Herbeaver’s Guide To Life, Liberty & Butt Sugar

Herbeaver is a HILARIOUS all-female sketch-comedy troupe composed of Heather Gallant, Mallory Morgan, and Katie Preston. Ranging from total absurdity to calculated social commentary, they poke fun at our world using musical comedy, satire, and hijinks, all with a fast-paced, feminist bent. 

They’re performing this year as part of Fringe Toronto from July 4 to 13. We caught up with them this week. 

SDTC: Describe your dream vacation/getaway scenario:

MM: Dogs, endless wine & charcuterie, and sunshine at a cottage with my favourite people.

HG: A bougie friends cottage trip on the water complete with an on-site personal chef and bartender.

KP: Free booze and watching TLC (Say Yes to the Dress, baby!)

Who/what is commanding a lot of attention in your life lately?

MM: The Weather Network.

HG: My sister often commands a lot of my attention because she is very “drama.” Producing comedy also demands a lot of my attention because it’s a ton of work. Not only is it a lot of work to put a show together every month, but to constantly be promoting on social media and saying yes to as many other performance opportunities as possible.

KP: I’m happy to say comedy! We have been so busy with writing new shows and traveling all over to perform. It’s been such a joy! Oh, and I can’t forget about my cat, Kevin. He’s needy AF.

What have you learned about yourself in the past year?

MM: I’m a bit of a badass.

HG: I’ve learned that I’ve spent too much time trying to be the person I think everyone wants me to be. Discovering who I am and learning to love that person has been extremely rewarding.

KP: I am resilient.  

One fun little-known fact about you?

MM: When I was thirteen I played the bass in an all-girl band that basically only played Led Zeppelin covers. I still love Led Zeppelin.

HG: I can be very clumsy. I fall down in public more than your average toddler or elderly person.

KP: In very high-stress moments, I dry heave. It seems funny, but it’s truly embarrassing.

What book/film/show have you really connected with recently, and what about it appeals to you?

MM: Does a podcast count? If so, Jenson & Holes: The Murder Squad. It’s a true crime podcast where a former detective and a crime reporter discuss cold cases. I’m afraid of getting murdered and knowledge is power.

HG: I watch way too much television and there are so many that I could list but, lately it would have to be Shrill starring Aidy Bryant. It represents larger women who don’t hate themselves, and it’s a step toward taking back the word “fat” as something that’s not negative. It’s also super funny.

KP: I am going to choose a podcast called Where Should We Begin by Esther Perel. It’s a step into a well-known relationship therapist’s office, like a fly on the wall, listening to how humans and couples coexist and deal with life’s biggest challenges. It’s incredibly interesting and insightful. Plus I am a Nosy Nancy, so it’s right up my alley, baby!

What’s the worst piece of career/life advice you’ve been given?

MM: That you have to be an extrovert in order to succeed/Don’t be yourself.

HG: If you work hard enough, you will succeed. It’s too general. Hard work is important, but success is also based on so many other factors like right time/right place, opportunity, confidence, contacts etc. I think it should be more about working well and working smart than just working “hard.”

KP: I was in Grade 7 and we were having a careers day. The man running the event had us all go up and explain what we wanted to be when we grew up. I went up and said I wanted to be a comedian. He told me to tell a joke. I didn’t have one prepared, so he said to me: “If you can’t think of jokes or be funny on the spot right now, you’ll never be a comedian.” HAH! I SHOWED HIM!  

What is your motto at the moment?

MM: Use your words.

HG: My motto right now is a quote from the ICONIC Missy Elliott song “Work it” which goes like this: “Ain’t no shame, ladies, do your thing. Just make sure you’re ahead of the game.”

KP: Take it one step at a time.

Any goals/plans for summer?

MM: To spend more quality time with my partner.

HG: I try to avoid setting goals for myself as I will often put unnecessary pressure on myself to achieve it in a certain amount of time. I would much rather work on what I care about in the moment rather than focus on an endgame.

KP: Lots of shows, which is really awesome. But also going to Ireland in August to do a lot of drinking.

What are the qualities you like least & most about your parents?

MM: Least: They don’t like to venture outside of what they are comfortable with.
Most: The absolute love & kindness that they give to others.

HG: I like that my parents have always been extremely supportive and only want me to be happy. They’re also very funny and have always been huge supporters of the arts. However, I wish my parents were more communicative when it comes to talking about feelings.

KP: Um…next question.

Rewind five years. What advice would you give yourself?

MM: Not everybody has to like you, but if you calm the fuck down and stop worrying so much, they probably will.

HG: I would tell myself to focus less on what I think others expect of me and more on who I am and what makes me happy. Like my therapist tells me now, I would tell myself to be kinder to myself.

KP: It’s okay to cry! You do not have to do it alone, just ask for help. There is no shame in asking for help. Also: Take care of your skin, Katie! STOP TANNING!

What is the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?

MM: Start seeing a therapist.

HG: The most courageous thing I’ve ever done would probably be doing stand-up. I tried stand-up a few times and I of course love writing jokes, but being alone onstage isn’t something that worked for me. I gain energy and ease from my fellow troupe members.

KP: I ran for 42km without stopping. That was pretty hard.

What childhood memory makes you laugh out loud?

MM: For whatever reason, when I was a kid, I thought it was funny to call my dad “Butt Sugar.” I later discovered that “butt sugar” is slang for smuggled cocaine. Once my dad came to pick me up from school and I saw him and shouted, “Uh oh! Butt Sugar is here!” and ran. I love my dad.

HG: Choosing to wear a pair of thin beige pants on a double-decker tour bus in the middle of summer while on a family trip to New York City. I had to go around looking like I peed myself.

KP: My dad is and has always been a goofy man, and one time he came on a field trip with my Grade 7 class to the science museum. While walking around the museum, he would randomly point at the ceiling or off in the distance in excitement, as if there was something super cool to look at, but there wasn’t. The strangers around him would try to see what he was pointing at, and he would just stroll off laughing to himself. He still does this, and still makes me laugh!

What unnecessary object would you love to own?

MM: An RV.

HG: I have always wanted to own a Burberry trench coat, which costs nearly 10X more than my rent.

KP: A Roomba.

What tip, technique or hack has made your life better in the past year?

MM: Biking instead of TTC.

HG: Developing a solid morning routine that gets me hyped for the day. I used to wake up feeling depressed, so I make sure I have a good breakfast, fresh coffee, a couple hits of a vibrant sativa, and an up-beat playlist (right now it’s Lizzo on repeat!).

KP: Replacing a few vodka sodas with just soda water every now and then. It’s simple, but damn do I feel better in so many ways.

What issue do you wish people took more seriously?

MM: Wastefulness.

HG: I definitely wish people (mainly politicians) took climate change more seriously.

KP: Their mental health.

What outfit do you wear more than any other (your uniform, basically)?

MM: Dress & converse or gym clothes.

HG: My uniform is usually high-wasted pants or leggings with a flowy/loose top and a pair of Blundstones. I rarely leave the house without lipstick or several rings on my fingers.

KP: Anything that is flowy, or loose-fitted. But then I’ve been known to switch it up and wear tight spandex suits. So I’m kind of a loose cannon if I’m being honest.

Who/what has surprised you lately, and how?

MM: Ricotta cheese. It works in both, savoury & sweet combos. I love it.

HG: Honestly, I’m usually surprising myself. I will often surprise myself with something I did not foresee myself enjoying.

KP: How my approach to conflict and the specific people in them can make or break the outcome. I mean, this isn’t exactly a surprise, but it is easy to forget that we are all so different. That we all see things from our own perspectives and life experiences, which will naturally have a massive effect on how we react. Retreat, attack, defend, break down, listen, observe, run, freeze. Humans and the way we behave is just so fascinating!

When you look back on your life, are you at where you thought you’d be by now? Why or why not?

MM: No, but only because only a few years ago I had very different goals. I’m in a very happy place right now, I think, because I’ve let my goals change and adapt as I have.

HG: I am not where I thought I would be at all. I thought I would be trying to get work in classical theatre, not writing and producing comedy. I am so happy I am where I am right now.

KP: I think something I am going to be working on is to be right where I am. It’s so easy to jump ahead, and wonder if all the roads I went down, or all the roads I didn’t go down ended up being the right choice. Or the wrong choice. I just want to always make my younger self proud. To be braver than yesterday. To be constantly learning about myself and the people I choose to surround myself with. Whatever else happens, as long as I am kind to myself and others I am happy. I am where I am right now. And right now, IT’S AWESOME, MAN!

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