Day after day, Anasimone George went off to her interior design classes. And day after day, she hated her life a little bit more. She detested design school but felt obligated—to her family, to her EgyptianCanadian community—to get a degree. Then she flunked out. She got a job working at Starbucks as a supervisor. Loathed that, too. Finally, George says, she knew it was time to turn to her true love: comedy. “I had already failed so much, I literally had nothing to lose.”
Her first few months onstage were rocky. “A lot of my old stuff came from a place of trying to fit in, and a lot of my work reflected a ton of internalized misogyny and racism. And if I ever tried [to discuss these issues], I was deemed ‘the girl who talks about race too much.’ But once I grew out of caring what the white gaze wanted, I figured out my voice.”
There was just one problem: Now that she had something to say, there weren’t many places to say it. Sick of waiting around for bookers to give a queer WOC more stage time, she took matters into her own hands and started a monthly comedy night, SHADE, to showcase people of colour, LGBTQ+ folks and woman-identified and non-binary people. “I wanted to create a home for marginalized performers—and make money and actually pay people,” she says. SHADE sells out every month. George—who hails from Scarborough, Ont., and is just 25—is a raucous, engaging host with a big head of curls, her curves barely contained in hot pants, kneehigh boots, mesh bodysuits and plunging tops that offer a peek at her ornate breastplate tattoo. Pump-up jams blare from the speakers and make it feel less like a standup show and more like a party. George’s confidence is awe-inspiring— and infectious. She remembers one show where a young woman of colour came up to her afterwards and told her that she was so happy to see someone like herself on a stage. “That shit really melts my heart and makes me tear up every time I think about it,” she says.