Fashion (Canada) - - The Market People -

This year, co­me­dian Shirley Whalen, 28, made it into the semi­fi­nals of the Sir­iusXM Top Comic com­pe­ti­tion. She knew ex­actly what set she wanted to do—it was her best work. So, she got up on­stage and did seven min­utes about get­ting an abor­tion. It hap­pened to be some of the best, most ex­hil­a­rat­ing standup to come out of Canada in the past few years: smart, fear­less—and hi­lar­i­ous. While Whalen didn’t make it to the fi­nals, her per­for­mance got the sec­ond-high­est num­ber of video views and sparked a lot of con­ver­sa­tions—in­clud­ing this one: »

When did you de­cide to write about your

abor­tion? “I started writ­ing about it as soon as I found out I was preg­nant. It was al­ways such a huge fear of mine, but when it hap­pened, it wasn’t a big deal at all. I just wanted to scream about it every­where at the top of my lungs to show other women that they can stop liv­ing in that fear and shame.” What was the hard­est part of writ­ing this ma­te­rial? “Find­ing a way to ad­dress the dis­com­fort of the au­di­ence and get them on my side.” How did you feel per­form­ing it for the first time? “SO LIB­ER­ATED.” How do au­di­ences re­act? “Loud! Lots of peo­ple clap, some scream and

some gasp and cover their mouths. They al­ways re­coil when I talk about wear­ing my ‘Uh-Oh’ T-shirt to the clinic, and I say ‘Haven’t even started yet and al­ready killin’ it!’ I usu­ally re­coil with them be­fore I move on.” How have your feel­ings about the pro­ce­dure and this rou­tine evolved as you per­form this ma­te­rial more and more? “I felt com­fort­able with the pro­ce­dure from the be­gin­ning, but I’ve seen other peo­ple’s feel­ings about it evolve as I per­form this ma­te­rial, in­clud­ing my fam­ily’s. I never ex­pected them to be so proud of me for hav­ing an abor­tion! I used to worry es­pe­cially about the re­ac­tions of peo­ple in my par­ents’

gen­er­a­tion and older, but they seem to ap­pre­ci­ate it the most.”

What were the re­ac­tions on­line? “I was wor­ried about what peo­ple would say with their shield of anonymity, but most of the re­ac­tions were over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive. I en­gaged with a few of the neg­a­tive com­ments, and ev­ery per­son I in­ter­acted with backed down. Even­tu­ally, strangers started de­fend­ing me on their own.” What was your favourite in­ter­ac­tion? “There was a guy on Red­dit who tried to in­sult me by com­par­ing me to Han­nah Gadsby and in­ad­ver­tently gave me the won­der­ful nick­name ‘Abor­tion Bar­bie.’ I love it so much. I had it printed on T-shirts.”

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