'3ft 6in of hilarious, inspirational, menopausal Canadian' | Kate Copstick champions Tanyalee Davis as she starts her UK tour

'3ft 6in of hilarious, inspirational, menopausal Canadian'

Kate Copstick champions Tanyalee Davis as she starts her UK tour

Once upon a time alternative comedy was angry young(ish) men in clubs that smelt of beer and intellectualised disaffection. I liked it then.

But soon the twin scents of wealth and fame were in its nostrils and the first wave of  'alternative' comedy superstars were taking centre stage, under the feared banner of comedy's own Lord Voldemort or his sworn comedy enemy, Del Boy (if you know, you know).

There was a clear division. Those comics with management and those without. It was understood that you had to have a pretty reasonable career in hand before you needed someone else to manage it. And that was great. Clubs were healthy, comedy, as a career, had a trajectory and was reasonably clear of those who do not do, but make a living out of other people doing.

Then somewhere along the way, comics with barely a decent ten minutes to their names decided that they needed management, and promotion and 'people'.

You can see it in recent years – those who end up with more people in their 'team' at the Fringe than they get in their audiences. The knock-on effects of which I would love to go into at some other date, but none of them is good.

We are mired in a comedy industry in which there is too much industry and not enough good comedy.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel. And it is not an oncoming HS2

You might have seen it if you have been to see any of the shows by Luisa Omelian or Paulus Martin. Martin's homage to Victoria Wood, Lookin' For Me Friend, is practically a national institution and 100 per cent Martin. He even designs his own merch!

Luisa Omelian is currently touring Bitter, the latest in a line of  extraordinary shows that have garnered rapturous acclaim with zero outside management. If ever there was proof that the comedy industry really doesn't  know a good thing when it sees one, it is Luisa.

Now womanhood's answer to the question ‘is Jason John Whitehead the only funny Canadian ginger?’,  TanyaLee Davis, is joining the self-believing, hands-on, self-promoting Inspirational Indies of Entertainment.

Just in case you have somehow missed her gigs here, her star-spangled Edinburgh shows (Big Trouble in Little 'Gina, anyone?) or her ultra-sociability on social media, I ask her to tell you a little about herself.

We manage to edit it down to: ‘34 years in comedy, a university degree in sociology,  travelled around the world,  performed in laundromats, cafeterias, tropical islands, military bases, castles, and on mountaintops. I’ve been parasailing, horseback riding, scuba diving in four countries, got my name and pic on the wall of the world famous Comedy Store in Hollywood with some of the greatest comedians of all time. I've got the Unstoppable Me documentary now streaming and I’m currently the  Guinness World Record holder for the world's shortest comedian.’

It is the whole 'being short' thing, and, more specifically, UK people's attitude to it that really got her sparked up this time and, eventually, ended up with her doing this tour

‘The UK beat me down and I had not realised it,’ she says.  ‘Being told I couldn’t do this , "cos you’re disabled" or can't go there "cos you’re disabled". Every single day I was told for one reason or another, that I was disabled. Upon reflection, I realised I wasn’t disabled, just the people and the infrastructure made me FEEL disabled.’

So now, having not just decided she is not disabled but absolutely Unstoppable, Tanyalee is bringing her first national tour to the UK to put  our negative attitudes to rights.

‘My UK fanbase is significant via my social media so I figured this is my time,’ she says. ‘I’ve established many great relationships with bookers in the 20 years since I started touring over there.

‘I ran into Scottish comedian Billy Kirkwood in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, in September 2023. We talked about me doing the Glasgow Comedy Festival. He introduced me to the festival director via email and we locked in a date so I decided to build around it.

Time to get up close and personal with the nega-Brits ? ‘I had learned a lot about myself based on the questions people in the UK ask me online … "Tanyalee what are your problems?", "What are your challenges?"  "What can’t you do?"   I’m like "Why do we want to talk about what I can’t do when I can and have done so many amazing things?" (see above!)

‘Being an Unstoppable Me is a mindset, a belief system. It’s not letting your size, height, weight, gender, religion, disability, planetary affiliation define who you are. People need to focus on what they CAN do instead of what they CAN'T do. Believe it and you can achieve it.  Having a sense of humour when life throws shit at you is KEY.

‘I’ve realised I’m a story teller and I have 53 years of life experience. Enough with the victim mentality which is so common, mostly amongst the younger generation. They make excuses for why they can’t achieve. I say … look at me! I am living proof.

‘I was depressed and anxious. Now I've realised we have the ability to help ourselves. No pharmaceutical company, or cosmetic procedures on the outside will fix your insides.

‘Younger people are growing up with nothing but social media. They want the likes and follows. They are looking for validation from strangers which messes up their emotions and confidence.

‘At the end of the day people need to realise you need to like yourself and follow your own path. I’m so comfortable and confident at where I am in life right now that I can handle the abuse that comes with an online presence.

‘I’ve been bullied to my face so this online shit is a piece of cake becauseI don't need validation from strangers. That’s the great thing about getting older. Your "Give AF" button breaks.

‘When it comes to online bullying, you want people to comment because it pushes the algorithm. The algorithms don’t know if the comments are good or bad so I tell people if someone says something mean, give it a like and then comment "Thank you for the engagement" because at the end of the day they are just pushing my content, so I win.’

So your audiences can expect what … other than it will be funny, because you are you, and it will be unstoppable, because you are Unstoppable Me?

‘In the last year no one show has been the same. With my menopause brain fog,  I go off on tangents and swap out stories. I feel like I did stand-up for 30 years and for the last three years I have found the comfort of storytelling.’

So if 3ft 6in of unstoppably hilarious, inspirational, menopausal Canadian sound like your bag, her tour dates are here.

And here’s a trailer for Joe Bor's great documentary on Tanyalee and her Unstoppable Me campaign, which is streaming here at £3.50 to rent or £6 to buy.

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Published: 27 Feb 2024

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