Quebec Comedy Club Books A.I.-Generated Female Comic in Response to Misogyny Claims

Quebec Comedy Club Books A.I.-Generated Female Comic in Response to Misogyny Claims

To be fair, it does make it a lot harder for French Canadian men to harass a woman if she doesn’t exist.

It’s not exactly news that, generally speaking, stand-up comedy is a male-dominated field. Though the history of humor is filled with female artists who stood up to sexism and made their mark on the medium, on any given night at any given comedy club, there’s going to be a lot of dude’s names on the marquee. While most non-neckbeards already know this to be true of American comedy, it may surprise some to learn that misogyny in stand-up spans across language barriers all the way into the frozen French territory of Quebec.

When a pair of Montreal comics decided to call out comedy clubs for failing to book even a single woman on their shows, the owner of one oft offending venue decided to solve the problem of a lack of women at his club by doing what American schoolchildren lacking girlfriends have been doing to Canadian women for years – he made one up.

Last year, stand-up comics Emna Achour and Coralie LaPerrière started an Instagram account called “Pas de fille sur le pacing,” which translates to “No girls in the lineup.” "We did it as an answer to us being told that we exaggerate when we say, 'it's a problem guys, let's try to book more women,'" Achour told CBC, “and people are like 'no, it doesn't happen that often,' so we started this page to be like, 'here are the receipts.'” On the page, Achour and LaPerrière post line-ups from shows across French Canada listing exclusively male performers as a way to call out clubs and show organizers for perpetuating the “boys club” of comedy. One of the worst offenders is Le Troquet in Gatineau, owned and operated by Éric Gaudreault, who we choose to visualize as Pepé Le Pew.

After his club was featured on “Pas de fille sur le pacing” numerous times, Gaudreault started to put out show posters featuring one Sonia Bélanger in the line-up – in fact, every show had Sonia Bélanger. Upon learning that a female Quebecois unknown to them was suddenly headlining one of the province’s most misogynistic theaters, Achour and LaPerrière did some digging to discover that Sonia Bélanger doesn’t exist – Gaudreault drew up her image using A.I. tools and put her name in every line-up just to get Achour and LaPerrière off his back, because, as is likely true in his sex life, he’d rather simulate a woman than pay one.

"That page often mentioned us, painted us as misogynists, as if we weren't making any effort," said Gaudreault, angry at the existence of facts and the public’s access to them. "So, in response to their joke of associating us with this type of management, we responded with the joke of creating this comedian from scratch." 

Gaudreault even claimed to be an ally, saying that he is somehow single-handedly "doing more today by getting Quebec talking about this issue" by cheekily refusing to hire women. "Are we going to make more of an effort? No. Are we going to keep trying to help female comedians gain the same prominence as male comedians? Yes, we'll definitely help advance this cause,” Gaudreault added in a claim more oxymoronic than the phrase “Canadian Stanley Cup champions.”

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