By Frankc Berlanga-Medina
When it comes to the subject of sex, relationships and amorous conquests, if we can be honest about it, there exists a double standard that favors men as the kings of comedic raunchiness. Lately, women have been expanding their claim in that area of comedy. They can now say that a niche has been allotted to them by the sheer genius of some like Sarah Silverman, who has proudly provided a national spotlight on the ability of female comedians.
At a local level, we see the return of a brilliant performer, Echo Sunyata Sibley, who studied and taught at the UofA for 15 years. After receiving her Masters in Vocal Performance in 2005 and her MFA in Acting in 2012, Ms. Sibley moved to Italy to sing Jazz, Opera, Musical Theatre and to be an actress.
While there, she participated in The Crisis Art Festival in Tuscany, with performers from all over the world. To her surprise, her one woman show was a huge success at the festival and she realized that her comedy connected with an international audience. This gave her the courage to begin pursuing a U.S. tour.
This January she started that tour by making a stop in Chicago, where she performed in 3 comedy showcases, as a special featured guest, and the biggest sketch comedy festival in the United States. Performing alongside some pretty big name comedians, such as Danny Pudi from Community, Ms. Sibley’s first show was sold out and she received professional validation that her show would be well received as she continued her U.S. tour.
As for the show itself, it is written and performed entirely by Ms. Sibley, and is a self-described “SNL-esque show where I can lightly address the topics of sex, relationships, and the bad decisions we women make in the search for perfect, fairytale love. Because of the social pressure we face to be in a meaningful relationship by a certain age, sometimes we compromise our standards to do so.” As a self-professed serial monogamist, Ms. Sibley realized that her own dating history and the stories of her friends provided endless material for her show. After meeting her husband, she needed to process her painful, yet hilarious, dating history and she wanted to make people laugh while also reminding them that sometimes being alone is better than being in a series of bad relationships that leave them drained and damaged.
Being that the show does revolve around the subject of sex and relationships, Ms. Sibley admits that it is a “risqué show, but I stand by my content and my humor; unashamed and proud that I have control over my own body and choices, as well as what makes me laugh.” She hopes that her comedy “shows a woman’s point of view and speaks about sex frankly and in a way that is usually reserved for men. I think women need to be able to talk about their sexuality and their kinkiness without feeling dirty.” With the goal of making “people laugh to the point where they almost pee their pants but then they go home to talk about what they saw.” She also wants “to break the stereotype that women lack sexuality. They are just as sexual as men, if not more so!”
But don’t worry fellas, there are things for you to take away from this show that is constructed with satire, parodies and includes musical performances on the ukulele, which earns her cool points in my humble opinion. A man came up to Ms. Sibley after a show in Chicago with his girlfriend, he said, “I laughed and learned a lot!” The show also includes sketches that address relationships from a lesbian’s/bisexual’s perspective so that it is truly inclusive of all women’s points of view.
Coming full circle to the area she called home for 20 years, Ms. Sibley is bringing her U.S. tour to the Northwest Arkansas region. Excited to share her craft and her message, she expressed that it’ll be fun to return to the Fayetteville area, a place she still feels is home. With a component of improvisation, the freedom to react and interact with her audience and to deviate from the script when she wants to, should make seeing the show performed live an experience.
In Fayetteville, Ms. Sibley will be at the Stolen Glass, at 8 p.m. on Feb. 9 and 10. It will be 21 and up $10, and $7 for students. She will also be in Eureka Springs at the Caribe Restaurant and Cantina on Feb. 14 with a happy hour from 5-7 p.m. and free show at 8 p.m.