A four-year hiatus from the stage by standup comedienne Sandra Shamas was broken by seven pre-sold out weeks of Wit’s End, at the 120-seat cabaret space at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre, which come to an end March 16.
Box office records for a one-person show in Toronto were subsequently broken with ten SRO weeks at the Winter Garden Theatre, a magnificent 1,000-seat survivor from the vaudeville era.
Using only one chair and a small table, and dressed in black casual clothing, the Second City alumnus regaled her multi-generational audiences with hilarious accounts of love, marriage and divorce, and of a city woman learning to cope with living on a large rural farm.
While working as one of Jim Jenson’s puppeteers on his popular “Fraggle Rock” TV series, Shamas started moonlighting as a standup comic. She evolved her act into her first “lone woman” show, My Boyfriend’s Back & There’s Gonna Be Laundry or A Feminist’s Assault on Sex, Lies and Advertising. It became an instant hit at the 1987 Edmonton Fringe Theatre Festival, subsequently playing across Canada, the U.S. and London’s famed Old Vic Theatre. Her self-produced sequel, subtitled The Cycle Continues, premiered in 1989 and became a ten-week sellout at Toronto’s 200-seat Alumnae Theatre, later touring to SRO engagements across Canada.
Shamas has appeared at Montreal’s “Just For Laughs” Festival; those appearances were also seen on The Comedy Channel. Her participation in “Wisecracks” a Canadian film documenting women in comedy garnered Canadian showbiz and cultural awards. Resting and writing will take up most of her time before she takes Wit’s End to Ottawa’s National Arts Centre next October.
--By Alan Raeburn, Canadian Correspondent.