The Queen’s roots of Carly Heffernan’s comedy

Queen’s alum channels university into comedy and feminism

Supplied by Carly Heffernan

Carly Heffernan didn’t realize how much she loved comedy until she saw Queen’s Players. 

Today, Heffernan is big in the Toronto comedy scene. An award-winning alumnus of Second City Toronto, she is the director of the Second City National touring company, the all-female Second City Chicago show She the People as well as the main stage show Come What Mayhem!

Heffernan is undeniably a force in the Canadian comedy world, and she got her start on campus. 

After going to see a Queen’s Player’s show, she had a newfound interest in comedy. She auditioned to be a cast member and eventually ended up as president of the club. 

“That was a really great toe-dip into comedy,” Heffernan told The Journal in a phone interview. 

Heffernan says that Queen’s Players is not that different from what she does today. 

“I work for Second City and I always describe that Second City is kind of like doing Queen’s Players for a living with way …  less alcohol. Queen’s Players was very formative for me, finding that I had this passion for comedy which I really hadn’t considered before.” 

The relationships she formed while in Players helped Heffernan created a base to launch her post-university career. 

She and her fellow Queen’s Players cast mate Emma Hunter, as well as other female performers, they formed an all-female sketch troupe called She Said What? 

The troupe performed all around Toronto for five or six years, Heffernan said. 

While performing with She Said What? she fell in love with Second City. 

“I had that same feeling that I had when I watched that Queen’s Players show. I thought, ‘I really want to do that. I really want to be on that stage.’”

She decided to go for it. 

It worked out for her. Today, She the People, a show that she is directing, is mainstage at Second City Toronto. Heffernan is very excited, not only for her professional accomplishments, but for the fact that She the People is an all-woman show. 

“It’s all women!” she said. “Created by women, and performed by women, and a creative crew that’s all women.”

Heffernan sees this as a big step. 

“I think for a long time, female stories have been told from the male lens. They’ve been written by and put together for men,” she said. “Having those more diverse voices telling their stories and telling them authentically—the art is just so much better.” 

She The People promises an excellent collection of sketches. While the show addresses the micro and macro-aggressions that women face in their daily lives, it also also addresses issues to do with the human experience. It’s something Heffernan believes everyone will enjoy. 

“It delves into everything from body image, to the #MeToo movement, to how annoying it is when you mispronounce a word —it’ a really full spectrum,” she said. 

Shows like She the People offer a uniquely feminine perspective on so many issues—something Heffernan really values. 

“I hope that we keep pushing in this direction—more authentically diverse voices. This show is such a fun and great time and it’s very odd that you go to a comedy show and you laugh and you cry and you think—and I think it’s a great catalyst to keep pushing us in that direction.” 



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