VanCityBuzz Covers Say Wha?!

 VanCityBuzz recently covered a Say Wha?! show. Read their original post HERE. Or see check out my repost below.

Say Wha?! slams badly written books with comedic flair

Sara Bynoe by Kathryn Mussallem

“Say Wha?! Readings of Deliciously Rotten Writing” takes a new spin on your traditional comedy night out, which is welcome news for those getting sick of the usual players and show format.

Instead of relying on the performer to come up with a 100% original act, “Say Wha?!” is based around “readings of deliciously rotten writings.” On the night I dropped in at Main Street’s Cottage Bistro, the ‘education’ lineup included a 1960s swingers advice book, two Twilight rip-offs, a former Wheel of Fortune model’s personal memoir and a local B.C. teacher’s tell-all on her real-life affair with an underage student.

Image: Kathryn Mussallem

Golden material aside, Say Wha?! relies on the interplay between book and performer, in a novel way that leaves most of the frat boy humour at home. Audience participation is just as important, cries of “say wha?!” goading the performers onto new highs (or lows). The night pokes fun at the pitfalls of dime-a-dozen paperbacks (or is it $4.99 red-sticker discount books? What is the going rate for bargain bin fodder nowadays?) – bad writing, continuity errors, author pseudonyms and blatant copycatting. Say Wha?! mimics the commentary in your head of that ill-considered vacation read, putting badly-written yarns under the close scrutiny of sharp-witted comedians.

Image: Kathryn Mussallem

The performers couldn’t have been any more different, and this is the great levelling effect of the night. No matter how big (or modest) the name, everyone starts off on the same foot – a novel, a microphone, and an appreciative audience. At $10 at the door, Say Wha?! is a steal for a great night out.


More information here.

Disclaimer: Vancity Buzz’s Jon Keller, was one of the performers at this particular edition of Say Wha?!

Laugh Track

Cartoon Sara by Serena Chan

More media whoring! I was lucky enough to be interviewed by The Peak and got this lovely drawing as a bonus! I love it so much! 

Interview by Jacey Gibb, Illustration by Serena Chen, Original Posting on The Peak

Join The Peak as we catch up with and interview some of Vancouver’s finest funny people.

Even if the name doesn’t ring a bell, you’ve undoubtedly heard of something Sara Bynoe’s had a part in. The Vancouver comedian has been hosting shows for 15 years — from Say Wha?!, where people take turns reading from humorously awful, surprisingly real books, to her new monthly show Novelty Act, co-hosted by Riel Hahn. The Peak caught up with Bynoe to talk about the local comedy scene, dolphin lovers from the ‘70s, and why she thinks people shouldn’t take themselves so seriously.

[Interview has been edited and condensed for print]

Your website says you’re an “Actor, Writer, Producer of Fun Times.” Was your plan always to be this multifaceted?

When I was 14, of course my plan was to be like Winona Ryder and just do feminist movies. I remember having a dream when I was little about being at the Academy Awards and she’s behind me being like, “Good job!” The other story I always tell is from when I was 10 years old, my mom had this psychic friend and she said, “You’re going to be an actor and a writer,” and I was like, “Yeah, that’s what I want to be.” So I’ve been pretty clear for a long time that I wanted to go that route.

How would you describe the comedy scene in Vancouver?

It’s super fun, very integrated. There are lots of people doing stuff and the people who are super active are doing stuff in different facets, whether they’re doing stand-up, they’re doing improv, they’re doing my weird shows, they’re doing podcasts. We’re all guests on each other’s shows at some point or another.

Are there any recurring themes in your comedy? Cringe-worthiness seems to play a prominent role inTeen Angst and Say Wha?!

A lot of the books from Say Wha?! that I make fun of, someone thought this was serious. Someone wrote a dating book on how to pick up topless dancers. People reading this are earnest and think they should date a stripper. Same with Teen Angst, these moments when the world was out to get you and everything was so important. It’s like, hold up, take a step away from yourself for a second, and if you can find a way to laugh at yourself.

Have any of the writers ever found out that you read their book at Say Wha?!

This guy wrote a book called Wet Goddess: Recollections of a Dolphin Lover, which is a fictionalized memoir of his time in the ’70s having a relationship with a dolphin named Ruby. He must have had a Google alert on the book and he commented on our video and said, “Oh, I didn’t realize this was so unintentionally hilarious.” You wrote a book about fucking a dolphin. How can you not have a sense of humour about yourself?!

What has been your favourite project over the years?

Teen Angst is the longest running. That’s the show that won’t die. As long as people are having fun and wanting to read, I have fun doing it. It’s one of those things where I’ve been making fun of my teen angst longer than I was a teenager. But I love it. I’m really enjoying Novelty Act now. That’s a huge risk; it’s me and Riel Hahn, and we haven’t performed a lot together. This is my first time duo-ing with someone on a regular basis. It’s really exciting to get to understand a performer’s dynamic like that.

This month marks the fifth instalment of Novelty Act. How did the show get its start?

Riel and I were looking to have a show together and we were like, “Should we have guests? Let’s just try it by ourselves,” and to me that was a huge risk. Two hours, just me, and no gimmicks?! Riel was very trusting and thought we could do it though.

The name came from an encounter with a stand-up comedian who invited us to stay for a show and Riel asked who was on it and he was like “Dude, dude, dude, dude, dude.” That’s a lot of dudes, I don’t know if I’m into that. A lot of women I know aren’t into seeing comedy shows with all dudes. The Novelty Act name sort of evolved from that, where he’s like “Well, I wouldn’t have a lot of magicians on a show, so there are only a couple of women that I would want to have on my show,” and Riel’s response was “Wait, are you saying that women are a novelty act?” And he said yeah.

I don’t think he was really aware of what he was saying though. Riel said, “Let’s do a show with just us and call it Novelty Act.”

It sounds like Novelty Act is pretty unstructured. Do you ever have a set plan for the evening?

We have segments. We start with a check-in where we talk about funny or just weird things that have happened in our lives. Then we have question period with the audience, whether they’re questions about what we’ve been talking about or you have questions about your life and want advice.

They can be totally random. One time, a guy had been stood up on a date and he’s like, “What’s with people in Vancouver being super flaky?” and so we all talked about that. His next question was “Can I buy everyone a round of drinks?” He bought two bottles of champagne and cake that was cut up into little pieces and so we had cake and champagne. Amazing stuff happens at this night, I have no idea what we’re doing that’s creating this environment where people just feel inspired to buy everyone champagne.

The second half is usually more structured, we do some improv games. It really involves the audience. The whole evening, people have said it feels like a super-fun party hosted by your funniest friends.

Any closing remarks?

Get off your ass and come to more shows in Vancouver. You will have fun.

Your next chances to catch Sara Bynoe are on May 26 at The Emerald (555 Gore Avenue, Vancouver) for Novelty Act or on June 7 at Cottage Bistro (4468 Main Street, Vancouver) for Say Wha?! Tickets for either are $10 at the door.

CFOX Says “Teen Angst Night is a good time”

Last night was Teen Angst Night; my long running show where people read from their melodramatic teenage diaries/ poetry collections and more.

The show was great with lots of new and new-ish people sharing text that hadn’t seen the light of day for years. Jeremy Baker from CFOX attended and talked about the show on the radio today. Have a listen:

Here are some of last night’s gems in tweet form:

Apparently hard-ons were a theme.

The next Teen Angst Night is July 7.

BeatRoute Wrote About Me. Does This Make Me Cool Now?

BeatRoute

BeatRoute Magazine is a monthly arts and entertainment paper with a predominant focus on music – local, independent or otherwise based in the West Coast and last week they published an article about me. Wha?! For reals.

Before they realize their mistake I’ve copied it for my records in this post, but you can read the original post HERE.

Multidisciplinary comedian Sara Bynoe is more than just a ‘Novelty Act’

Monday 27th, April 2015 / 16:48

By Gabriel Laubach

VANCOUVER — As much as Princess Diana was the Queen of Hearts, Sara Bynoe is the Queen of the Arts. In the way that Diana brought attention to humanitarian causes and was a bridge between the elite and the less fortunate, Bynoe brings attention to the arts and is a bridge between all different facets of the arts community. She is woman that cannot be pigeon-holed as one dimensional or singularly as an actor, writer, producer or performer; as she embodies all of them. It was spoken into her life at a young age of what she was to become, “I remember when I was 10 years old my mom had kind of like new-agey friends and one of them was a palm reader and she read my palm and she’s like ‘You are gonna be an actor and a writer,’ and I was like ‘Yah! Good, that’s what I wanna be!’” As a teenager growing up in Calgary, Bynoe was involved in the all ages punk-rock community and could be found selling homemade zines at local shows; this was the first public display of her art. When asked what inspires her to perform, Bynoe said that she has always had a voice and that she has wanted to engage people with it; she also likes to be silly. In combining those attributes, you arrive at great the great live shows she’s produced and preformed in such as the Teen Angst Night, Say Wha?!, and Sparkle Bunny: The Last Raver Dancing. The first in the aforementioned list helped put Bynoe on the comedy map, the show has been running for 15 years and even spawned into a well-regarded book, “Teen Angst: A Celebration of Really Bad Poetry.”

The Teen Angst Night was Bynoe’s inaugural step into performance art, the whole idea for the show began when she discovered a binder full to the brim with bad poetry that had belonged to her ex-boyfriend. Her response was to share her own poetry from those emotionally confusing and loathsome years that we have all stumbled our way through. Sure enough, the piece connected with the masses and received a warm reception. The day we spoke with Bynoe she was amidst orchestrating her newest piece, “Novelty Act.” This new show features Bynoe and Riel Hahn exploring comedic performance that is both scripted and spontaneous interaction with the audience; Bynoe essentially put it as “an evening with two funny ladies.” The title “Novelty Act,” arose from a discussion Riel had had with a male comedian friend, “whom is a decent human,” in Bynoe’s words, who curates a stand-up comedy night that rarely books women. When confronted as to why he doesn’t book more than a few women he preceded to state “he wouldn’t book a whole bunch of jugglers on one show,” to which Riel asked, “Are you equating women to novelty acts?”

As Vancouverites we can all agree our city is cold and not only in the temperate sense. Bynoe truly believes, “Vancouver needs more opportunities for people to connect,” and “Novelty Act” strives to create a place for that to happen. Apparently it is not a show for the faint of heart, “If you are someone who is willing to take a risk, that’s what our show is. It’s a little risky, we don’t always know what it’s going to be.” There will be a section called “Question Period,” where audience members will be able to ask any question or advice on anything from deep relationship issues to which way the toilet roll is meant to roll – “it’s over,” Bynoe asserts. So make sure to bring your sense of humor, an open heart and your “party-pants.” With a goal of creating community through comedic performance, Sara Bynoe is a Queen of Arts whose policies have us swearing to the throne. Long live laughter!

You can see Sara Bynoe’s Teen Angst Karaoke Night at Hot Art Wet City on May 5, and Teen Angst Night at Cottage Bistro on May 19.

Discorder Magazine Interview

Get the April edition of Disorder Magazine for the paper version of this interview with me. Or check out their handy dandy PDF version. 

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Note: This article seems to imply that I started Dance Dance Party Party, I did not. It was started in 2007 in NYC. I started the Vancouver Chapter in 2008.

How to be a Media Whore

Look at this dumb stock photo girl. She'll probably never be a real media whore because she doesn't know how to write a proper press release. Oh well, so long as she gets out of a car commando-style she'll have half a chance.

Over the years I’ve accumulated a good stack of press clippings; newspaper articles, radio interviews, Breakfast Television appearances, magazine mentions, and blog links. You could say I’m lucky or you could say I know how to work it.

For this week’s Story Time Tuesday, I’m not going to tell you a story, I’m going to give you some pointers on how to get attention for your events and even your name in the paper. It’s as easy as … not being an idiot.

1. Write a press release. Sounds silly, but you would not believe the amount of people that have asked me, ‘How do you always get your events featured in the paper?’ When I tell them I sent a press release they look at me like I just asked them what is the square root of infinity.

The job of the press release is to make the busy reporter’s job easier. Write a good hook for the event about why what you’re doing is interesting or important now. Then tell them all the who, what, where, when and how much. Don’t forget to include your contact info so they can book you for an interview. Keep it short and punchy and send it at least three weeks before the show.

2. Have a good idea. That’s the tricky part. The things that I get press on are things that no one else is doing. Teen Angst – totally started that myself. Sparkle Bunny- I was the only person doing a play about a forgotten 90s trend in 2005. Dance Dance Party Party VanCity – it’s got so many spins an editor can put on it you’d think it was a fly-girl. Say Wha?! (happening this Tuesday July 20) okay, I’m not the first person to make fun of bad writing, but I’m probably the first person in town to program a night dedicated to it who sent out a decent press release and awesomesauce poster to go with it.

3. Take pictures! Never underestimate the power of a good colour high resolution photograph. I spent decent money on my photographers for my Sparkle Bunny and F*ck Off and Die‘s promo pics and many of my shots appeared in local papers. Sparkle Bunny was even the cover of the Georgia Straight’s fringe pull out, probably because it was a tall, colourful photo with the perfect amount of negative space.

When choosing your photos don’t just pick them with your own vanity in mind, put yourself in the shoes of an editor. What is the most interesting, attention grabbing, clean photograph? That’s the one that will get used.

4. Spread the word. Spread it like a disease; like swine flu. It took me three years of hard viral marketing, spamming, e-mailing and press releasing before I got the attention of an editor at Random House who messaged me to say, “This TeenAngstPoetry.com website of yours would make a good book.” And I completely agreed.

5. Make friends with the press. How do you do that? Be reliable. Be ready at the drop of a hat. Be persistent but not annoying. Don’t piss off the listings editor by e-mailing them every day to double check that they got your event. Send it once, relax and let them do their job. (Thank you event listings editors!)

Granted, I could go a lot further. I’m no media whore like the way Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian and Courtney Love are. Our goals are different. Some people want to be famous for being famous. Me, my goal is for people to come to my events and have a good time. Hopefully they’ll throw in a little respect because  no matter how silly my events may seem I take this all seriously. But serious in the most fun way possible.

Randomness

I have no idea how this happened but I got an e-mail from National Public Radio (USA) yesterday to confirm if a poem from my book ‘fuck off and die’ was mine because they were going to read it on air. .. um that’s not my book title… it’s my solo show. The title or words in the poem they were using were not mentioned in the e-mail.

I wondered: How did they know about me? How did they get my Teen Angst book and my solo show mixed up? Did they see the show? Hmmmm.

This is the mention (with the correct pronunciation of my name- yay!) : http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99213307

When I listened, it sounded familiar but I didn’t remember publishing those words- not even online. Then it took me forever to figure out where I wrote those words.

It was here: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=e81369ac-ccf4-45dc-94df-55f0c9bfe714

Tres bizarre- how did they every come across that? It’s quite the obscure reference.

Oh well. It’s a great program and I’m honored to be mentioned on it, even quoted. But I still can’t figure out how they came across that.