A Special Occasion

I think my nose looks good in this sailor suit.

I’m about to do something new. It’s called A Special Occasion. What is it?

* Inspired by salons of the 18th Century this event will educate and entertain.
* It’s an opportunity to wear that thing you’ve been waiting for a special occasion for. For me, that means my sailor outfit. Maybe it’s your tuxedo, or fancy heels, or “I’m off to the races’ hat, or perhaps it’s your super comfy onesie that you really want to wear out of the house but don’t feel comfortable doing that.. Whatever it is, THIS is your excuse. We will not judge.
* It’ll have Comedy, Music, Games, Stories, Discussions, Fun, Food and Drinks.

What inspired this event?

Often I’ll go to a show, sit in a seat and never interact with anyone else in the venue besides the person I cam with. Sure, the show is fun and entertaining but what’s missing from going out is interaction with like-minded people.

Over the past few years there’s been a lot of talk about how it’s hard to meet people in this city. After years producing alternative comedy I’m taking a step in a new direction with this show, sure there’ll still be comedy, fun, and sass but this event aims to make the audience an important part of the evening.

Thursday, October 16
Dinner available from 6:30pm
Show 8-10pm
The Emerald, 555 Gore
$40 with dinner (pris fixe - 4 course meal)
$15 for show only
Advanced tickets available

Who will be performing?

Sara Bynoe will host.


Kris ElgstrandMusic and musings.

Dina Del Bucchia – Poetry, words and sass.


Sara Bynoe speaks with Zach Browman on connection. We’ll get flirting tips and more!

The Venue

The event takes place in the main lounge of The Emerald, a cabaret room, lounge, and bar local on Gore Street. Evoking the spirit of a sophisticated 1960’s Vegas hot spot, this Rat Pack-style setting incorporates ornate crystal chandeliers and mid-century furnishings into the décor, designed to resemble a space and a time that was extinct in Vancouver.

Facebook Event Page

Back in Vancouver, Say Wha?!

Say Wha Facebook Event Image 3

It’s back! Say Wha?! Readings of Deliciously Rotten Writing

Funny people reading from terrible books.

Have you ever read a poorly written novel and thought to yourself, who publishes this crap? Or come across a hilariously out of date self-help book in a thrift store? Perhaps you flipped through any celebrity autobiography and guffawed at her/his life story. Well, that’s what Say Wha?! is all about.


Nicole Passmore
Cameron Macleod
Lauren McGibbon
Chip Ellis

Sunday, September 28 | 8-10PM | The Emerald, 555 Gore | Facebook Event Page | TIckets: $10, cash only at the door or in advance


Pick of the week on BlogTO, Torontoist, CBC Radio Toronto- Here and Now, The Courier, WestEnder, Georgia Straight, Scout Magazine – pretty much any media there is has told you to go to this show.

“I like it when the definition of ‘theatre’ gets stretched. That’s what Sara Bynoe’s doing. … I gut laughed the whole evening. So did the rest of the audience. It was a full house. It always is.” – TJ Dawe, The Charlebois Post

“The Say Wha?! series offers an important and perfectly Canadian contribution to the (Vancouver literary) scene: ‘Quit taking yourselves so seriously.'”- Sean Cranbury, Granville Mag

Now in podcast form:


I’m Alone and No One Understands My Pain

Teen Angst Facebook Event Emerald

Teen Angst Night | Tuesday, September 23 | 8-10pm | $10 | The Emerald – 555 Gore

What’s a Teen Angst Night like?

Adults who can laugh at themselves get up on stage and read diary entries, poems, short stories or sing songs they created when their hormones were high and their hearts were full of angst. You might hear phrases like: “I’m alone and no one understand my pain,” “I will never love again,” or “Whatever, Mom!” It’s an adorable and hilarious show I’ve been producing since 2000. Come down and see why I can’t quit this event.

Here’s a reading from the last time we were at The Emerald – 555 Gore

Tickets on sale now. There might be tickets available at the door, it’s best to buy in advance.

Vancouver, I’m back! Let’s have some fun

Hey Vancouver, I’m back in your fair city. You thought I was gone forever, didn’t you? Well, not quite. Don’t write me off.

I’m back figuring out ma shite and while I’m doing that I’m going to do what I love the most – putting on shows! I hope to see you there. If not, I’ll probably pack up my bags and leave you again. That’s how Canada works, right? You’re never something until you’re something somewhere else.

Teen Angst Facebook Event Emerald


Tuesday, September 23
The Emerald, 555 Gore Street, Vancouver
$10. Eventbrite. Please purchase in advance to avoid disappointment.
Facebook Event

Somewhere in the back of your closet gathering dust and turning yellow with age is comedic gold. Those old journals, poems, and essays you wrote as a teenager when you thought you could do no wrong, would probably make you cringe at your former feelings if you were to read them today. Now, imagine sharing them in front of an audience. That’s exactly what happens at Teen Angst Night.

Teen Angst Night is a comedic reading series, hosted and produced by Sara Bynoe since 2000, where everyday people read from their embarrassing old journals, poems, songs, essays (and more).

You can share anything (poetry, songs, letters, journals, diaries, essays, stories, plays, lists, etc) so long as it follows these rules:

1- The work must be your own.
2- You must have written it between the ages of 10-19.
3- It’s best if the work is at least 4 years old.
4- If you cringe or feel physically upset while reading it- it’s worth sharing! The more embarrassing the better!

Sorry, reader spots are full. Another event will happen again soon. Get in touch if you want to be involved.

Say Wha Facebook Event Image 3


Sunday, September 28
The Emerald, 555 Gore Street, Vancouver
Tickets: $10, cash only at the door
Facebook Event

Funny people read from terrible books.

Have you ever read a poorly written novel and thought to yourself, who publishes this crap? Or come across a hilariously out of date self-help book in a thrift store? Perhaps you flipped through any celebrity autobiography and guffawed at her/his life story. Well, that’s what Say Wha?! is all about.

With readings by moi and
Nicole Passmore
Cameron Macleod
Lauren McGibbon
Chip Ellis


Save Thursday, October 16 in your calendar. I’m working on a special event. It’s something new that I’ve been pondering for over a year. Stay tuned for more info.

Leave a comment. Follow me on Twitter or ‘like’ me on Facebook. Give me attention!

What The F*ck Is Up With That Novel ‘Bear’? Let me tell you


My story with Marian Engel’s book Bear started in late 2012.

As many of you know I’ve been hosting and producing a comedy show called Say Wha?! where funny people read from terrible books since 2010. Sometime in 2012 a fan of the show told me to check out the novellla Bear that had been assigned to her to read at some point in her educational career (I’m hoping first year college and not high school).

My first public reading of Bear at Say Wha?! was in January 2013. I shared the book several times at Say Wha?! shows and other events over the year and eventually podcast of of those readings in early June of 2014 – listen and enjoy it here. This summer the cover image came out of hibernation (see what I did there?) when someone posted it on imgur with the click-bait title “What The Actual F*ck, Canada?!” Then I wrote this article for Hazlitt (see below). About a week later the Globe and Mail covered the novel and even gave a nod to my piece. Then CBC Radio’s Q covered the hubbub the book was getting. Coincidence? Who knows?

The most important thing is that I’ve heard rumblings about the book being rereleased with the original cover art, which means we’re all going to win in the end.

You can read my article below or online at Hazlitt.

There’s More To ‘Bear’ Than Bear Sex

The first thing you need to know about Marian Engel’s 1976 novel Bear is that it is about a woman who has sex with a giant bear. Not a metaphorical, figurative, concept-within-a-creature bear: a real, furry, wild brown bear. There’s more to it than that, but why bury the lead?

The second thing you need to know, however, is that this is not some fringe underground chapbook: it won the Governor General’s award—the highest Canadian honour for the literary arts—in a year in which the jury included Mordecai Richler, Margaret Laurence, and Alice Munro.

We’re talking about Bear right now, though, because someone recently posted its cover and some particularly raunchy sections of the book to Imgur under the title, “WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK,CANADA?” There was even a little boost in e-book sales after the book’s cover—an illustration of a lithe, topless woman with flowing brunette locks being embraced from behind by a bear standing on its hind legs—went viral. It looks like a Harlequin romance novel: ursine Fabio and his eager human companion, lost together, alone in a world that will never understand the depths of their potentially life-threatening interspecies love.

The story, ultimately, is not as sexy as all that, though it’s not without its moments of high erotica. It begins with a librarian named Lou heading to an island in remote northern Ontario to catalogue the library of an estate bequeathed to the institute for which she works, and, as luck would have it, finding a bear living on the property. Their affair truly blossoms two-thirds into the book, though, when, one night, she’s lying by the fire with the bear, feeling incredibly lonely. Overheating, Lou takes off all her clothes and proceeds to “make love to herself,” as women are wont to do. The bear, apparently knowing how to take a hint, starts to lick her—as bears are wont to do.

As the bear begins to survey the landscape, Lou remarks upon his “moley tongue,” which is, “as the cyclopedia says, vertically ridged.” (Ever the librarian, our Lou—her head in the books even as the head of Stephen Colbert’s number one threat to America is between her legs.) After a few laps, Lou begins to emit little horse-like “nickerings,” and goes on to call the episode, on the whole, “warm and good and strange.” This is probably as accurate a description as possible of the experience of reading Bear. It’s remarkably poetic: “Bear,” Engel writes, “take me to the bottom of the ocean with you, bear, swim with me, bear, put your arms around me, enclose me swim, down, down, down, with me.” And, “Bear, I cannot command you to love me, but I think you love me. What I want is for you to continue to be, and to be something to me. No more. Bear.”

As time goes on, Lou realizes she’s in love with the bear. Bear, being a bear, does not reciprocate her feelings. Is there a more total rejection than being turned down by a wild animal? He can’t even get an erection for her, “his prick [not coming] out of his long cartilaginous sheath.” In one desperate moment, Lou pours honey on herself to entice the bear to stay. “Once the honey was gone,” though, “he wandered off, farting and too soon satisfied.” It’s possible to see Lou, who has had bad luck with men in her past, as a stand-in for Engel herself, who was going through a divorce of her own while writing the book, imbuing it with equal parts empowerment and loneliness. Bear is dedicated to “John Rich—who knows how animals think.” John Rich was Engel’s psychotherapist at the time.

As time goes on, Lou realizes she’s in love with the bear. Bear, being a bear, does not reciprocate her feelings. Is there a more total rejection than being turned down by a wild animal?

Canadian Literature is sometimes prematurely marginalized in the minds of readers for its supposed over-reliance on rural narratives and abundance of stories about humans at some sort of critical or bittersweet impasse with nature; imagine a CanLit drinking game in which you have to empty your glass every time you read the words, “the sound of the loon cry.” But Bear subverts the cliché: here, after all, is a woman actually getting down on all fours and presenting herself to an animal, almost as if to say, “You think we love nature? Oh, I’ll show you how much we love nature.”

Bear garnered largely favorable reviews upon its release, finding support among respected writers and editors. As Canadian novelist, playwright, journalist, and fellow GG winner Robertson Davies wrote in a letter to Engel: “I’m fearful that the book might not be taken as seriously as it is intended and that you might be exposed to comment and criticism of a kind which, in the long run might not be helpful to you.” Considering the context of the book’s current moment of Internet fame, it’s tough to argue with Davies’ assessment. One notable pan at the time came courtesy of the critic Scott Symons, though, who, in his West Coast Review essay “The Canadian Bestiary: Ongoing Literary Depravity,” called the book “spiritual gangrene… a Faustian compact with the Devil.”

But if the book were all bear-on-broad action, it wouldn’t have the resonance it does today. It’s not simply a bizarre bestial farce; it’s a modern Canadian fable, an ironic play on romantic pastorals, and, above all, totally readable. Margaret Laurence wrote in praise of the book, calling it “fascinating and profound… [a] moving journey toward inner freedom, strength, and ultimately toward a sense of communion with all living creatures.” It won the Governor General’s award because of the strength of its writing, and because it challenges the reader as much as it strikes an emotional chord. It was published towards the tail end of second-wave feminism in North America, as women’s sexual empowerment was being pushed to the foreground; it wasn’t just gonzo—it was the zeitgeist. Recently, author Andrew Pyper wrote a defence of Bearrecommending it to readers “not because it’s a feather ruffler of a book … [but] because it brings something to the conversation that wouldn’t be spoken if we didn’t read it, if we kept things strictly appropriate. Bear is brave. We should be too.”

The book was far from Engel’s only significant contribution to CanLit. None of her other novels were quite as noticed or acclaimed, but the small group of Toronto writers that organized the Writer’s Union of Canada did so on her front porch in 1972; she was elected chair at its formation, and spearheaded the Public Lending Rights, which gave authors and editors payment for their titles in library circulation.

Engel died in 1985; we’ll never know how she might have felt about her sudden burst of Internet fame, four decades after the fact. But her place in history is secure: a friend to publishing, an award-winner alongside the authors of The Diviners, The English Patient,and The Stone Diaries, and a woman who, one day in the tumultuous 1970s, sat down, and, with full command of her craft, wrote of a lonely librarian in love with a bear: “She cradled his big, furry, asymmetrical balls in her hands.”

Summer Say Wha?! Recaps


Summer is over and I neglected to post about the two wonderful Say Wha?! shows I produced in Toronto at Comedy Bar. Oops.

Here’s what happened.

June14 Say WhaConsidering that it was Father’s Day and the season finale of Game of Thrones it was pretty amazing that anyone showed up for this event. I was lucky enough to have an audience of more than 50% at The Comedy Bar on Sunday, June 16. I’ll credit that to places like Blog TO, the Torontoist and others adding this event to their Picks of the Week lists. Yay!

Featured readers were:

Chris Wilson – The Marshal’s Witness by Lena Diaz

Kyle Bottom – Happy Cat, Happy You by Aiden Moore

Craig Anderson – Red Rabbit by Tom Clancy

Teddy Kellogg – A book his friend wrote that shall not be named online

Amanda Brook Perrin – Breathe by Abbi Glines

Sara Bynoe – hosted

This show was so much fun. Not only did several blogs and magazines make it a recommended event but I was brought into CBC Radio to appear on Here and Now, the afternoon show in Toronto. Suffice it to say, the house was packed and I was thrilled with the show.

Here’s what was read by whom on Thursday, August 7, 2014.

Anders Yates – Delta Search by William Shatner

Lauren Prussky – Afterlives of the Rich and Famous by Silvia Brown

Erin Rodgers – Those Who Trespass by Bill O’Riley

Sara Bynoe – The Book That Shall Not Be Named by Some Person (TOP SECRET READING – if you know or can guess what book I read please don’t let the secret out. I like living.)

When’s the next show? I’m hoping to confirm that in the next week. When it the next podcast? Yeah, yeah, I neglected to update that this summer too. I hope to have another episode out in the next two weeks.


I’m back in Vancouver for the time being and have so much to catch up on. Stay tuned!

Want more frequent updates? Follow me on Twitter or Instagram. 

Say Wha?! Toronto Edition No. 3



THIS IS HAPPENING SO SOON! Are you excited? I’m excited! It’s time to tell your friends!

What, you want to know what is this all about?

Have you ever read a poorly written novel and thought to yourself, who publishes this crap? Or come across a hilariously out of date self-help book in a thrift store? Perhaps you flipped through any celebrity autobiography and guffawed at her/his life story. Well, that’s what Say Wha?! is all about.

Funny people reading from terrible books.

Hosted by Sara Bynoe – “One of Vancouver’s most hilarious people” – WE | The Westender

Featuring readings by:

Erin Rodgers (Awkward show)
Lauren Prussky (Dawn Patrol)
Anders Yates (Bad Dog/Uncalled For)

Tickets: $10

Thursday, August 7 | 8 PM | Comedy Bar, 945 Bloor Street West | Facebook Event | Twitter #SayWhaShow

Now in podcast form:


Toronto Observations – Part 2

I’m still alive in the big smoke! And I’m no longer living with cats!! I’m so excited to not have hair all over my clothing or being woken up by random mewing. Although it was really cute when the scaredy cat finally warmed up to me (before she decided to sleep on my chest every night).

So, what’s been going on?

Well, I was hanging out in Trinity Bellwoods Park, as all semi-employed artists do, and a butterfly landed on me. Then it flew away. Then it flew back and landed on me again. This happened two more times. Basically, it was my longest relationship in years.

Plus, it means good luck, right? Or is that getting pooped on by a bird, because that happened too.

One thing I’ve noticed about Toronto is there are a heck of a lot of psychics with storefront businesses. I haven’t looked into this too much but it’s kinda neat. Mostly in the sense that so many of them can pay their rent. Then again, they could be the Toronto equivalent to Vancouver’s ‘late night massage parlours.’

I was lucky enough to go to a TIFF screening of Boyhood, Richard Linklater’s new film – the guy that did Dazed and Confused and those Ethan Hawk walking around Europe movies. Check out the trailor for it here. It’s a great film. Great meaning I balled my eyes out at the end.

Here’s my real observation. Segways are to Toronto what unicycles are to Vancouver. They haunt me and apparently, I’m the only one of my friends here that sees these things all the freakin’ time!

Now, how are you doing?


SayWhaPoster2014I CAN’T EVEN!

THIS POSTER IS THE MOST INCREDIBLE, BEAUTIFUL, PERFECT POSTER I’VE EVER HAD FOR A SHOW. (Ok, I loved my solo show F.O.A.D.’s poster – here’s part of it)

It perfectly sums up Say Wha?! The show I host and produce where funny people read from terrible/crazy/silly/incredibly weird books.


Facebook Event


Find out more about the show