There are very few times in life that you instantly connect with someone over social media and the telephone. Recently, I was lucky enough to get introduced to a young comic from Fort McMurray Alberta that I instantly liked.
As a child, I was taught not to judge a person by the colour of their skin, their sexual orientation or their gender. I was taught to judge people by their kindness towards others, their heart and spirit. As an adult I added to my requirements on judging people on how much they make me laugh, and if we feel like old friends when we meet.
Ms. Cindy Rivers meets all my requirements as a friend, Cindy is kind, has a huge heart and a strong spirit that she wears on her sleeve, sometimes to her detriment. Plus Ms. Rivers is funny, hardworking young comic who is getting noticed in Canada and the USA not a small feat especially when you do not live in a major Canadian city.
So, this begs the question of who is Cindy Rivers and how did she become Cindy Rivers and a fast-rising Canadian Stand-Up Comic? Ms. Cindy Rivers was born in Port Blandford, Newfoundland with a population of about 550 people. Cindy was born into the wrong gender and was bullied quite a bit growing up. Ms. Rivers remembers; “I used comedy as a defence mechanism, and I was very quick witted and maybe didn’t know when to stop talking.” Cindy continues;” My dad tries to be funny sometimes, ‘you know in the funny dad way’, but it’s very enjoyable to watch him make people laugh, it’s a good feeling.”
After high school Cindy moved to Fort McMurray and took a labour job. With hard work and some schooling Ms. Rivers was able to move up in the work ranks during a 10-year period. Her final position was as large oil sands company as operations supervisor for materials management, she managed many storage locations and 70+ employees. As we can see hard work is a defining quality of Cindy Rivers.
All of us made changes it our lives and then follow the new road that has been mapped out by the different circumstances we find ourselves in. At age 30 Cindy Rivers made a life changing decision to come out as transgender. Cindy states, “I was severely depressed and couldn’t deal with my hidden secret. I attempted suicide and failed. I decided to come out after that and live as my true self. I hated myself before I came out and didn’t want anyone to see me.”
There are consequences to any decision a person makes, and Ms. Rivers was no different. She was let go from her position at the oil sands company. Now jobless for a while and having a difficult time finding a job. Cindy got hired as a community educator, giving presentations on lgbtq inclusion, sexual education, and opioid awareness / naloxone trainer. She met her life partner Kathy and decided to pursue her dream of trying stand-up comedy. Cindy told the author [David Reuben] comedy was always a big part of her life and wanted to try it but back home in Port Blandford, Newfoundland it was never a realistic dream. In Fort McMurray it was not a reality till she came out as transgender. Kathy states; “Comedy was a bucket list item for Cindy” Ms. Rivers remembers; “I always wanted to try comedy but never could until I came out. I got invited to open for a drag show and it went well, so I did another, and another, and I was on my way. I started doing Open mic’s and other shows. As a transgender comedian sometimes I’m very scared how the crowd might react, or an individual might react.” The crowds reacted positively because the author [David Reuben] believes funny is funny.
Unfortunately, this did not go as smoothly in Cindy Rivers daily life.” I’ve been sexually assaulted and jumped by 3 people,” While doing comedy Cindy has never had a bad reaction. “Even though it’s always been ok it’s still a thought and worry. There are also shows and events that I know I must avoid because they are notoriously trouble.”
As the author [David Reuben] mentioned earlier in the article, Cindy Rivers has an unbelievable work ethic. Cindy’s good friend and fellow stand-up comic Justin Shaw told the author [David Reuben] that Cindy’s little Jeep put on many kilometers over the last 3 years traveling to open mics and paid shows through out Western Canada. Justin says; Cindy is fearless on stage, educates the audience, and has real joy while performing. She is a real person who you cannot help but cheer for.” Both Kathy and Justin say that over the last 3 years her stage presence and writing style have improved with this dedication and hard work.
Comedy is a tough business and show business is a huge mountain to climb, but Cindy says; “I can never quit. When I found comedy, I found my missing piece. The struggles, issues, and bad times are growth and learning. Even if I don’t realize it at the time. I like to call my act accidentally educational. I talk a lot about my life and transgender stuff but in a way, that’s appealing to everyone. I like to get all types of audience members on my side. Many times, people have approached me after a show to say that was great and they’ve never met a transgender person before and it’s cool and likeable. It’s a great thing to see people becoming ally’s and friends. I’ve been a comic for 3 years. I put a ton of work in and hit as many stages and shows as I can, 150+ per year.”
Today Cindy’s life is very busy because all the hard work in the last 3 years is starting to pay off and she is starting to get noticed in Canada and the USA. As well, Cindy has a part-time job as FOH manager and volunteer coordinator at Keyano Theatre in Fort McMurray, and she still does public speaking, about lgbtq+ inclusion and diversity. “I’m also educated in paleobiology, never got to work in the field but I know my dinosaurs.”
Kathy her partner of three years tries to make as many of Cindy’s shows as possible while holding down a full-time day job and looking after their home when Cindy is away pursuing her comedy dream. Sound to the author [David Reuben] that Kathy and Cindy have a busy happy life in Fort McMurray.
Kathy told the author [David Reuben] that the last year and a half Cindy has really made some headway in the business of comedy and the hard work is starting to pay off. In October 2019, Cindy performed at the Los Angles Diversity in Comedy Festival. Also, in 2019, she was selected for the top 100 for the CBC next up national comedy competition. As well as the Las Vegas laughed out comedy festival.
Ms. Cindy Rivers has not slowed down in 2020 and was invited to Las Vegas for another festival and performing at the LA comedy club in the stratosphere hotel. Cindy got selected to perform at JFL Northwest on February 24, 2020, opening for Ms. Hannah Gadsby. Yet Cindy is her usual self in amazement of her good fortune. “As the day gets closer, I feel more and more excited. How the heck did I get here!!! JFL Northwest. Feb 24th. Orpheum theatre. Vancouver. Opening for the truly amazing Hannah Gadsby. Just. Just. Just. Wow.”
“I always felt that things like this couldn’t happen to people like me. I’m from a little 600-person town in Newfoundland. I came out as transgender at 30 years old. I worked in oil. But here we are. Heading to JFL Northwest to open for Hannah Gadsby. Plus, all the other amazing shows. Unbelievable.”
When not working Cindy spends her down time with Kathy, her two children, and other friends and family in Fort McMurray. Cindy says. “I love to kayak, play guitar, and draw/sketch. Although I don’t get to do them much anymore, I’m usually busy working. I travel for most gigs and am pretty booked up most times, so I also really enjoy driving and listening to music. I also love to cook and build guitars.”
Other shows in the future may include New York City, Las Vegas, and Southern Ontario. Cindy Rivers will not stop until she concurs every comedy stage available to her. As the author [David Reuben] has stated, Cindy has an amazing work ethic.
To find out more about Ms. Cindy Rivers visit her Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/cindy.rivers.12382
Mention you found out about Ms. Cindy Rivers on www.thecomedygreenroom.com