HOODO HERSI

Fashion (Canada) - - The Market People -

Most peo­ple know that there is some small el­e­ment of risk in choos­ing a front-row seat at a com­edy show. There’s al­ways a chance that the comic might tease you a lit­tle. At a Hoodo Hersi show, how­ever, no one is safe. The Toronto-based co­me­dian, 27, keeps up a run­ning com­men­tary on the au­di­ence’s re­ac­tions to her work. Hersi, for ex­am­ple, will launch into her bit about the Mus­lim ban. “I’m fine with it,” she says. “Like, I want to ban white guys who go to Thai­land.” The laugh­ter crescen­does and then Hersi pauses, a mis­chievous smile on her face. “There’s al­ways one white girl in the au­di­ence who’s like, ‘My dad’s been to Thai­land, like, four times, so this joke is not for me.’”

Hersi fear­lessly tack­les race, reli­gion and gen­der. Or, as she puts it, “all the fun stuff!” Au­di­ences are wild for it. This year alone, she was named a Homegrown Tal­ent at Just for Laughs and taped a per­for­mance that will air on the Com­edy Net­work. She has done CBC tap­ings at the Win­nipeg Com­edy Fes­ti­val and the BBC World Ser­vice Mon­treal com­edy show and was se­lected as an Audi­ble New Voice at SF Sketch­fest. She has also opened for Gina Yashere, Moshe Kasher and Eric An­dre. Once a month, she co-hosts The Ebony Tide, a show­case for co­me­di­ans of colour. “One of the goals is for peo­ple to un­der­stand why terms like ‘black com­edy’ and ‘eth­nic hu­mour’ just don’t make sense,” she ex­plains.

In a com­edy scene of­ten dom­i­nated by white men, it is re­fresh­ing to see a black Mus­lim woman per­form­ing in a hi­jab. Hersi takes the oc­ca­sional cringe-in­duc­ing com­ment and in­cor­po­rates it into her act. She re­mem­bers when a woman told her she was so brave for do­ing what she does, clad in her “Mus­lim garb.” “This is from For­ever 21!” cries Hersi. “I’m cul­tur­ally ap­pro­pri­at­ing my own cul­ture! I’m part of the prob­lem!” The room erupts into laugh­ter, but Hersi is al­ready mov­ing on to the next bit: no hes­i­ta­tion, no apolo­gies. “No segues!” she an­nounces. “Next joke!”

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