Transcript: Sandra Shamas | Sep 24, 1996

(Rhythmic string and wind music plays)

In animation, a word in pink slides by against a gray background as hands paint strokes using paintbrushes, play a piano, and touch as in a ballet performance.

The title of the show reads “Dialogue.”

The title of the episode pops up against an image of an make-up assistant giving finishing touches to Richard Ouzounian: “Sandra Shamas. Comedian.” Richard and his guest sit at a table in a theatre with several small tables.

Then, Richard appears facing the screen as a caption reads “Richard Ouzounian.” He's in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short side-parted blond hair. He's wearing rounded glasses, a gray suit, light gray shirt, and flowery tie.

He says MY MOTHER ALWAYS
SAID YOU SHOULDN'T
DO YOUR DIRTY
LAUNDRY IN PUBLIC.
AND YOU'RE ABOUT TO MEET
SOMEONE WHO HAS DISREGARDED
THAT ADVICE AND DONE
VERY WELL WITH IT.
EVER SINCE HER TRILOGY,
WHICH BEGAN WITH,
MY BOYFRIEND'S BACK AND
THERE'S GONNA BE LAUNDRY,
SANDRA SHAMAS HAS
BECOME FAMOUS,
ALL OVER NORTH AMERICA, AS
ONE OF THE TRULY ORIGINAL
COMIC TALENTS WE HAVE.
AND SHE'S WITH ME TODAY.

Sandra is in her thirties, with short curly dark brown hair. She’s wearing a light beige dress over a white crewneck t-shirt.

Richard continues SANDRA, I'VE GOT TO ASK
YOU, YOU'RE RIGHT NOW,
ABOUT FINISHING UP WHAT
YOU CALL A SABBATICAL.
NOW, I SEE SABBATICAL, I
SEE GUYS IN TWEED JACKETS
WITH LEATHER PATCHES
AND BRIEFCASES.

Sandra says YEAH, I WEAR THAT A LOT.

Richard says YOU DO?

Sandra says IT'S PICKY IN THE SUMMER, BUT I DON'T CARE.

Richard says YOU DON'T THINK SO.

Sandra says IT'S AN ACADEMIC LOOK.
I'M ENJOYING.

Richard says HOW ABOUT THE PIPE?

Sandra says I'M WORKING ON A GOATEE.

Richard says GOOD.

Sandra says YEAH.
I HAD NO IDEA HOW
ODD THE IDEA
OF AN ARTIST TAKING
TIME OFF WAS.
I THINK, I DON'T
KNOW, FIRST OF ALL,
IT DIDN'T OCCUR TO ME THAT
IT WOULD BE AN AWKWARD
OR UNUSUAL THING FOR
SOMEBODY TO TAKE TIME OFF.
BUT WHEN I LOOKED AT THE
BODY OF WORK I HAD CREATED,
I HAD ACTUALLY WORKED
FOR SEVEN YEARS.
AND SABBATICAL, IN
FACT, IN THE WORLD,
THE WIDE WORLD OF
ACADEMIA MEANS,
A YEAR OFF AFTER
SEVEN YEARS OF WORK.

Richard says RIGHT.

Sandra says SO IT WORKED
TOO PERFECTLY.
I MEAN, ALL SORT OF - ALL ARROWS
POINTED TO DOING NOTHING,
AND TAKING, WHAT
I TERM MY SABBATICAL.
NOW, IN THE CREATIVE WORLD,
ARTISTS DON'T EXPECT
EVER TO TAKE TIME OFF.
THEY DON'T TAKE
VACATIONS.
THEY NEVER EXPECT
TO RETIRE.
IT'S SORT OF LIKE WE'RE JUST
GOING TO DO THIS UNTIL
WE DIE, THEN WE'RE GOING TO
BURN OUT, AND, YOU KNOW,
AND THERE WILL BE A LOVELY
MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR US.

Richard says BUT CONVENTIONAL WISDOM
WOULD HAVE SAID --

Sandra says CONVENTIONAL?

She chuckles.

Richard says CONVENTIONAL WISDOM,
WHICH I KNOW YOU EVER ARE.
BUT YOU HAD GONE ALONG, AND
YOUR CAREER KEPT BUILDING
AND BUILDING AND BUILDING,
AND YOU FINALLY GOT TO
THE POINT WHERE YOU SOLD
OUT THE WINTER GARDEN
IN TORONTO FOR
MONTHS AT A TIME.
AND WHAT CONVENTIONAL WISDOM
WOULD SAY IS NOW SANDRA
COULD DO WHATEVER
SHE WANTS TO DO,
WHAT IS IT GOING TO BE?
AND SHE SAYS, I THINK
I'LL TAKE A YEAR OFF.

Sandra says I DID NOTHING.
PRECISELY.
I COULD DO ANYTHING
I WANTED TO DO.
AND I DID NOT KNOW
WHAT I WANTED.
THE QUESTION, WHAT DO
YOU WANT HAD ALWAYS
BEEN REALLY EASY
TO ANSWER.
WELL, I WANT TO DO THIS,
AND I WANT TO DO THAT,
AND FOLLOWING THIS PATH.
AND NEXT CHALLENGE WOULD BE
BIGGER VENUE, ANOTHER CITY,
LA, LA, LA, AND IT SEEMED TO
PRESENT ITSELF SO NATURALLY
TO ME THROUGHOUT THAT
SEVEN-YEAR PERIOD.
AT THE END OF
THE THIRD SHOW,
AT THE END OF THE WINTER
GARDEN, YOU KNOW,
TURNING 38, I WENT,
WELL, WHAT DO I WANT?
AND I DID NOT KNOW.
AND I WAS FRIGHTENED THAT
I DIDN'T HAVE AN ANSWER.
UM...
I THOUGHT I WAS SUPPOSED
TO DO CERTAIN THINGS,
AND I DIDN'T KNOW HOW
TO GO ABOUT DOING THEM.

Richard says LIKE WHAT KIND OF CERTAIN THINGS?

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Sandra Shamas. Comedian."

Sandra says WELL, I DON'T
DO TELEVISION.
AND WE'RE NOT SUPPOSED
TO TALK ABOUT THAT.

Richard says THAT'S ALL RIGHT.

Sandra says I WOULD NEVER, OR AT
LEAST AT THAT POINT,
I HAD NEVER PERFORMED
SPECIFICALLY FOR TELEVISION
IN TERMS OF, IN
TELEVISION'S TERMS,
WHICH ARE SITCOM OR
VARIETY SHOW, OR WHATEVER.
IT JUST NEVER OCCURRED
TO ME TO DO THAT.
IT'S NOT WHAT
I WANT TO DO.
EVEN NOW, THE PROCESS
OF BEING IN HERE IS,
IT'S LIKE, THE HAIR ON THE
BACK OF MY NECK IS UP.
SO ANYWAY, AND
THEN FILM NEVER
INTRIGUED ME SUFFICIENTLY.

Richard says RIGHT.

Sandra says SO I THOUGHT I HAD BURNT
OUT ALL - I DIDN'T -
YOU CAN HEAR HOW HALTINGLY
I AM SPEAKING OF IT,
SO CLEARLY, I WAS
AT REAL IMPASSE.
SUFFICIENTLY SO THAT
I STARTED PANICKING.
AND I THOUGHT, WELL, MAYBE
I'M SUPPOSED TO DO THIS,
AND MAYBE I'M
SUPPOSED TO DO THAT,
AND I THINK THAT'S EXACTLY
THE KIND OF THINKING THAT
COMES INTO PLAY
WHEN YOU ARE UNSURE,
AND YOU KNOW YOU'RE
SUPPOSED TO STOP.

Richard says I HAD A NIGHTMARE WHICH
IS, AFTER THE SUCCESS
OF THE WINTER GARDEN, I HAD
NIGHTMARES ABOUT --

Sandra says YOU HAD A NIGHTMARE?

Richard says ABOUT PEOPLE COMING TO YOU
AND SAYING, THINGS LIKE,
ELLEN DEGENERES HAS HER
SERIES, WE'LL DO A SERIES,
WE'LL CALL IT
SANDRA.
YOU'LL HAVE THIS
LITTLE STORE.
YOU'LL DO THIS,
YOU'LL DO THAT.
DID THEY EVER COME TO YOU WITH
SILLY PROPOSALS LIKE THAT?

Sandra says THEY ALWAYS DO.
TELEVISION IS FULL
OF SILLY PROPOSALS.

Richard says AND YOU JUST SAY
NO AND WALK AWAY.

Sandra says I'M ALWAYS FLATTERED,
AND I ALWAYS SAY,
THANK YOU VERY MUCH,
IT'S JUST NOT WHAT
I WANT TO DO RIGHT NOW.

Richard says SO WHAT YOU DID, YOU SAID I
WILL DO NOTHING FOR A WHILE
UNTIL YOU FIGURE OUT
WHAT YOU WANT TO DO.
YOU MOVED OFF
TO THE COUNTRY.

Sandra says YEAH.
I COULD AFFORD A
FARM, SO I GOT ONE.
I WAS MARRIED AT THE TIME,
AND WE WERE BOTH GOING TO
MOVE THERE AND SORT
OF REASSESS THINGS.
AND BY THE TIME I MOVED, BY
THE TIME I DID MY LAST GIG
IN OTTAWA, MAY 1, '95,
EVERYTHING CAME TO AN END.
MY MARRIAGE DISSOLVED, MY
CAREER CAME TO AN END,
AND I MOVED TO A FARM.
AND I TOTALLY, LIKE, ALL
ROAD SIGNS WERE GONE.
WHATEVER PATH I THOUGHT
I HAD BEEN ON DISSOLVED
ENTIRELY IN FRONT
OF MY VERY EYES,
AND I EMBARKED ON
SOMETHING ENTIRELY NEW,
ENTIRELY FOREIGN,
AND ENTIRELY SOLO.
AND THAT'S EXACTLY WHY --
I MEAN, I DID NOT KNOW.
I DID NOT KNOW SO MUCH.
BUT I THINK LIFE DOVETAILS
INTO ITSELF PRETTY PERFECTLY.
I THINK THE UNIVERSE IS JUST
SORT OF WAITING UP THERE
FOR ME TO CLUE
IN GOING...

She mimics the act of smoking and in a different tone of voice says
NOW, NOW WOULD BE
GOOD FOR YOU?
NO, OKAY, YOU HAVEN'T
GOT IT YET, OKAY, FINE.

In her normal tone, she continues
SO THE UNIVERSE GOES,
WELL, I'M TIRED
OF WAITING FOR
YOU, SO WHAP!

Richard says WE'LL GET RID OF THE
MARRIAGE AND THE CAREER,
EVERYTHING AT ONCE.

Sandra says SO THERE WERE NO
EXTERNAL SIGNS.
THERE WERE NO
IDENTIFYING MARKS.
THE BODY WAS FOUND WITH
NO IDENTIFYING MARKS.
NOT A COMEDIAN,
NOT A WIFE,
NOT A CITY-DWELLER,
NOTHING.
SO THE PROCESS
OF SABBATICAL,
OR AT LEAST THE
PLAN OF SABBATICAL,
CAME FULLY INTO FOCUS.
I WAS SUPPOSED TO.
THIS IS WHAT I WAS
SUPPOSED TO DO.
SO I HAD FOLLOWED AN
INSTINCT A LONG TIME AGO,
BUT I HAD NO IDEA HOW IT
WOULD COME INTO FRUITION.
AND THEREFORE, THE LAST
YEAR OF SABBATICAL
HAS BEEN SPENT PERFECTLY
IN THE STUDY OF SELF,
OR THE RECONSOLIDATION
OF SELF,
AND THE REJUVENATION
OF MY CREATIVITY,
AND WHAT THAT IS
SUPPOSED TO MEAN TO ME.
WHAT'S THE NEXT
STEP, SANDRA?
EVENTUALLY, YOU'LL SAY,
IS THERE ANOTHER SHOW?
WELL, I DON'T KNOW.
I DON'T.
BUT CLEARLY I DON'T
HAVE A PROPENSITY
TOWARDS ANYTHING ELSE.

Richard says WHAT I'M CURIOUS ABOUT IS
HAVING HAD THIS KIND OF
MOMENTUM CARRYING YOU
FORWARD, YOU KNOW,
WE'RE GOING TO
DO THE TRILOGY,
AND WE'RE GOING TO DO
THE TRILOGY IN ALL
THESE CITIES, AND YOU
CLIMAXED, YOU KNOW,
AS YOU SAID IN DOING IT IN
OTTAWA, AND EVERYTHING,
AND YOU GET OUT
TO THE COUNTRY,
I'M IMAGINING ONE OF THE
FIRST NIGHTS YOU ARE OUT THERE,
YOU ARE UNPACKED,
YOU'VE GOT EVERYTHING AWAY,
YOU'RE BY YOURSELF,
SUN'S GOING DOWN.

Sandra says CAKE'S ON THE GRIDDLE.

Richard says RISOTTO IS ON THE STOVE,
YOU'RE STIRRING AWAY.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
WHAT DO YOU FEEL LIKE?

Sandra says I WISH IT HAD
BEEN THAT PLACID.
I WISH THAT SCENARIO
BUT BASICALLY,
WHAT HAPPENED
WAS I IGNITED.
I COMBUSTED.
I TOTALLY WAS ENGULFED
IN FLAME, EMOTIONAL FLAME,
FOR A VERY LONG TIME.
THE BOXES WEREN'T
UNPACKED.
I WORE THE SAME CLOTHING
FOR A VERY LONG TIME.
I ATE FIG NEWTONS.
AND IN THE SILENCE OF
THE WORLD AROUND ME,
I CONTINUALLY -- THE
WORLD AROUND ME
CONTINUED TO
REFLECT ME TO ME.
THERE WERE NO
INTERRUPTIONS.
THE SOLITUDE, THE QUIET,
INDICATED VERY STRONGLY
I WAS SUPPOSED TO START
TUNING THIS STATIC,
THIS TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF
INFORMATION THAT WAS COMING
TOWARDS ME, I WAS SUPPOSED
TO START, YOU KNOW,
TRYING TO FIGURE OUT, OH,
OH, THIS IS ME ALONE.
THIS IS ME WHO IS
NOT EATING VERY WELL.
AS MY BROTHER SAID,
IT'S FINE, DON'T EAT,
JUST KEEP DRINKING
GINGER ALE.
IT'S LIKE, WHY
THAT, MIKE?
HE SAID, ELECTROLYTES.
THANK YOU, DARLING.
SO IT'S LIKE FIG
NEWTONS AND GINGER ALE.
WHAT A HELL DIET.
SO THAT REALITY CAME, YOU
KNOW, IMPOSED ITSELF ON ME.
I DID NOT HAVE --
THERE WASN'T ANY,
IN TERMS OF
GOING OUT THERE,
I'D NEVER LIVED ON A FARM,
NEVER LIVED ALONE,
NEVER LIVED IN THE MIDDLE
OF WHAT I THINK IS NOWHERE.
OF COURSE IT
IS SOMEWHERE.
BUT I NEEDED
TO BE THERE.
I NEEDED TO HAVE THAT
KIND OF AN EXPERIENCE
SO THAT I COULD, IN FACT,
REGROUP AND BECOME ME.
AND I DIDN'T HAVE A
THOUGHT OF IT AT ALL.
IT WAS WHAT I WAS
SUPPOSED TO DO.

Richard says SO IT NEVER FELT LONELY?

Sandra says GOSH, I WAS TOO BUSY
PUTTING OUT FIRE,
YOU KNOW, TO
FEEL LONESOME.
LONESOME, I THINK
SOMETIMES LONESOME
IS ACTUALLY A LUXURY.
YOU KNOW, BUT YEAH,
YOU DO FEEL, YOU KNOW -
AND EVERY NOW AND THEN
I WOULD GET LONELY,
OR I'D RECOGNIZE I
WAS FEELING LONESOME.
SO THERE TREMENDOUS
CHILD INSIDE ME IS LIKE...

She shrieks in a childish voice
I'M LONELY.
I WANT TO SEE PEOPLE.

In a deeper tone, she continues
IT'S LIKE, OH, OKAY,
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO?
GO TO A MOVIE.
THEN I WOULD PICK MYSELF
AND TAKE MYSELF TO SEE,
WHAT WAS IT?
I JUST WENT TO THE GEORGETOWN
THEATRE AND WENT...
OPERATION DUMBO
DROP, YEAH, THAT'S IT.
AND I WENT IN THERE
FEELING PRETTY BAD,
AND WHEN I LEFT I FELT
WORSE FOR THE GUYS THAT
WERE IN THE MOVIE, GOING,
WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?
AND I THOUGHT I
WAS BAD OFF.
I'M IN PEAK CONDITION
NEXT TO THESE PEOPLE.

Richard says SO THE CANOLA FIELDS
WERE PREFERABLE TO THAT.

Sandra says TOTALLY.

Richard says NOW, WHAT'S INTERESTING
IS, PEOPLE WOULD SAY
YOUR COMEDY HAD BEEN
FUELLED BY THE FACT
THAT YOU KNEW
YOURSELF SO WELL.
YOU COULD GO BACK AND
LOOK AT ALL THIS STUFF,
AND YOU HAD THE FIX
ON WHAT WENT WRONG
WITH YOUR PARENTS, AND
YOU COULD ALWAYS STAND
AND TELL US WHAT SANDRA
WAS LIKE GOING THROUGH
ALL THESE VARIOUS THINGS.
WAS THAT LIKE
NOT TOTALLY TRUE?

Sandra says NO, IT WAS ABSOLUTELY TRUE.

Richard says THE FACTS WERE TRUE.

Sandra says IT WAS ABSOLUTELY TRUE.
I KNEW ME TO MY
BEST KNOWLEDGE.

She grabs a full glass of water and says
YOU KNOW?
THIS IS A GLASS.
IT'S A WHOLE GLASS.
WE KNOW IT.
IF IT BREAKS, THEN IT
BECOMES SOMETHING DIFFERENT.
BUT UP UNTIL IT BREAKS,
WE KNOW IT PERFECTLY.
ONCE IT BREAKS, OUR
OPINION OF IT CHANGES,
AND WE HAVE TO LOOK AT
IT IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT.
AND THAT'S PRECISELY
HOW WE ARE AS --
BASICALLY I GOT BROKE.
CRACKED OPEN.
AND I GOT TO GO, UGHH!
LOOK INSIDE.
AND THAT, IN
FACT, WAS MY TASK.
UP UNTIL THAT POINT,
EVERYTHING I KNEW
ABOUT MYSELF, I KNEW TO
THE BEST OF MY KNOWLEDGE.
NO, IT WAS ALL TRUE.
IT STILL IS.
IT STILL IS.
AND THAT, IN FACT,
WAS SOMETHING
I HAD TO RECONCILE
WITH, AS WELL.
BECAUSE STEPPING INTO, GOING
THROUGH A RITE OF PASSAGE
AND LOOKING BACK ON WHO YOU
WERE AT THE TIME, YOU KNOW,
YOU WANT TO GO, I
WAS AN ASSHOLE THEN,
I WASN'T AN IDIOT,
I DIDN'T KNOW ME.
BUT I THINK THAT WOULD BE
THE WAY TO DISCOUNT THAT LIFE,
AND DISCOUNT WHO THAT
PERSON YOU WERE AT THE TIME.
AND IN FACT, THE
OPPOSITE HAS TO BE TRUE.
YOU HAVE TO LOOK AT THAT
INDIVIDUAL YOU WERE AND SAY,
YOU DID THE BEST
YOU KNEW.
YOU DID THE BEST JOB
YOU KNEW HOW TO DO.
EMBRACE THAT INDIVIDUAL,
AND SAY, WELL,
THANK YOU FOR BRINGING
ME TO THIS POINT.
BECAUSE I'M HERE NOW, AND I
CAN DO THIS BECAUSE
OF WHO I WAS AND
WHAT I DID.
I COULD NOT HAVE GOTTEN
TO THIS POINT WITHOUT
THAT PRIOR LIFE, AND
THAT PRIOR PERSONALITY
AND THAT LIFE
EXPERIENCE.
I WOULDN'T BE
SITTING HERE.

Richard says BUT DOES THIS MEAN YOU
CAN'T DO ANY OF THE TRILOGY
EVER AGAIN, OR CAN YOU?

Sandra says NEVER.

Richard says NOT EVEN PARTS.

Sandra says NEVER.
NO.
IT'S LIKE, I'VE
THOUGHT ABOUT IT.
AND IT WAS LIKE
A GREAT BIG LOVE.
LIKE IT WAS A GREAT BIG
LOVE AFFAIR THAT I HAD,
AND I GOT TO DO IT, AND IT
WAS WONDERFUL, AND FUN,
AND YAHOO, AND I
CAN'T GO THERE AGAIN.
I CAN'T GO THERE AGAIN.
AND I DON'T HAVE TO,
ACTUALLY BECAUSE
IT LIVES IN EVERYBODY
ELSE'S BRAIN.
PEOPLE DO PARTS OF IT
FOR ME WHEN THEY SEE ME
IN LOBLAWS AND STUFF.
THEIR TIMING IS
A LITTLE OFF.

Richard says THEY DON'T HAVE IT.

Sandra says YEAH, THEY DON'T HAVE IT.

Richard says YOU NEVER WROTE OF IT
DOWN, RIGHT, DID YOU?
THERE ARE NO SCRIPTS.
AND THERE IS NO COMPLETE
COMPENDIUM OF IT IN ANY WAY.

Sandra says THERE IS VIDEO OF IT.
IT'S THE ONLY REASON
I USE CAMERAS.

Richard says RIGHT, BUT THAT'S YOUR VIDEO.

Sandra says IT'S MINE.
IT'S ARCHIVAL, AND THE
SOUND IS MULTIDIRECTIONAL.
AND IT'S MEANT NOT TO
BE VIEWABLE TO OTHERS.
IT'S MEANT ONLY TO
BE VIEWABLE TO ME.
IN FACT, I GOT A GLIMPSE
OF IT, A TIME AGO,
SOMEBODY I KNOW
WANTED TO SEE IT.
SO I SAT DOWN, AND I POPPED
IT IN, AND IT WAS -
[“Twilight Zone” theme]
STOP, STOP, STOP.
AND LUCKILY BECAUSE OF
THE QUALITY OF THE VIDEO,
THE INDIVIDUAL SAID,
THIS IS REALLY DIFFICULT
FOR ME TO UNDERSTAND.
I WENT, YOU'RE RIGHT.
AND LET'S NOT WATCH IT.

Richard says RIGHT.

Sandra says AND I REALIZED AT THAT
POINT I COULD NEVER
DO THIS WORK AGAIN.
IT HAD BEEN DONE.
IT HAD BEEN APPRECIATED,
AND IT LIVES FAVOURABLY
IN THE MINDS OF
PEOPLE WHO SAW IT.
THAT IS MY GREATEST
ACCOMPLISHMENT.

Richard says I WAS TELLING SOME PEOPLE
ABOUT FAVOURITE MOMENTS
I HAD, AND I SAID THE BIT
ABOUT OF DAD IN THE CASKET,
AND MY FAVOURITE IS
ALWAYS THE SHOPPING
FOR THE WEDDING DRESS ON
QUEEN STREET IN THREE.
AND THEY SAID, WELL,
WHAT WAS IT LIKE?
WELL, YOU KNOW, YOU CAN'T
START TO DO, AS YOU SAID,
OTHER PEOPLE DOING YOUR
LINES OR YOUR TIMING.
AND THE ONE THING MAKES ME
SAD IS THERE IS NO WAY
I CAN COMMUNICATE THAT OR
IT'LL EXIST FOR PEOPLE WHO
WEREN'T SMART ENOUGH TO GO
SEE WHEN YOU WERE DOING IT
THE FIRST TIME AROUND.

Sandra says WELL, IN FACT, I DON'T KNOW
IF IT'S A LAMENTABLE THING.
I ALWAYS THINK OF THE MOVIE
DIVA
WHERE SHE NEVER
RECORDED HER VOICE BECAUSE
SHE WANTED EVERYONE
WHO HEARD IT TO HAVE
THE EXPERIENCE OF IT.
AND I UNDERSTAND
THAT ON A LEVEL.
AS A PERFORMER, I
UNDERSTAND THAT.
IT'S SO INTIMATE.
WHAT HAPPENS THERE ON
THAT STAGE IS SO GENUINE,
IT'S NOT...
I DON'T KNOW, IT WOULD -
IT'S LIKE TRYING TO TAKE
YOUR MOM'S PRESERVES AND
MARKET THEM COMMERCIALLY.
IT'S LIKE, IT'S NOT
THE SAME ANYMORE.
IT'S NOT THE SAME ANYMORE
SOON AS YOU START
TO MAKE IT, PUT IT ON
VIDEO, MAKE IT, DISTRIBUTE,
IT DOESN'T MEAN
ANYTHING ANYMORE.

Richard says ONCE I READ YOU SAY
I'M ALL ABOUT CONTROL.

Sandra says TOTALLY.

Richard says AND THE THING IS, WHEN
YOU ARE IN THE THEATRE,
AND THEY ARE
COMING TO SEE YOU,
YOU HAVE A CERTAIN CONTROL
OVER THAT PERFORMANCE.

Sandra says YEAH.

Richard says YOU CAN PLAY THEM,
YOU CAN REIN IT IN,
YOU CAN TAKE IT OUT, YOU
KNOW, TO A CERTAIN DEGREE;
WHEREAS IF THEY BUY YOUR
VIDEO AND TAKE IT HOME,
YOU DON'T KNOW IF THEY'VE
HAD 18 MARGARITAS OR ARE
FIGHTING WITH THE DOG,
OR ARE IN A LOUSY MOOD,
OR TURN IT OFF.

Sandra says YOU KNOW, THE THING
IS, I WON'T SEE THEM.
THAT'S MY BIG THING.
I WON'T SEE THEM.
WHEN I'M IN A THEATRE, THEY
CONTROL THE PERFORMANCE
AS MUCH AS I DO.
A THOUSAND PEOPLE
SITTING THERE,
THAT'S A HELL OF
A LOT OF ENERGY.
IF I GO TOWARDS THEM, AND
THEY'RE NOT RESPONDING,
I HAVE TO GO CLOSER.
THEY CAN MAKE ME GO AS
FAR AS THEY WANT ME TO.
YOU KNOW, AS FAR AS,
YEAH, WANT ME TO.
WHICH MEANS IF I'M NOT
DELIVERING SOMETHING
APPROPRIATELY, THEN THEY'LL
MAKE ME COME CLOSER.
THEY CAN CONTROL
ME, AS WELL.

Richard says RIGHT.

Sandra says SO WE HAVE TO AGREE.
WE HAVE TO AGREE TO HAVE A
ONE-ON-ONE CONVERSATION,
THEM AND ME, SO THAT A
PERFORMANCE ACTUALLY
GETS BORNE OUT OF
THAT RELATIONSHIP.
WHEN IT'S VIDEO,
IT'S SOULLESS TO ME.
IT'S JUST FOR MONEY
AFTER A WHILE.
IT IS JUST FOR MONEY.
I WOULDN'T BE
DOING IT FOR ME.
I WOULDN'T BE DOING IT FOR,
YOU KNOW, AN AUDIENCE,
I'D BE DOING IT
FOR MONEY.
IT'S TERRIBLE TO
DO SHIT FOR MONEY.

Richard says AFTER A YEAR OR MORE,
ARE YOU IN PERFORMANCE
WITHDRAWAL AT ALL?
OR DID THAT
HAPPEN TO YOU?

Sandra says ACTUALLY, I HAD A
MOMENT THE OTHER DAY.
IT HAPPENS IN
BIZARRE WAYS.
I WAS AT THE GAP, AND
I WAS BUYING SHORTS.
AND THIS WOMAN AND I STARTED
HAVING THE MOST REMARKABLE
CONVERSATION, UNTIL I WAS
ACTUALLY LIKE TOTALLY
IN PERFORMANCE MODE.
I COULDN'T BELIEVE
HOW ARTICULATE I WAS.
YOU KNOW, I'VE BEEN
ALONE, RICHARD.
SO I DIDN'T SENSE WHEN
IT KIND OF SNAPPED IN.
AND THERE WAS THIS
YOUNG WOMAN LAUGHING,
AND I THOUGHT, I'M
DOING IT AGAIN,
AND THAT'S
REALLY GREAT.
BUT FOR ME, IT WAS JUST
AS EASY TO DO FOR ONE,
AS IT WAS TO DO
FOR AN AUDIENCE.
SO YEAH, I HAD
FUN WITH IT.
AND I HAD CALLED THE
END OF THE SABBATICAL.
I HAVE CALLED IT
FOR OCTOBER 1, '96.
SO IT'LL HAVE BEEN 18 MONTHS
BY THE TIME THAT FINISHES.
AND I DON'T HAVE WORK
LIKE RIGHT AFTER THAT.
ALL I'VE DONE IS SAID I'D
LIKE TO GO BACK TO WORK.

Richard says BUT WHAT WOULD THE MATERIAL BE?

Sandra says I HAVE NO IDEA.

Richard says OKAY.

Sandra says BUT JUST TO TELL YOU,
WHEN I WENT TO THE FRINGE
IN '87, I WROTE THE
SHOW ON A PLANE.
MY BOYFRIEND'S BACK,
THERE'S GONNA BE LAUNDRY,
I WROTE IT ON THE PLANE.

Richard says BUT YOU HAD LIVED IT
FOR X YEARS BEFORE.

Sandra says I'D LIVED IT, BUT EXCUSE
ME, WHEN SOMEBODY PAYS,
AND THEY'RE STARING
AT YOU IN EXPECTATION,
IT'S A LITTLE
BIT DIFFERENT.
YOU HAVE TO TAKE
THAT LIFE EXPERIENCE,
AND YOU HAVE TO
SQUIRT IT OUT.
AND THAT'S PRECISELY
WHAT I HAD TO DO.
I HAVE TO TAKE THE
EXPERIENCE OF THE LAST
18 MONTHS SOMEHOW, AND
I HAVE TO ARTICULATE IT
SOMEHOW, SO IT IS AN
APPROPRIATE FORUM
FOR A PERFORMANCE.
BUT I DON'T KNOW HOW I'M
GOING TO DO THAT YET.

Richard says BECAUSE IT TOOK
ROUGHLY 38 YEARS,
YOU GOT THREE SHOWS OUT OF -
THREE FULL-LENGTH SHOWS,
AND IT'S KIND OF LIKE
YOUR MATERIAL
WAS GOBBLING UP
YOUR LIFE.

Sandra says YEAH, IT WAS, KIND OF.

Richard says DID YOU SIT DOWN
ONE DAY AND SAY,
WHAT AM I GONNA DO NEXT?
WHAT IF THE MARRIAGE
HADN'T BROKEN UP,
AND YOU WERE STILL GOING
TO BE MISS COMEDIAN.
WOULD YOU HAVE HAD ENOUGH
TO TALK ABOUT THEN?
DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT
WOULD HAVE HAPPENED?

Sandra says I PROBABLY WOULD HAVE
SLID INTO OBSCURITY...
[laughs]
ON SOME LIQUOR-SLICKED
HIGHWAY TO HELL.
NO, I DON'T KNOW.
IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO PREDICT
WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED
IN THE EVENT, YOU KNOW.
I'M DELIGHTED THAT MY
RELATIONSHIP DISSOLVED.
I WASN'T AT THE TIME, BUT IT
WASN'T SOMETHING I WANTED,
BUT I REALLY LIKE IT NOW.
I THOUGHT, AT THE TIME, I
WAS THE ONLY ONE THAT
HAD EVER BEEN SEPARATED.
I THOUGHT I WAS THE
ONLY ONE -- AT THE TIME,
THESE SCENARIOS
ARE VERY ISOLATING.
IT'S TERRIBLE.
BUT LITTLE BIT, BY LITTLE
BIT, I FOUND OTHER PEOPLE,
THERE'S ACTUALLY ONE
OTHER PERSON IN CANADA
WHO HAS BEEN DIVORCED.

Richard says REALLY?

Sandra says YES.
WE'VE HAD LUNCH AND
I LIKE HER VERY MUCH.
AND SHE'S GOING TO
INTRODUCE ME TO SOMEBODY
IN TRINIDAD SHE KNOWS.
SO THERE ARE THREE
PEOPLE ON THE PLANET.

Richard says I WAS ALWAYS CURIOUS
WITH THE EARLIER SHOWS,
ALL THE STUFF YOU SAID
ABOUT YOUR FAMILY,
DID THEY EVER
COMPLAIN TO YOU,
OR CALL YOU A BITCH OR
ANYTHING LIKE THAT?

Sandra says NOT TO MY FACE.
AND CERTAINLY
NOT AT CHRISTMAS.

Richard says WHAT DID THEY EVER DO?

Sandra says NO, THEY DIDN'T
DO ANYTHING.
I TALKED TO MY
BROTHER ABOUT IT.
AND MY BROTHER SAID TO ME,
WELL, WHO SUES HISTORIANS?
SO MY BROTHER, I MEAN, HE
PUT IT IN PERSPECTIVE FOR ME.
BECAUSE I AM TALKING ABOUT
THINGS THAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED.
AND GENERALLY SPEAKING,
I THINK THAT'S WHY
AN AUDIENCE, THAT'S WHY
THE AUDIENCE CAME.

Richard says BUT MOVING INTO THE FUTURE,
I READ AN INTERVIEW WITH
YOU WHERE YOU SAID I DON'T
SAY ANYTHING ABOUT FRANK
IN MY SHOW NOW THAT
WOULD EMBARRASS HIM,
AND I LET HIM KNOW WHAT I'M
GOING TO SAY AND EVERYTHING.
OBVIOUSLY NOW THERE
HAS BEEN A DIVORCE,
AND MAYBE NOT THE MOST
PLEASANT ONE IN THE WORLD,
ARE YOU GOING TO EXTEND
HIM THE SAME COURTESY?
ARE YOU GOING TO RUN
THE STORIES BY HIM?
OR ARE THERE GOING
THE BE STORIES?

Sandra says I DON'T BELIEVE
THERE WILL BE ONE.
BECAUSE IT WASN'T HIS
DIVORCE I'LL BE TALKING ABOUT.
I'LL BE TALKING
ABOUT MINE.
SO YEAH WE WERE INTERMINGLED
FOR A VERY LONG TIME.
I HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT IT
A LOT, AND I ACTUALLY,
I ACTUALLY DON'T BELIEVE
I WILL SAY HIS NAME.
SO THERE WON'T BE ANY
CONFLICT OF INTEREST,
AND THERE WON'T
BE ANY, YOU KNOW,
CONFLICT OF CONTRACT OR
CONTRACTUAL AGREEMENT
OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT.
I MEAN, SIMPLY SPEAKING,
IT'S GOING TO BE ENTIRELY -
WELL, IT WILL BE
MY FIRST SOLO SHOW.
LIKE IT WOULD BE, IN
THE EVENT I PERFORM.
SAY, I'M JUST SAYING.

Richard says SAY.

Sandra says I'M NOT SAYING I'M
PERFORMING, BUT SAY I DO,
WELL, THEN, IT LITERALLY
WOULD BE MY FIRST
SOLO PERFORMANCE.
SO MY EXPERIENCE WILL BE,
JUST WON'T BE AVAILABLE FOR,
YOU KNOW, OTHER PEOPLE -
YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?
AND I CAN'T EVEN SPEAK ABOUT
IT WITH MUCH CONFIDENCE
BECAUSE IT'S TOO MUCH IN
A FUTURE I CAN'T REALLY
ENCOMPASS RIGHT NOW.

Richard says BUT YOU'RE NOT GOING TO DO
WHAT I THINK SOME PEOPLE
WOULD EXPECT,
WHICH IS, YOU KNOW,
YOU WENT UP TO THE MARRIAGE
AND HAPPILY EVER AFTER,
AND YOU'RE NOT GOING
TO START A NEW PIECE
WHICH BEGINS WITH, WELL,
HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED.

Sandra says WELL, I THINK I'LL TELL THE
AUDIENCE I GOT A DIVORCE.
IS THAT WHAT YOU
ARE SAYING?

Richard says OR ARE YOU GONNA FOLLOW
IT CHRONOLOGICALLY?
LIKE YOU TOOK US THROUGH
BETROTHAL AND SHOPPING
FOR THE DRESS, AND
GETTING READY,
AND DOING ALL OF THAT.
WILL YOU GO FROM THE, THIS
IS WHEN I KNEW IT WAS LOUSY?

Sandra says OH, NO, NO, NO.
[snoring]
PEOPLE REALLY WANT TO
PAY 25 BUCKS TO SEE THAT.

Richard says WELL, THEY WANTED TO PAY
50 BUCKS TO HEAR YOU TALK
ABOUT ALL THE OTHER STUFF.

Sandra says AND YOU KNOW WHAT?
I DON'T THINK I'D LIKE TO
BURDEN MY AUDIENCE
WITH THAT BECAUSE, TO
BE HONEST, RICHARD,
IF YOU START TALKING
ABOUT A TERRIBLE THING
THAT HAS HAPPENED TO
YOU, GENERALLY SPEAKING,
PEOPLE DON'T REMEMBER, OR
DON'T ACTUALLY HEAR WHAT
YOU ARE SAYING, THEY
ARE REMEMBERING
WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM.
AND THAT'S AN UNFAIR PLACE
TO TAKE AN AUDIENCE TO.
IT'S NOT WHERE I WANT
TO TAKE AN AUDIENCE.
I DON'T WANT PEOPLE TO
REMEMBER THE WORST
MOST DEVASTATING
EXPERIENCE OF THEIR LIFE.
I DON'T NEED THEM TO GO
THROUGH EVERY HIDEOUS LITTLE
MOMENT OF THEIR DIVORCE
BECAUSE I SURE
DON'T NEED TO GO
THROUGH IT MYSELF.
I THINK, GENERALLY
SPEAKING, THE WORD DIVORCE
IS NOT THE HAPPIEST WORD.
PEOPLE ALREADY KNOW THAT.
AND IN THE SAME WAY BIRTH
EVOKES A CERTAIN INTEREST
AND AWE AND JOY.
WORDS CARRY,
WORDS MEAN THINGS.
AND WE ALL HAVE
INVESTED THE SAME THING
IN CERTAIN WORDS.
NO, I DON'T THINK I'LL
GO THROUGH -- I DON'T
WANT TO GO THROUGH
IT ON STAGE.
HEY, IT'S A LONELY
PLACE UP THERE,
SO I'M NOT ABOUT TO
FALL APART IN FRONT OF
A BUNCH OF FOLK.

Richard says YOU SAID BIRTH.
I REMEMBER ONCE
BEFORE SOMEONE SAID
ARE YOU GOING TO
HAVE CHILDREN?
AND YOU SAID, I DON'T
NEED MATERIAL THAT BADLY.

Sandra says REALLY.

Richard says DOES THAT STILL LOOK
LIKE THE PROGNOSIS?

Sandra says I DON'T KNOW.
OH, GOD, TIME
OF LIFE, MAN.
HELLO, HELLO, MY NAME IS
SANDRA, I'M ABOUT TO BE 40.

Richard says YOU HEAR THAT BIOLOGICAL
CLOCK TICKING.

Sandra says I'VE ACTUALLY NEVER USED
MY UTERUS FOR ANYTHING.
IT HOLDS DOORS
OPEN VERY NICELY.
YOU KNOW, I
DON'T KNOW.
SOMETHING ABOUT,
ACTUALLY, YOU KNOW,
YOU'RE AMONGST ALL
THEM FARM FOLK,
WHAT WITH ALL THE NATURE
BLOOMING AROUND YOU,
YOU'VE GOTS HARDLY ANY
CHOICE AT ALL TO THINK,
WELL, YOU KNOW, I'M
PART OF NATURE, TOO.
IT OCCURRED TO ME.
IT FLITS THROUGH MY HEAD,
THE IDEA OF HAVING A CHILD.
I DON'T KNOW HOW FAST I
WANT MY HAIR TO GO GREY.
SO MAYBE THAT'LL BE A
DETERMINING FACTOR.
YEAH, ACTUALLY, MY AUDIENCE
IS MUCH SMARTER THAN I AM.
I'VE HAD SO MANY WOMEN COME
UP TO ME AND GO, WELL,
YOU'VE GOT TWO MORE SHOWS
THEN NOW, DON'T YOU?
I GO, WHAT?
THE DIVORCE SHOW
AND THE CHILD SHOW.
WHICH ONE OF
THESE COMES FIRST?
HOW DO YOU METER
THIS OUT?
AND I WOULD SAY
SOMETHING LIKE, WELL,
I'M NEVER GONNA
HAVE CHILDREN,
SO I'M NEVER GONNA
GET A DIVORCE.
I THOUGHT I WAS
PRETTY HOT.
BUT, YOU KNOW,
THE GODS.

Richard says SANDRA, YOUR TIME'S UP.

She mimics the act of smoking and in a different tone of voice says
YOU KNOW WE'VE BEEN
THINKING ABOUT THIS
HAPPINESS THING WITH YOU.
WE THINK IT'S ABOUT
TIME YOU STOPPED DOING
THAT HAPPY THING.
WHAP!
GUILLOTINE TIME.

Richard says WHAT ABOUT THE
COUNTRY AND THE FARM.
IS THAT ALWAYS GOING TO BE
ASSOCIATED WITH THIS YEAR
OF BURSTING INTO FLAME AND
DISCOVERING YOURSELF,
OR ARE YOU GOING TO
WANT TO STAY THERE?

Sandra says NO, I LOVE IT THERE.
I REALLY LOVE IT THERE.
AND I THOUGHT ORIGINALLY
THAT I WOULD HAVE REALLY
TERRIBLE THOUGHTS
ABOUT IT.
BUT SOMETHING ABOUT THE
EARTH JUST SUCKING
ALL THE HELL OUT OF
YOU, MAKES IT EASIER.
THIS HAS BEEN THE BEST
SUMMER OF MY LIFE.
I'M PART OF SOMETHING.
I GOT TO SEE MY
LAND FROM THE AIR.
AND I MEAN, WE'VE HAD
THE LONGEST WINTER,
THIS WINTER, IN
RECENT MEMORY.
SO I WAS ON A FARM IN
THE LONGEST WINTER
IN RECENT MEMORY.
AND MY ANGST GOING THROUGH
THAT WAS JUST, OKAY, OKAY,
QUIT THE HEAVY SHELLING
NOW, I'M TIRED.
BUT MY TENANT FARMER OFFERED
ME A RIDE IN HIS AIRPLANE,
AND I GOT TO SEE MY LAND.
I GOT TO SEE ALL
OF IT AT ONCE.
AND I GOT TO SEE MY LAND
ACTUALLY TOUCHES OTHER LAND.
AND IT JUST
KEEPING GOING.
AND I WAS ACTUALLY SO
RELIEVED TO SEE
THAT I WAS A PART
OF SOMETHING.
THAT I'D NEVER HAD THAT
EXPERIENCE IN THE CITY.
IN THE CITY, IT'S
VERY ISOLATED.
IT'S A VERY
ISOLATED PLACE.
WE ALL ISOLATE
OURSELVES.
IN THE COUNTRY, YOU KNOW,
EVERYBODY KNOWS WHO YOU ARE.
EVERYBODY SAYS HELLO, EVEN
IF THEY DON'T KNOW YOU.
YOU'RE DRIVING
DOWN THE ROAD,
AND THE GUY COMING
TOWARDS YOU GOES.
I LOVE THAT.
I LOVE THAT!
NOBODY DOES THAT
IN THE CITY.
EVERYBODY'S LIKE,
YOU KNOW, TOTALLY.

Richard says RIGHT.

Sandra says SO I'M ENJOYING DOING
SOMETHING THERE THAT IS
ABSOLUTELY NATURAL, WHICH IS
BEING PART OF A COMMUNITY.

Richard says WHEN YOU TALKED ABOUT GOING
UP IN THE PLANE AND LOOKING
AT YOUR FARM, AND SEEING
IT TOUCHED OTHER PLACES,
DID YOU DO THAT WITH
YOU THIS YEAR, TOO?

Sandra says OH YEAH.
OH YEAH.

Richard says WHAT DID SANDRA LOOK
LIKE FROM 3,000 FEET?

Sandra says WELL, SHE'S GOT
BLACK HAIR.
AND FEET.
WELL, I DON'T KNOW.
THE BIRD'S EYE VIEW
IS... IT'S HARD TO SAY.
IT'S VERY HARD TO SAY.
I DEFINITELY HAVE GOTTEN A
PERSPECTIVE ON SELF THAT
I WOULD NEVER HAVE GOTTEN IF
ALL THE EVENTS OF MY LIFE
HAD NOT CONSPIRED TO
PUT ME WHERE I WAS,
THAT I WOULD HAVE THE
OPPORTUNITY OF SILENCE AND
SOLITUDE TO ACTUALLY SIFT
THROUGH THAT EVERY DAY.
AND THE FORTUNE TO
NOT HAVE A FINANCIAL -
TO BE ALLEVIATED
FINANCIALLY FOR THIS LONG
SO THAT I WOULDN'T HAVE
TO CONCERN MYSELF.
I MEAN, REALLY, I
FEEL PRIVILEGED.
IT'S A BLESSING IN A HUGE
WAY THAT ALL THESE THINGS
CAME TOGETHER, LIKE
IN A TERRIBLE BEAUTY.
LIKE A TERRIBLE
BEAUTY IN A WAY,
AND ALLOWED ME TO
DO THIS THING.
IT'S GREAT SO FAR.

Richard says SANDRA, I'M GLAD
YOU FEEL THAT WAY.
AND I'M GLAD YOU ARE
GOING TO BE BACK WITH US,
IN WHATEVER
FORM IT TAKES.
I'M NOT GOING TO SAY
THERE'S A NEW SHOW.

Sandra says RICHARD, RICHARD.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
IT'S ACTUALLY
BEEN PAINLESS.

Richard says WE HOPE.

He faces the screen and says
SANDRA SHAMAS; SHE'S
FREE FROM SABBATICAL,
AND BACK TO JOIN
THE WORLD AGAIN.
WHATEVER SHE DOES, WE'RE
GLAD TO HAVE HER BACK.
FOR
DIALOGUE, I'M
RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
GOOD-BYE FOR NOW.

Music plays as the end slate reads “Dialogue. Special thanks to Limelight Theatre Toronto.”

A production of TVOntario. Copyright 1996, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

Watch: Sandra Shamas