Vancouver Comedians Perform Live Readings of Cringe-worthy Writing at Say Wha?!

Monthly event combines comedy at the expense of bad writing with readings performed by local actors, comedians and book lovers.

Sara Bynoe’s monthly Say Wha?! event combines comedy at the expense of bad writing with readings performed by Vancouver actors, comedians and book lovers


One of the questions that forever plagues my waking life is: Should books be taken seriously? And too often the answer to that question has been yes…

But not anymore! Thanks to the imaginative bookish enthusiasm of Sara Bynoe and a cast of great readers we now have the opportunity to gather together and laugh at terrible writing. Out loud!

Say What?!


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

8–10 p.m.

Cottage Bistro

4470 Main St, Vancouver

Featuring: Brad Duffy, Kaitlin Fontana, Bronwen Marsden, Nicole “Coco” Roberge, Ryan Steele and more


Tickets: $5–10 sliding scale

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Say Wha?!
, Sara Bynoe’s monthly journey into literary hilarity, joins a growing number of events aimed at Vancouver’s writing and performance communities. It happens once a month—on a Wednesday—at the cosy confines of Main Street’s Cottage Bistro.

Sara is a peripatetic performer with an MA from Goldsmiths and a book, Teen Angst: A Celebration of Really Bad Poetry, under her belt. She’s restlessly creative and ebullient, moving from project to project with the same sense of dedication and enthusiasm. If she’s not working on her writing, she’s organizing performances or acting as Den Mother for Dance Dance Party Party Vancouver or reading and participating in a bunch of other great shows across the city.


Say Wha?! was born by accident in a hostel in the English town of Bath when Sara and some friends discovered a dog-eared Harlequin pocketbook with the fetching title of Dark Avenger. After reducing her friends to tears by reading Dark Avenger aloud, Sara knew that she was on to something.

When she arrived back in Vancouver in spring 2010, Sara was determined to find a way to bring her love for theatre, comedy and books together in an ongoing series that would make people laugh. Laugh in a good way, of course. And, in a good way about bad writing, as it turns out.


Say Wha poster

The poster for the June 2010 Say Wha?! event. (Image: Hilary Henegar)

Say Wha?! combines fun and laughter at the expense of bad writing with great readings performed by actors, comedians and book lovers from around Vancouver.

Whether it’s bang-on renditions of ’50s fedora-wearing detectives from old crime novels, hilarious celebrity impressions drawn from ridiculous Hollywood autobiographies, or the over-wrought gansta slang of new urban noir, Say Wha?! delivers a variety of good fun for the book lover in all of us.

“It’s a comedy event, not a literary one,” Sara says, and I agree. Too often the playfulness of language is held back by a stuffy literary sensibility, but at Say Wha?! the window to fun is thrown wide open.

As Vancouver continues to emerge as a leader in the present and future of writing on the world stage—via publications like Poetry is Dead and One Cool Word and events held by the Vancouver Book Club, the Robson Reading Series and the Vancouver International Writers Festival, to name a few, the Say Wha?! series offers an important and perfectly Canadian contribution to the scene: “Quit taking yourselves so seriously.”

If you can handle a little humour with your Hemingway, I suggest you check out the Say Wha?! series this month and every month after that.

And if you think you’ve got what it takes to turn terrible prose into instant hilarity then you might find yourself on stage at the Cottage Bistro one day.


Sean Cranbury


Sean Cranbury is the executive editor of Books on the Radio and curator of the W2 Real Vancouver Writers and Culture Series. His current project, the Advent Book Blog, helps people buy better books during the holiday season. He lives in East Vancouver and freelances in writing, communications and social media. He’s also an events programmer with W2 Community Media Arts Society. Web | Twitter