Over the decades, many comedians have come under criticism for “punching down” at the marginalized. They’ve included Dave Chappelle, Bill Maher, and Ricky Gervais, among others. In the past, it’s been less common to see standup comics who “punch up” against those born into privilege.
However, that appears to be changing in Vancouver, which is one of Canada’s more fertile comedy hubs. In fact on Wednesday (July 12), there’s a whole evening of comedy under the banner of “Punch Up” at the Indian Summer Festival. It features three comedians—Joanne Tsung, Tin Lorica, and Sasha Mark—who appeared in OUTtvGO’s six-part Killjoy Comedy series.
Also appearing on-stage at Performance Works that night will be fashion-focused Indigenous standup Savannah Erasmus and wisecracking South Asian Canadian Kamal Pandya. Pandya, who describes his comedy as “proudly mediocre”, is a regular at Indian Summer, having previously hosted its 5X15 events.
Indian Summer’s lead curator, Anoushka Ratnarajah, is the curator of Punch Up. She’s a former artistic director of the Vancouver Queer Film Festival. Coincidentally, in 2017 Ratnarajah succeeded the creator of Killjoy Comedy, Shana Myara, in that position.
In an interview with Pancouver earlier this year, Myara suggested that comics who don’t pick on the marginalized—the “killjoys”, as she calls them—are reshaping the comedy world.
“Each of them does it a little differently,” she said.
Read Myara’s takes on Tsung, Lorica, and Mark in this article.