Tragedy Plus Time: Montreal Comedian Sarah Warren

Sarah Warren is a Montreal comedian and self-described storyteller. She uses the dark and difficult moments in her life and transforms them into comedic releases. With a successful career making people laugh, Sarah has performed in multiple cities and countries for an array of audiences. We had the opportunity to speak with her to learn more.

Sarah Warren
Performing at The Peach Club, a feminist and sex-positive comedy night in Montreal. Photo by: Josh Kirschner

How would you describe your comedy style?

I would describe myself as a storyteller, leaning towards dark and blue comedy. I draw a lot of inspiration from the idea of tragedy + time. I think that the worst things that happen in your life can really make for the best jokes, at least that’s what I tell myself, and my therapist.

Who are some of your influences?

My biggest comedic influences would have to be Mike Birbiglia, Marc Maron and Hannah Gatsby. I love the way that they all tell an honest story and keep you emotionally invested. Most of my jokes are pulled from personal life influences like my history of being bullied, the death of my mother, sex, and my body image.

Who was your favourite comedian growing up?

I was always a big fan of interview comedy! I hardly ever watched standup, most stand-up comedy came much later for me in my early 20s. The first comics I listened to were a lot of angry white men and thankfully I’ve graduated from that. I also loved the late-night shows, especially Conan. I think I have always craved the reality of people’s lives and getting to know them more.

Who is your favourite comedian now?

I still love and listen frequently to Mike Birbiglia and Marc Maron, they’re my ‘I’m going to the grocery store and need entertainment’ comics. To be honest, I can be a bit scared to watch new comics, I’m worried that I might subconsciously steal someone’s jokes! I know it’s an achilles heel of mine but I hope it plays into me being more fully myself on stage.

What is your pre-show ritual?

Panic! No, that’s not quite true anymore.

I usually chat with whoever else is in the lineup and read over my set. I often find that my writing is the best under intense pressure so I love to utilise the time right before I go on stage to write new jokes.

What is your favourite place you have performed? Why?

I started performing in Amsterdam in 2019 and that city and comedy scene will always have my heart! The upstairs theatre of Boom Chicago in Amsterdam is my favourite room of all time. I had the pleasure to be back there in August with The Comedy Embassy and I had one of my best sets in a long time. I think that’s because Boom is somewhere that I truly started my career in comedy; I feel more at ease there, that stage really gives me the chance to fully be myself and play, not just perform. That opinion was really challenged though when I was in Paris! Le Kibélé has an incredible basement where I got to perform with Blastoff Comedy for multiple shows. It’s literally a cave, you have no cell service, no wifi, just you and the comedy! As Demetri Martin says, ‘Any room that is bad in a fire, is great for comedy’. That has always rung true for me.

What is your favourite bit you have written and why were you proud of it?

I am a Leo, so I am proud of everything I write.

I have a joke about being bullied in high school that is becoming my favourite the more I tell it. It’s closer to a storytelling-style joke, which is what I gravitate towards naturally and find to be the most rewarding. This joke specifically allows me to play with the tension in the room. It always has a moment of pause where the audience and I are in the same place of ‘Oh my god, what is she saying’ and I love the chance to give the audience the relief.

I’m extra proud of this joke because I was bullied for my weight and appearance all my life and that truly impacted me heavily for years. This joke gives me the chance to turn the attitude around from something that almost killed me to something that is now giving me a career and confidence. I know that so many women in the audience can relate to the pain of not being comfortable in their own skin and I love making women feel seen and related too, it’s a full circle moment.

What is your favourite medium for listening or finding new comics/comedians?

I’m a sl*t for a TikTok or Instagram reel.

I love having the easily digested 10-30 seconds. I truly am a victim of the dopamine machine. I love watching the Don’t Tell Comedy page. It’s where I found Jackie Fabulous and she always makes me cackle. I do also love when Netflix does small series with multiple comedians doing 20-minute sets, that’s how I found Beth Stelling and Deon Cole, who both had incredible sets on there.

Tell us a joke about your city.

This is such an impossible question for me, yikes!

I am terrible at observational humour! Please don’t draw any conclusions about me based off this!

I’m originally from a small town in the interior of BC and I always make a joke on stage that I wasn’t allowed to take History 12 because it was an elective and more students wanted to take Fly Tying. If you don’t know what fly tying is, how does it feel to be educated?

God I hope that lands better on stage…

Do you have anything to promote right now?

Yes! But it’s tricky… I can’t give too many details around what it’s about at the moment because it is currently under development and I am a superstitious person! What I can tell you is that it’s a combination project about the grief of losing my mother last September and my culinary background. I’m a trained chef who loves interview comedy, you can take from that what you will! I am very excited to share this project with the world, and if you want to follow along it will start to be teased on my platforms in late October!

Where can we follow you?


PAY IT FORWARD: Who is another local comic/comedian we should know about?

This is my easiest and favourite question to answer! There are SO many names and I will refuse to pay it forward to just one. I am obsessed with Raajiee Chelliah! She is one of my best friends in the Montreal comedy scene and such an honest and genuine supporter, truly the love of my Montreal comedy life. She’s killing it! The scene here is filled with creative and honest performers who are creating spaces that are needed and under-represented. Raquel Maestre of ‘The Pretentious Comedy Show’, Lucy Gervais of ‘The Lucy Show’, and Alo Azimov of ‘Tales of Gender Affirmation’ have all been so successful at creating a space for queer individuals and women in the scene. I am beyond thrilled to see how successful they all have been, it gives me a lot of hope for the future scene in Montreal. I can’t forget to mention Ellie Gill of ‘The Empress Show’ either! She is a god-damned rockstar for creating a show that is for and by Asian women. That show has been one of my favourites to watch because the lineup is always stacked with my friends and some of the best comedians in Montreal. This scene is filled with some really talented people and I’m happy to see them getting more and more of the spotlight. It’s well deserved and long overdue.