COMBUSTIONfestival starts burning up next week, and we are PUMPED. With drop-in workshops, special performances, Theatresports and more, we’ll be laughing our asses off all week long. Want in on this action? Better snap up a ticket before they’re all gone. 

We got to chat with some of the women performing at the festival next week. Meet The Kweendom, an improv comedy troupe composed of Rosh Abdullah, Patricia Taborda, Monica Garrido, Nelu Handa, Isabel Kanaan, Caroline Das, Shohana Sharmin and Alia Rasul. They’re the improv house team at Yas Kween on the first Thursday of every month. We chatted with The Kweendom director, Nelu Handa

SDTC: How would you describe yourself and your sense of humour?

NH: I’m an actor, writer, comedian and proud director of The Kweendom, our improv house team composed of women of colour who perform monthly at Yas Kween. Day to day, I personally live on a comedic spectrum of silly goofball to bone-dry jester.

What is the funniest thing you’ve seen/heard/experienced in recent memory?

Yesterday, I highlighted to a driver that he was blocking the entire crosswalk for me when he was waiting to turn right at a red light, forcing me to walk into the busy intersection. He told me, “I was being nice letting you cross. Next time, I won’t be.” My brain immediately flashed forward to his court trial for running over pedestrians without remorse. Anyhow, I hope he made it to his energetic healing circle in time. AND also anything The Kweendom* does. (*Come see our show.)

Where do you get your best material from?

The magic life moments when I’m not thinking about creating material. In improv, I find what works best are the relatable truths we all share, and The Kweendom does a good job at honing in on specific details that highlight universal experiences.

What do you love about the Canadian comedy scene? What do you loathe about it?

I’m often floored by the talent at live shows. So many performers are near and dear to my heart, and it’s exciting to see they keep breaking down barriers and have opportunities to flourish in our comedy scene.

Loathe is a strong word, but our cold winters are exhausting for performers. It makes it harder for audiences to want to come out and see all that hot fire on stage.

What can we expect from you at COMBUSTIONfestival?

The Kweendom will be performing alongside some guest WOC performers for the first time, and it’ll be a fun to see what new styles they’ll bring to the table.

What separates good improv from GREAT improv?

Oh, that’s a big question. As an improviser, I think it’s when you feel fully relaxed in a set so ideas flow, and also being comfortable in silences (that always feels like watching magic to me).