Critical Writing Index

Not Just for Laughs: Women, Performance, and Humour

by Tanya Mars

Caught In the Act: an anthology of performance art by Canadian women, 2004, p. 20

Toronto: YYZ, 2004

An essay on the use of humour in performance art by Canadian women in the 1970s and 1980s. Mars questions the general assumption that extreme masochistic perfomance art was the only serious way of tackling feminist issues in performance. The notion of humour as an equally effective and respectable tool in perfomance art by women is introduced and argued for.

Humour as just as serious a performance art tool as trauma and the significance of women performance artists who used humour in the 70s and 80s is reinforced, when back then it was seen as the "lesser" form of art, and its artists as just "entertainers" rather than artists. Humour is argued to be an effective tool to entertain, escape, subvert, and establish solidarity among people.

Selected works by Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan, the Clichettes and Colette Urban, among others are discussed.

ITEM 2004.067 – available for viewing in the Research Centre

Videos, Artworks and Artists Cited

Mary MedusaShawna Dempsey

Mary MedusaLorri Millan

various works citedShawna Dempsey

various works citedLorri Millan

Go to HellJohanna Householder (the Clichettes)

Go to HellJanice Hladki (the Clichettes)

Go to HellLouise Garfield (the Clichettes)

various works citedJohanna Householder (the Clichettes)

various works citedJanice Hladki (the Clichettes)

various works citedLouise Garfield (the Clichettes)

various works citedDeanne Taylor (The Hummer Sisters)

various works citedJanet Burke (The Hummer Sisters)

various works citedJenny Dean (The Hummer Sisters)

various works citedAnna Banana

various works citedColette Urban