14 Questions With : Heather Jordan Ross, Canadian stand-up comic
Updated on: 13 Jun 2016
Rape jokes aren't acceptable. Except, they can be - if they punch up to get a positive discussion going. Or, if the person cracking the joke happens to be a rape survivor who's more aware of the reality of the experience, and hence more sensitised to what the joke's purpose should be - to expose, under the headlights of comedy, various forms of rape culture.
Canadian stand-up comic Heather Jordan Ross was acutely aware of all this. About two years back she was sexually assaulted by a co-worker. After almost a year, the person got back in touch with her, wanting to "hang out." The whole thing was hard to deal with obviously, but it also got in the way of her work as a comedian. That's when the idea to start a national comedy tour came up - it would feature comedians who are rape survivors. That's how the show, Rape is Real and Everywhere, started out in Vancouver six months ago.
Heather talked to Catch about what's an acceptable rape joke, why new artists punch down and the need for rape survivors to utilise the stand-up comedy stage more.
Could you tell me a bit about yourself? Were you always a professional stand-up comic?
I started doing stand up while I was studying to be a journalist. I completed an honours degree in journalism in 2012 and worked as a small town news reporter for a year while still doing stand up on the side. In 2013, I decided to move across the country to try being a stand up comedian for real. I've been based in Vancouver for the past three years.
How and when did you decide to form such a collective of survivors?