Brandon Ash-Mohammed is a Toronto based comedian and event promoter. After graduating from comedy school (which is a real thing) he started to go out on the open mic scene, honing his stand up skills. One of the very first places he performed was Slacks, a lesbian bar in Toronto’s Village area, which was open from 1997-2013, and had a comedy night every Wednesday.
We caught up to discuss thanksgiving flavoured chicken wings, bombing on stage, and how within that venue he made life long friends…
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Brandon Ash Mohammed 00:00
And it was just kind of like a like a weird, dingy, open mic, but it was exclusively for queer people and women. And what happened was, my friend Catherine ran it and she ran it with that incentive. And all of these people, the comedy scene at the time was very, very, very, very, very just like hateful. So they were just like, How could you do this? What you’re doing is segregation. And she would get messages every single day about how she needs to let straight white men or so because she is adding to the divide. And they just be like, this is disgusting, blah, blah, blah.
K Anderson 00:46
Hello, I am K Anderson and you are listening to lost spaces, a podcast that mourns the death of queer nightlife. Every episode, I talk to a different person, about a venue from their past, the memories they created there, and the people that they used to know. Brandon ash Mohammed is a Toronto based comedian and event promoter after graduating from comedy School, which is a real thing, who knew he started to go out on the open mic scene, honing his stand up skills. One of the very first places he performed was slacks, a lesbian bar in Toronto’s village area, which was open from 1997 to 2013. And had a comedy night every Wednesday. We caught up to discuss Thanksgiving flavoured chicken wings, bombing on stage and how in that venue, he made lifelong friends.
Brandon Ash Mohammed 02:17
That was like the first place where I started performing. Because I want to, I guess I should add this. I went to comedy school. So I went to the school called Humber College. And they have a comedy writing and performance programme. And there. Yeah, that’s where I started performing. And that was like, the first time I had really been booked out of that programme and was regularly booked outside of that whole theme. The humberston. So what what,
K Anderson 02:49
like what was that cost? Like?
Brandon Ash Mohammed 02:52
It was a I started when I was like 17. And basically, they, they don’t teach you how to be funny. They chose teach, you had to kind of like hone your comedic voice. And like different things to do. Some of it is very useful. Some of it was not very useful. Like some of the things would be like, okay, like, this is a joke structure. This is the history of comedy. But then other things would be like, how can you make a mac and cheese with a coffee maker? If you’re on the road or something like that?
K Anderson 03:27
What like skills for living? It skills when you’re on the road? How to love baked beans. And that’s quite incredible. Ted, was there an audition?
Brandon Ash Mohammed 03:38
There was an audition. So it was like, I think it was I remember literally This is going to be the 10 year that I started coming up next week. But it was you had to write a sketch. And then you I think you had to write some sort of essay. And then you had to write Oh, yeah, then you had to do an audition and part of the audition was improv improv with these people and they just like kind of selected you and then you had to do like a one minute stand up piece.
K Anderson 04:09
Wow at 17 when you when you don’t know shit about the world, you have to like give your observation. No,
Brandon Ash Mohammed 04:17
I think I talked about I remember I talked about I don’t know. Do you guys remember? Peter Popoff miracle water.
K Anderson 04:26
Brandon Ash Mohammed 04:27
Okay, so I don’t know if you guys had that in the UK, but I don’t know how we had it in Canada. But what it was is there was this like televangelists Peter pop up i think is a was and he was selling this thing called miracle water. And it just came in this little like it looks like a like an old other lube. Like you don’t want to give you free lube. Oh, it can look like like a sachet. Yeah, and it was of like a special water that would give miracles that there would be like these. There would be these like fun ads every single night, or late at night. And they would just like, have these people be like, I got the miracle water. I was in depth $50,000 and all of that got a divine transfer of $100,000. All of my debt was paid off. And I was just like, oh my god, this is so cool. So I wrote like a joke about it and about how I I got the miracle water. And when I got it, there was nothing inside of it. It was empty.
K Anderson 05:33
Oh, gosh, that that’s scary stuff. And so then was that whole scene? Like really competitive?
Brandon Ash Mohammed 05:41
The Okay, yeah, it was like, I remember my first year at Humber. Everyone was so competitive or also mean, everyone was so hateful. It was a horrible time. I remember I wanted to leave the programme. And but then I remember, in my second year, I came back and I was just like, whoo, I got this, like, I’m ready for y’all. And then I like started, like rising and all these people that were so mean to me. I left them in the dust.
K Anderson 06:14
So you know, there’s that thing like how some people are naturally funny. And then some people that are kind of like, comedic, funny. And there’s just some people who don’t know the boundaries, and then they’re just trying to be funny all the time. Was it like that?
Brandon Ash Mohammed 06:31
At the beginning? Yes. And then I think they eventually toned it down. But it was really funny because everyone thought they were like, the funniest person that guess they had all be that been like, the funny kids and their school. And you quickly saw who was like, actually, like, talented at comedy, and who just like, was just like, Oh, I’m like a naturally funny person. Like, the divide was very quick,
K Anderson 06:58
ah, with for me comedy, and not being part of the comedy world at all. seems to be something that you’re just like, inherent like, you’re just either good, or you’re not yet. So were those? Did those people just like, end up bombing out? Or is it can you learn?
Brandon Ash Mohammed 07:15
I don’t even know. Like, I feel like all of the people who so out of the my class, I think there was like, 100 kids in my entire class out of all of the programme. I think only three people are still performing. And those three people, including myself, were like, we’re at the beginning of that programme, like seen as like, Oh, these people are, like, naturally funny, or like, are not naturally funny. They’re like, they’re like they have like, they are a comedian. Like they know what is happening.
K Anderson 07:50
Ah, that’s like, That’s incredible. They did like that conversion being so low.
Brandon Ash Mohammed 07:56
Yeah, I think it’s just the comedy is very, very, very, very, very hard. Yes. You’re 17. And in that programme, it was a mix of ages. So there was like, I was 17. Much of my friends were 17. But then one of my good friends from the programme. He was like, 26, when he started Yeah. And had like a whole career prior, there was another lady and she was 40.
K Anderson 08:21
Yeah, this is like a whole mix. And then that’s where you sharpened your teeth? No, what’s the phrase? That’s where
Brandon Ash Mohammed 08:34
it was kind of like, I don’t think I would have I was so painfully shy back then. And I think I don’t think I would have been able to do comedy. Had I just done it, how normal people do it, where they go to like an open mic and they start doing it like that, I wouldn’t have been able to do it like that, at that time.
K Anderson 08:52
And until it prepared you because it threw you in the deep end, but in like a safer environment.
Brandon Ash Mohammed 08:58
Yeah, essentially. Okay. I remember doing this set. And people would always like, make fun of people. Like, I heard this was at the very beginning of the programme, and people were still like, kind of like, Where’s the word where they’re like, sizing each other up? Yeah, I remember I was like, gonna do stand up. And everyone, all these people were like, looking at me, they were like, making this like, they would do this thing where it looked like they were like eating something. But it meant they were like, eating shifts. And that’s like, eating shit on me. And I saw them like, frequently do that to me, when I was like, about to like walk on stage. And I was like, I’m gonna let these bitches now. And then I went onstage. And I remember like, doing so well. And then these people were just like, and I was just like,
K Anderson 09:47
so this is so people are listening to this. Can you describe the movement for eating shit? Like what are the actions so it’s like you you you’re holding back King a deck to me. Yeah.
Brandon Ash Mohammed 10:02
Lady owning it and like pasting it and not liking it. Okay.
K Anderson 10:10
And that’s the universal. I don’t know if that is the answer though. Angelo, I love you, Angela. So that’s really interesting that you were painfully shy and still pursue this career. Did anyone try and talk you out of it?
Brandon Ash Mohammed 10:29
Um, my dad, and my parents kind of tried to talk me out of it, like, Oh, you should do that as like a hobby. You should become like a lawyer. But then I was like, No, I think that I’m funny. And I want to be an actor. But then I was like, This is like the best way to do this. How I found out about the programme was like, Yeah, I was planning on going to like a theatre school. And then I went through this college notebook, or like, whatever list of courses and I saw that there was like a comedy programme. And I looked at the comedy programme and people that I really liked. There was a show in Canada, that every all the like millennials, I say this, all the millennial Canadian millennials will know this show. It’s called it was called video on trial. I don’t think you’ll have it in the UK. But it was on the show called muchmusic, which is like, which was our equivalent to like, MTV, but then we had MTV Canada, very confusing. So basically, what they would do is they would take a music video, and they would have these different comedians. And they would all like, like, basically just like, read them to film, make jokes about them. And like, as the music videos played, and that was like a really big show. And I loved it. And one of the comedians that I saw, and it was this lady named Deborah de Giovanni. So because I saw that she was there, I was like, Okay, this programme is legit. And that’s how I decided to go to that comedy programme. We’re just like, looking back, I’m just like, that is like, had I known all of the things I know now. I don’t think I would have done the programme. Because to me, seeing Deborah Shivani on video on trial, I assume that she was this rich and famous comedian and made millions of dollars a year, so successful. But what I didn’t know is that she was a Canadian comedian. And I didn’t know that the Canadian Canadian industry was very eff up. And there’s no money in it. And yeah, but now she lives in LA and she’s very successful. So, okay, so maybe, yeah,
K Anderson 12:40
so maybe there is. But so you went through this process, and you like, honed your skills, and you were like, ready to take on the world. And that’s when you went to slacks for the first time.
Brandon Ash Mohammed 12:51
That was like, yeah, it was like, as I had graduated, what happened? Was this my friend, I met this girl, Natalie, Natalie Norman is like now who at the time didn’t really know that well, but I met her at open mic in the summer of 2011. And I guess she had known that I was gay. And
K Anderson 13:11
she listened going,
Brandon Ash Mohammed 13:12
Yeah. So she was not gay. She’s just like, she’s a straight. And but my friend was putting the show together, he needed comedians. So then she asked, he told my friend about me. But then my friend thought I was somebody else. my other friend Catherine, who wasn’t my friend at the time, she thought I was this other comedian, who was in my programme named witnesses named Brandon Traynor, who was like a straight white dude, but whatever. And she’s like, yeah, I’ve heard so much about you branded trainer. I was like, No, and Brandon ash Mohamed, and she’s like, Okay, well, you’re here. And I performed and she liked me. And then that’s how like, everything. Like, I just remember all the going to the the open mic being so nervous being like, everyone’s gonna hate me. And then literally, like meeting Catherine and Natalie, outside of the bar, them smoking. And then us just like talking, like, we had been friends for like, 20 years at that point. And that was like, that’s, I was like, this is where my life began. That’s where my current life began. That’s it.
K Anderson 14:17
But and were you aware of that on the day? Or is it just looking back?
Brandon Ash Mohammed 14:20
I was just like, No, no, at that day, I was like, these are my people.
K Anderson 14:26
Ah, that’s really powerful. So do you remember what your first set was?
Brandon Ash Mohammed 14:31
Not even really remember? I just remember them dying. I remember performing there several times after and also doing really well. And then all the other times after just like bombing horribly. I remember performing after Obama got reelected. I remember. Sometimes there would be like people would go would have parties but they wouldn’t tell us though we would like just try to do a stand up. Showing the middle of a party that had no idea that a stand up show was happening them normally wanted to happen. Like it would just be like us arguing with the audience member there was a lady Her name was Ellen and it was her retirement party. And
K Anderson 15:16
do you want to say anything to Ellen now?
Brandon Ash Mohammed 15:18
I was like, I didn’t say anything. My friend called her. Well, your God, British people like to say this, like my friend called her at cons. And I remember Faye was very upset. And Catherine ran the show was also very upset. But um, whatever. It’s close shortly after that, so.
K Anderson 15:41
But and so then. So it had it had a stand up night. I’m assuming if people were kind of coming in, without realising that it was a stand up. Yeah, it was free.
Brandon Ash Mohammed 15:54
Like some people knew about it. Sometimes people invite our friends and they would come. And yeah, that’s how it would work. But it wasn’t like, it honestly wasn’t. It wasn’t like, a special shit. Like it was a special show to me. But like, it wasn’t like the most amazing show of your life that you’ve never heard of. It was just like, a very. I was an open mic, essentially.
K Anderson 16:20
Okay. Okay. And I am assuming that you also perform in non queer venues? Yeah. What’s the kind of difference for you in the audience is
Brandon Ash Mohammed 16:32
so not queer? It’s very strange. So I find it depends on the demographic of the queer audience. I tend to do very well with lesbians and queer women where women love me or gay men of colour. I find that a majority of times when I perform more audiences that are predominantly gay, white men, I do not do well. And, but that’s also the thing that happens with gay men in comedy, is that gay men in comedy, always find that when they perform for other gay men, it doesn’t work. Like they don’t laugh.
K Anderson 17:09
And why do you think that is?
Brandon Ash Mohammed 17:11
My friend Andrew Johnson has a very good, like theory of it. You guys like Andrew Johnson guys should look Andrew Johnson. Oh, you know, you guys know, Katherine Ryan is, you know, Katherine Ryan is, you know, Catherine Ryan is
K Anderson 17:27
feeling a lot of pressure right now.
Brandon Ash Mohammed 17:29
Okay, no matter. Right? It’s like a very big comedian in the UK. But she’s from Canadian, and she’s very good friends with Andrew Johnson. But I just was going on si thing, but Andrew talks about how other gay men grow up as like, the anomaly in their community. So they’re kind of like the centre of the universe. And when a gay man does stand up in front of another one, sometimes the challenge is that, I don’t know. Have you ever, like, been in a social group? And usually, you’re the only other gay dude. And then another gay dude comes and you just feel like they’re like competing with you for some reason? Have you ever had that?
K Anderson 18:13
Ah, yeah, yeah,
Brandon Ash Mohammed 18:14
yeah. It’s like that. That is what that whole energy is there. It’s just like, oh, like, I’m the, I’m the baddest bitch. But it’s also like I was I just describe this, I don’t know, I feel like because at that time, and growing up for a lot of us, like gay media was so limited. And how we saw ourselves respected in the mainstream was so limited, that when we would see ourselves represented on stages, we kind of are like defiance of that. Or we’re kind of like, Oh, this is not what I think is how we should be represented. This is not what it is. There’s also aspects of like, like massage or the massage, like, how I just got this, like, I noticed that usually, when a gay man does well, on stage, he tends to either be a drag queen, or he has to be like classically attractive, like you would watch, we would watch like, straight women perform, like stumbled through their sets, make a bunch of like, half assed jokes and the gay men like, yeah, and then like someone like we perform, and we’d have all these just like very well written jokes, and they’d be like, they’re just gonna be giving aside that. But you said that queer men of colour
K Anderson 19:30
wouldn’t respond in that way.
Brandon Ash Mohammed 19:32
They don’t respond that to me in that way. I think that they’re more. I don’t know, I think because there’s so few people don’t understand that there’s so few like gay men of colour in general, compared to like gay men.
K Anderson 19:46
So it’s not it’s not that they don’t exist. It’s
Brandon Ash Mohammed 19:49
not that they don’t exist. It’s just that it’s like it’s completely different. Yes. Yeah. It’s a lot harder to be out. And yeah, there’s also just like a lower number because there’s more white people. So
K Anderson 20:00
Well Oh, yeah, okay. proportion. Yeah, yeah.
Brandon Ash Mohammed 20:03
I was like, already within two different minorities.
K Anderson 20:06
What? And so, see, this is just really interesting because I totally get what you’re saying about queer men.
Brandon Ash Mohammed 20:14
There’s like a competitiveness that Yeah, I’m gay. A lot of you men have with each other that I don’t really understand. But okay. It’s also like, a lot of gay men have been conditioned to hate themselves. And when they see that, again represented, it’s just kind of like, I hate
K Anderson 20:34
it. Yeah, totally. But then if you’re extending that argument, then queer men of colour have that additional kind of
Brandon Ash Mohammed 20:42
time? I think because there is so because I don’t notice it. Because most of my friends that have had this experience are white gay men that have had it with most queer audiences. And most queer audiences are white gay men. Now with me, as I’m the only like, gay black man, that does stand up in Canada. So when I is that in your buyer, that is that, and people don’t believe me, but I’m just like, Google it.
K Anderson 21:12
Well, what’s gonna happen? what is gonna happen when another black man comes along?
Brandon Ash Mohammed 21:17
Welcome. Welcome to the party. With let me break it down for good. I’ll take you under my wing. Yeah, always, like, I started my show. I do a lot of like, work like that. And I try to do a lot of work like that in my community, especially like, I started, Canada’s first and really only comedy show that exclusively features queer comedians of colour, called the ethnic rainbow, look it up. And I forgot what I was talking
K Anderson 21:47
about. So you were talking about your colleagues that are white?
Brandon Ash Mohammed 21:51
Okay. Yeah. So when they have that experience, they are mostly just performing for people that are like them. So I don’t think that they even actively notice gay men of colour in the audience. Because it’s usually like one or two. So they’re not like thinking about like, Oh, what is like this person doing? Man? That is what I’m thinking about. I’m like, Where are my people? Like, let me go look for my people. And then all the times after shows when I performed, and I felt like I’ve done horrible I will have, like, gay men of colour that I didn’t see be like, Oh, my God, we loved it so much. I think maybe I maybe they are like that with maybe they’re like the gay white man. I don’t know. But I think that because there’s just so few gay men of colour that when we see each other, we always like really show up each other for each other. And I think that’s also it’s different. Because when you are black, and you see other black people, you always want them to succeed. You know what the struggle is like? So there’s that and I think that’s kind of what that cancels out. The internalised homophobia, repetitiveness, yeah, you’re just like, Yo, this is my my sister, like, when this. There’s also like a history of that, like with the whole ball scene that how the whole ball scene was created was from gay men of colour being excluded from the mainstream. So
K Anderson 23:16
yeah, and I’m not saying like, I’m not trying to conflate them and say that they’re exactly the same thing. But the majority of gay white men will have experienced being excluded. Yeah. So why is their response so very different? I mean, I’m not I’m not asking for the I don’t know the answer to that question.
Brandon Ash Mohammed 23:35
I don’t believe but I think that that Yeah. Cuz they’re performing for people that are, I don’t know, that I guess gay. Male culture is very different, especially. Because I feel like the struggles between gay white men and gay men of colour are also very different. Yeah. But I think that is also the thing. That’s like, also, like a really big factor in that.
K Anderson 24:00
Yeah. I mean, there’s just too many gay white man isn’t there?
Brandon Ash Mohammed 24:03
There’s a lot of there’s a lot of I don’t like doing queer shows, because of, not because I just because I constantly I like doing queer shows, when I know that it’s going to be like, a very, like queer femme, like, women show because I know that they don’t really have that. And they’re always just very like welcoming with me. Like, whenever I get to open for like, the a female queer comedian. I’m always just like, Yo, I got this. She has like a very big, like, queer female audience. I’m like, Okay, I’ll be fine. But when it’s just like, a queer comedian that I know has a very big, predominately white gay male audience. I’m like, I’m scared.
K Anderson 24:50
This like this is my experience as well, but because I’m like a musician who plays acoustic guitar when he gigs, I’ve always kind of explained it in that way. Like You know, women are conditioned to like Indigo Girls and only to Franco so they’ll get me and and gay men are pushed towards dance music. So they’ll just be like, Man, I’m not I’m not into that. What happens to you? Yeah, yeah. Like her. Yeah, like where? like where are the four to the floor beat? Like I’m not taking this. Alright, so where where are we? We’ve really not gone to slack very much. Oh no, but I really wanted to ask you this thing about bombing, a bomb, it happens. It happens. It’s just this thing. But how do you then leave without hating yourself for the next week?
Brandon Ash Mohammed 25:41
Oh, you don’t you hate yourself. You just, I’ve done a lot better at it like before it would like destroy me. Especially when it happens. Like consistently. Like when I was sick a couple months ago, like at March, I lost the ability to hear, though, when I would do stand up.
K Anderson 26:01
So you can’t hear them booing.
Brandon Ash Mohammed 26:03
No, it’s not good. Because you’re doing your jokes. You can’t hear people laughing at you. So it just feels like that you’re bombing? And if you feel like you’re just bombing consistently, or just like, oh, what am I doing with my life? Like, he’s like work, you have to constantly just like work through that. It gets better now like now, when I bomb I’m just like, Oh, it was a time. Sometimes it’s sometimes it’d be like that. And I’m like, Okay.
K Anderson 26:28
And I try to move on it, sir. Yeah, like some days, you can just be like, Oh, well wasn’t my day. And then some days, it’s just like, oh my god, I don’t even know what to do with. Yes. And yeah, I’d really like to not have that feeling. But, but that’s that’s life. And I’d say you didn’t pick slacks specifically, because you were like, I want to buy me. slacks pick? Do you? Can you describe what it’s like physically, like,
Brandon Ash Mohammed 27:00
we look through the front door, I’m trying to like see if I can remember this. A very visual memory. And I can see what I’m like, what I would see when I was on stage. So you have the front door, all of the like front side of the buildings or like glass windows put in the door. And then there was just kind of like a table and chair section with like couches, and maybe some like, cool, like neon sculpture type things. And then you walk in further straight and there’s just like tables, tables, just simple tables. There was a whole questions. Like, questions?
K Anderson 27:39
How do I describe this cushion chair section, like, like encouraging people to like, lie on top of one another type thing.
Brandon Ash Mohammed 27:48
Kind of like that, like that, like in those booths. But it wasn’t a booth, it was just like, I guess one side was part of the booth. And that led to the kitchen. And then next to that, there was like the bar on the opposite side of like, while these other tables were and then up to the bar. And then there was like the stage and it was kind of like in the middle of the of the bar. But like the way that the bar was laid out. Like there was like a brick wall. So it was like there was like a brick wall. And you were like when you were on stage that was like your backdrop was like the brick wall. But then there was the booth on the side for the the sound and then it was like a law there was like a hallway type thing but it was just like where the tables were. That was like the kitchen that was kind of like what it was it wasn’t like It Wasn’t it was very black. I remember a lot of it was very black. Like very like chic like black like it was just like love barstools.
K Anderson 28:57
Okay. And and did you go there when you weren’t performing?
Brandon Ash Mohammed 29:02
Occasionally, occasionally we would meet up there. But mostly it would be like every Wednesday night the whole crew would get together and we would go to do slacks and then we’ll go to zippers and zippers used to be a gay bar on in the village and no longer exists anymore. And they would have that would be the drag Knights the drag kid night and we would watch straight kings perform. Ah, okay, that was the first time I saw drag kings or I don’t even know that they
K Anderson 29:32
had that and it was really cool. And that was your standard Wednesday go and do an open mic slot and then go out. Yeah. So then what do you do? Like do you just bounce like when when your slot goes terribly?
Brandon Ash Mohammed 29:44
No, we would just like sit around and then when you were at slaps, you’ll get a free drink for performing. So you’d have like your drink a free drink it nasty. Yeah, you would talk to your friends you hang out. Some of us would have our birthdays there remember Catherine’s? 30th birthday was there?
K Anderson 30:05
Do you remember the very best performance you did there?
Brandon Ash Mohammed 30:10
Yeah, I remember. That was the first time I saw I met my friend Marilla Marella wax. She’s also from the UK. And I remember she was laughing so hard. I remember there was this other gay comedian and he was giving he was looking me up and down real nasty. Like, as I was performing, and I just like killed. I remember that so well. But I met like literally all of like my close friends at that club. Or at that bar. All of the people that I have been best friends with for like almost like, like five to eight years. They’re from that bar.
K Anderson 30:45
Ah, so So whilst the audience might not have like lap lap two up. You’ve got to meet a lot of other queer.
Brandon Ash Mohammed 30:52
Yeah, a lot of comedians are like, these were the people that were said, Oh, no, like this person has like some sort of talent. led to so many different other different things like I feel like that helps lead to like my shows, that helped lead to my friend Natalie’s show. The Crimson wave, like a very big iconic feminist comedy show that happens every Sunday at comedy bar for the last like, five, six years. And yeah, it’s just like it really had a whole effect on our comedy scene, I think
K Anderson 31:30
I’d say so this this set where you killed it. What were you talking about?
Brandon Ash Mohammed 31:37
I don’t even remember. I honestly don’t remember it? I don’t know. I think it was like my old jokes, which I don’t even remember.
K Anderson 31:48
How does it work when you’re a comedian? Because when you’re like a musician, you’re like, Okay, well, I have these songs. And I’ll pick a few of these songs. And I’ll play them. It’s like the same thing. It’s like the same thing. But then how do you like, knit them together?
Brandon Ash Mohammed 32:02
I don’t know. You just like I kind of like to do it, like kind of like a story. And one thing leads to another. Hmm, that’s there’s like some sort of like narrative. But I think back then what I used to do, make sure that none of them were connected. So that was like, funny when you would jump from like, one subject to a subject that had nothing to say something like that. Like, everything’s like very intentional. And either want to create some sort of narrative, or do something in a way that creates like, comedic effect.
K Anderson 32:34
Yeah. Yeah. And, and so say, the opposite of best performance ever. Do you remember your worst performance ever there?
Brandon Ash Mohammed 32:42
I think it was the time Elon performed or not Elena Elin, like the comedian performed, I think it was when Ellen, the person showed up, I remember her and with her whole party, and then my friend called them a con to them, we have gotten so much trouble.
K Anderson 32:57
This is the older lady.
Brandon Ash Mohammed 32:59
Yeah. And then I think I was like, gonna headline this show or something. And I were, I was doing a joke about something. I remember what it was about me being Canadian in America. And then the person that performed me to the joke with the exact same punch slide, and I was looking for a candidate that was going to be my closer. I remember just like panicking, and just be like, Oh, I bombed. And just feeling like I’ve embarrass myself in front of the like, the who’s who of like, Toronto comedy, but they really weren’t. But I felt really embarrassed.
K Anderson 33:40
What say you’d like you freaked yourself out before you even went onstage? Yeah, yeah. That’s, that’s shared. You’re just there? Like, I just want to get off. Yeah, yeah. And so I generally ask people, if there was anyone that they flirted with, or maybe made out with in the venue that we’re talking about, are there is there anyone that you
Brandon Ash Mohammed 34:02
do? There’s one dude that this is a way to tell the story, and not sound arrogant, but Okay, so what’s the story? There’s just one dude that I met. And he laughed at my jokes so much, or whatever. I think we had talked on Grindr. And we were gonna meet up one day, and then he was like, do you have nudes? And then I said to him, like, a picture of my D. And then he was just like, yeah, that’s what this is. That’s like too much for me. And yeah, so we didn’t end up
K Anderson 34:40
working was this good to do with slacks? Are you discouraged? Because he was talking to you after he said he didn’t want you
Brandon Ash Mohammed 34:50
know, it was before. That’s how I met him. He saw me performance slacks and that’s how like, oh, and
K Anderson 34:55
Jamie started Okay, sorry. I wasn’t following
Brandon Ash Mohammed 35:00
That was him. And then I still see him sometimes that my other friends show it. It’s weird, but he said that, like, it was too much for him. But it’s not really that like, impressive. He couldn’t just like, just,
K Anderson 35:13
like cop it too. Or like, he’s just like, flat out. No. I can’t deal with all of that. I mean, he’s just not ambitious. He’s not ambitious enough. Yeah, not ambitious. So that, yeah, forget him. So what who was the other guy?
Brandon Ash Mohammed 35:30
Um, well, this was at like, this wasn’t technically at slack. It was like after slacks. It was like outside of slack. What are just like magnitude? When we’re both like teenagers, I think I was 19 that he was like, 18. And then yeah, we did some stuff in a park.
K Anderson 35:50
Was he ambitious enough? He was ambitious. Okay.
Brandon Ash Mohammed 35:55
He would have been like, if he had seen what he had. You will be like, you know, where I’m not speaking to this man ever again.
K Anderson 36:03
Brandon Ash Mohammed 36:05
I was just saying that this man had a huge penis. And he had a huge beam. Oh, yeah. I met in the park.
K Anderson 36:11
Oh, and so the other guy would have been like, the guy just totally out of the room. I’m like, yeah. Ah, right. Well, this might have gotten a bit weird.
Brandon Ash Mohammed 36:21
This look, you asked that I remember where he said that. But obviously, it’s really not that like impressive. But okay, sure. Why not? If that’s what if that’s the reason why you don’t want to Sure.
K Anderson 36:35
Do you have this weird thing where people see you perform? And then they’re like, Oh, I really want to like get to know you more. And then they get to know you more. And they’re like, oh, oh, you’re kind of just an ordinary person.
Brandon Ash Mohammed 36:47
Yeah. Isn’t that annoying? Or people like your thought is like fun. They don’t say that. But that’s how I feel.
K Anderson 36:54
Yeah, like, I
Brandon Ash Mohammed 36:55
thought you’d be like, you know, at 100 all the time. Why do you not know I’m a regular person. It’s very tiring to be like that all the time.
K Anderson 37:05
It’s really yeah, it’s really weird. Like, you just feel like, there’s something wrong with you. But it’s them who has it all twisted.
Brandon Ash Mohammed 37:13
People say weird things to me, I’ll get people like, I’ve like I’ve had one person be like, You robbed me of RuPaul. And I’m just like, you’re just saying that because black.
K Anderson 37:24
Were they able to expand on that, though?
Brandon Ash Mohammed 37:27
And then another person was like, you might be a bit of hiatus from Kimmy Schmidt and I was okay. I was just like, yeah, I’m just like, you’re just a naming gay black people. are gay black men specifically and being like, that’s you?
K Anderson 37:42
Oh, my God. Why would I mean, first of all, why would you ever say to someone you’ve remind me of someone because what are they going to do with that information? Like, oh,
K Anderson 37:54
brilliant. Thank you so much. But at least you know, have some kind of something to back it up. Oh, people? Yeah. Right. Okay, so slack. Do you remember hearing about it closing?
Brandon Ash Mohammed 38:12
I remember I heard rumours of it. Like it was gonna close. And then we had a pride show or something. Arrange for it. And we were supposed to do it. Within the bar close. Then last minute, we did it at comedy bar, which is like the big comedy venue in Toronto. I believe anyone’s throat so but I remember Yeah, being like sad that it close and hearing but I because it was fun. Those are pretty good food. I liked the food. Okay,
K Anderson 38:45
quickly. Tell me about the food. What did they sell? It
Brandon Ash Mohammed 38:47
was just like normal bar food. But I thought it was really good. Chef was really nice. There’s this cool like black lesbian with dreads. And I remember she made really amazing wins. There was these wings that they sold there. And they were called like Thanksgiving wings. The basically it was like the chicken wings were I guess like roasted like a turkey. Or like in whatever seasonings they do for that. And then on top of it, it was served on top of it with like stuffing. And cranberry sauce. I remember those are really good.
K Anderson 39:23
And were there year round?
Brandon Ash Mohammed 39:25
Yeah. And there was like a wink night every single night night. It wasn’t a wing in Bingo.
K Anderson 39:31
Oh, dirty. Bingo. Oh, yeah, it
Brandon Ash Mohammed 39:34
was dirty. Bingo. That’s what it was. That’s what it was. You look that I write that down. Yeah. Bingo. And if you want to win win, like sex toys. Oh, okay. And I remember one time I like one one. And I think this is what I smoked a tonne of weed. And I like took it out of the package. But then I was like, oh, heavy stuff to leave. So I just like took it out of the package and like I was like, I’m gonna hide it from my so like, my grandmother doesn’t find And then completely left the package of a bed. And then what was like What was it a Delta? It was like a guild some sort of dildo or something? I don’t know. And then and then I don’t think I even use it. And then I just remember be like, Oh, no, I left it on the back. I’m gonna find it. And then just find it like, like, pleasantly, like, put in my garbage can just like,
K Anderson 40:29
yeah. And then like, and then is it just never spoken about again,
Brandon Ash Mohammed 40:34
just never spoke. And it was like, I couldn’t even say anything like, oh, what’s something else? Because it was just like, literally, like, it was like the plastic casing in the plastic with like
K Anderson 40:45
the with the veins popping out. I mean, what could you have said that was? I mean, it’s too late now, but like, some kind of kitchen utensil of some sort. Anyway, for next time, like that’s next come up with a name. And but say the venue closing. You said it, like disclosed suddenly
Brandon Ash Mohammed 41:11
it just closed suddenly. What was just I don’t know what happened. I think it was. I heard that the owners were very wealthy and they lived in this area. Have you guys know what the Hey, you know what the Hamptons are? Yeah. So I think they lived to the equivalent of I guess our Hamptons, which are, is this area called Muskoka. And that’s what I heard about them. And I heard that they had they, the business wasn’t doing that well. And they owed everybody they owed, like something like, I don’t know, if it was a hundreds of 1000s dollars worth of rent or like $60,000 worth of rent
K Anderson 41:52
a lot around.
Brandon Ash Mohammed 41:53
It was a lot of right. And because of that they just like got shut down. I don’t even think I remember at one point the kitchen had just close. They wanted to order something. They’re like the kitchens closed. So like what happened to like they didn’t pay the chef’s or something.
K Anderson 42:06
Oh, wow. So the bar was still running.
Brandon Ash Mohammed 42:08
But the bar was the running, but the chefs were not being paid. And I think they just like screwed over a lot of people or something. And that’s what happened. It wasn’t getting enough support. And yeah, but from what I’ve read, there’s just like, not lesbian bars, just like they have. People aren’t supportive of, and they don’t tend to they aren’t able to last as long as the gay bars are. For some reason. I don’t know.
K Anderson 42:37
Yeah. Well, that’s what I was gonna ask like, so what, like, Did anything spring up to No,
Brandon Ash Mohammed 42:43
no, nothing. The village right now is going through a change. And we’re seeing that there’s like, originally, there was like spreading outside of the village. And there was kind of like the queer West scene. I saw that you did an episode about the Beaver. Yeah. So like there was things like the Beaver. My friend, Mikey Casella, who I was gonna tell you about. She used to run a venue called the flying beaver pub array. And it was like, kind of like a queer like, cabaret space slash bar slash cafe. And it burned down. She doesn’t know what happened. It just like, burnt down. But people think that she burns it to get the insurance money, but no, but things like that have, like popped out and they were really big. But anyways, it’s just like very, very, very expensive to live in the village now. So because of that, it’s really hard for places to spring up like essentially all of the old gay bars from whatever have clothes, or they’re being posed to build, like condos. There was a there’s a venue and repayments venue still open. It’s called church in Tango. And it’s on attrition, Taylor cruise and Tango, sorry, who’s in Tango, and they were going to tear it down to build a condo. But then all these people rallied. And now they’re like protecting it. They’re building the condo around this building. The village is kind of like slowly being drained of everything.
K Anderson 44:17
Yeah, a bit. And the only way you can survive is to be a destination venue, rather than just like a local pub. Yeah. So what what difference did slacks make to your life?
Brandon Ash Mohammed 44:36
It literally gave me all of my friends. And I think it was really the first place where the Toronto comedy scene and I guess, like, larger Canadian comedy scene, saw me and it was really the only place where I don’t where I was able to speak to be fully myself on stage and allowed me the opportunity to do that. So that I could take that to other venues around. I guess, the country it really just like gave me a community. I think that’s really was the most important thing that it gave me a community.
K Anderson 45:17
Did you ever go to slacks? Well, if you did, please tell me all about it. You can find me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, all the usual with the user name K Anderson music. And just tell me your stories. I want to hear them. You can also find out more about Brandon by giving him a follow on Instagram. His user name is Brandon, a comedy and his comedy album Capricorn occation. I hope I said that right is out now to buy and stream. Last spaces is not only a podcast, but a concept record as well. I’ve been writing songs about queer venues and the people who used to live their lives there. And we’ll be releasing songs over the coming here. You can hear the first single well groomed boys which is also playing underneath my talking right now on all streaming platforms. If you liked this episode, I would really appreciate if you subscribed, left a review on Apple podcasts or just told people who you think might be interested in hearing it to. I am K Anderson and you have been listening to lost spaces