A Night of Authentic Laughs

May 3, 2017 | Milan Orridge

Last week, in association with the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, Black Space Winnipeg presented the dynamic comedy of both Caribbean-Islander-turned-- Torontonian Gilson Lubin and artistic director of the night’s venue, Lara Rae. While you could call the night an intimate one, there’s no doubt those in attendance can verify the laughter exiting that darkened room resembled that of a crowd larger than the Gas Station Arts Centre could handle.


Divulging hilarious and seldom-discussed perspectives on her transition in middle-age, Lara Rae is a prime example of the joys that come from living an authentic life—in her case, by regarding estrogen as “the best drug [she’s] ever had in her body” and confirming her identity by surgery. In a laid-back performance including some of Lara’s new material, perhaps inadvertently, she underscores the importance of established spaces where these truths can be freely explored. Between the self-deprecating bit regarding vaginal dilators that left me laughing to myself days after the show and the mentioning that Montreal is the only place in Canada where one can receive gender confirming surgery, is it possible my fellow audience members and I walked out of this show not just fully laughed-out, but a bit more informed as well? I think we’re all leaning towards a yes.


Gilson Lubin then commandeered the stage to deliver his wide-eyed and honest humour, his visit ensuring the continuance of a diverse Winnipeg Arts scene alongside his co-presenter Lara Rae. Alexa Potashnik (founder, Black Space Winnipeg), “expressed the need for inclusion and the importance of growth in the arts community to support diversified programming” in a meeting with Rae, and the St. Lucian born comedian’s remarks on race, particularly on the newfound racial disparity he experienced in leaving his island community— promises to achieve that as he continues to make appearances in Canada and internationally. His portrayal of the black community (a group he praises for its supportiveness) and his self-professed wish to “break down stereotypes” in his comedy make it easy to get behind. And of course, rants lamenting a rude awakening with the Canadian winter were not left out.


Admittedly, even though I have called the birthplace of the Winnipeg Comedy Festival my home for several years now, this exuberant pair—I say with great shame—comprised my first-ever live comedy experience if you’re not counting the endless selection of one hour specials available on Netflix. Between garnering new and hilarious perspectives to indulging in the nostalgia of the very familiar, I’m hard-pressed to say a better first time could be had. Beyond my anecdotal remarks, Gilson and Lara gifted guests a provocative and entertaining night and Black Space Winnipeg was thrilled to present them both.

Niyi Adewole