to be a testing of new material, as they were referring to a cell phone placed on a stool, The Lucas Brothers were smooth yet in sync. The duo went through their opening act with expert timing—well, except for their mishap at the start.

After The Lucas Brothers finished their set, Zamata took to the stage. As the larger audience knew her for making sketches and impressions on NBC, Zamata opened up to the audience with her stand up. She talked about her personal life, sharing anecdotes about her trip to Missouri with her boyfriend, where she found herself being only one of two black people there. She mentioned trying to communicate with the other black person to make sure that they weren’t in a “_Get Out_ situation.”

Zamata doesn’t shy away from talking about race in her set. The comedian said that race is a subject that needs to be talked about more, though laughter can a part of that discussion.

However, Zamata spoke of the tension that some audience members feel when she speaks about race. On stage, she recalled a night where one person literally left the room out of shyness. She asked the audience member if they were feeling uncomfortable after she had been talking about race in her set for a while.

The subjects can feel a little more awkward to listen to for some people than your average comedian, but Zamata isn’t one of your average, dare I say boring, comedians. She has no lame airport jokes. There were also very few jokes on Canada’s behalf, which was a nice surprise, coming from an American comedian visiting the country. However, she did question the Canadian Tuxedo as being a stereotype put on Canadians.

The Indianapolis native also kills it when talking about women’s issues. She mentions why she keeps her body hair, and questions why companies use feminism to sell their products. She uses a paper towel commercial as an example of how it is both used and very badly done. In one of their commercials, the company went through images of women in history and, in the last two slides, went from Amelia Earhart to Serena Williams—as if no other women existed or mattered between these two marked women in history!

Zamata’s flow on stage is seamless as she jumps from anecdote to a topic and then back again. There was no choppiness from her set that made the audience question her quick change of subjects.

At the surprisingly cosy Katacombes comedy theatre, Zamata jumped on stage in front of an audience that mainly came to see her as a former SNL cast member. Around 30 minutes later, she left the planks with those same people thinking of her as a stand-up comedian.

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