Why I Love Sandra Shamas

sanda-shamasI recently attended a one woman show by comedian Sandra Shamas at the Young Centre as part of PANAMANIA. Her shows are autobiographical and I have seen every one since she started with My Boyfriend’s Back and There’s Gonna Be Laundry in 1989.

She grew up in Sudbury.as the oldest of three children and the only girl.  Her Lebanese parents were more interested in her brothers and did not encourage her to get an education or develop a career.  She says a one-woman show by Lily Tomlin on Broadway initially inspired her to embrace the genre. She currently farms and surfaces every few years with a new show which she self-produces.

Shamas is seven years younger than I am but we are close enough in age that her new show ‘The Big ‘What Now?’ really resonated for me. Like the rest of the mostly middle-aged women in the audience I laughed so hard that I almost cried.

She opened by telling the audience that she had “climbed menopause mountain” and that on top the air is bright and clear. Along the way she had to shed certain things like alcohol, caffeine, former not-so-great friends and a little bit of her memory. She also got back her anger.

To help her remember what comes next in the show, she said her manager has a list of key words to prompt her from the wings. Not that she seemed to need the help the night I was in the audience.

She talked about reading an insurance brochure that described what people  typically focus on during various stages of life:

20s: Education and career
30s: Marriage. family, house ownership
40s: Increasing affluence, debt repayment
50s: Asset consolidation, retirement planning
60s: Retirement

And then after age 60, the list abruptly comes to an end, as if once we retire our life is over or we are invisible.

But that’s not how Shamas sees her own life evolving. She calls herself a “late bloomer.” She didn’t learn to drive until she was in her 30s or learn to swim until she was in her 40s. Now at age 58 she is strong and capable and won’t take no for an answer, even if that means digging out her own septic tank when the toilet backed sewage up into her bathtub and surviving for seven days alone without power or water after the December 2013 ice storm.

Shamas is brave and beautiful and wickedly funny. I love Sandra Shamas because an evening with her  is  an energizing catharsis. She empowers me to be whoever I want for as long as I want and to make the next 35 years as productive and fun as the last 65.

Her current run  is sold out, so we can only hope that she can manage to tear herself away from her farm long enough to perform it again soon in another venue.

Shamas  said that she is “her own retirement plan” and she doesn’t see retirement in the cards anytime soon.That’s a good thing, because I will happily pay to see her perform again anytime or anywhere. ‘Like” her on Facebook if you want to be informed of future performances.

Also see: Sandra Shamas: A Trilogy of Performances: My Boyfriend’s Back and There’s Gonna Be Laundry; The Cycle Continues and Wit’s End. The Trilogy was short-listed for the Governor General’s award and the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour




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