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Tough gal Kirsten Rasmussen boxes her way to hilarity at the Fringe Fest

It’s all fun and games until someone gets punched in the face. However, Kirsten Rasmussen is just so damn funny, that even her mean right hook is bound to elicit laughter. Perfecting a comedic TKO is just one of the things keeping Rasmussen busy these days, as she preps her show Tough!, a solo performance about a female boxer, for Montreal’s forthcoming Fringe Festival. Though it had a brief, introductory workshop run at the Théâtre Ste. Catherine last February, Rasmussen has since taken the one-woman show to Australia after receiving an invite to the prestigious Adelaide Fringe Festival.

The Saskatchewan-born comedian, playwright, and co-founder of Montreal Improv says that while performing in Adelaide, she found herself rewriting scenes every night, continuously honing her craft. By the time it’s curtain call in Montreal, she hopes that Tough! will have a new ending. Furthermore, though her talented piano-man Jeff Louch was unable to join the show down under, Louch’s musical accompaniment is integral to the next incarnation of Tough! This symbiosis is important when Rasmussen shows off her pipes. She says, "As a singer, it’s way better to have a live musician. You can follow one another, be spontaneous, and draw things out when you want to."

After making Montreal home base in 2010, things got off to a bit of a rough start for Rasmussen. However, with steely reserve, she staked a place in the local comedy scene, appearing with groups like Uncalled For, The Bitter End, and On the Spot. Her perseverance mirrors that of another fighter, a fictitious boxer that Rasmussen studied at length: Rocky Balboa. She admits to watching all of the Rocky movies while doing research for Tough!, but the lore of Stallone was equally inspiring to the comedian. Stallone, who wrote his debut performance, was turned down to play the very character he created. Undaunted, he refused to sell the script until he found a producer that would cast him as Rocky. Rasmussen relates to this tenacity. "I audition for things all the time and don’t get the part. I’ve always been a writer, so never getting hired is what pushed me to write and produce stuff for myself. If they won’t give you the work, make it yourself!"

This summer, Rasmussen will also take the reins of the Fringe Festival’s late-night talk show The 13th Hour. Though she’s equal parts excited and nervous about the gig, Rasmussen promises the Fringe staple will be a great time. "The 13th Hour is about the artists who have to showcase their performances, and it’s about the party. If there are two things that Montreal can do, it’s have artists and party."



1. Sylvester Stallone 

He was living out of his car with his dog, totally broke, and still going to auditions.

2. Lucia Rijker

A Dutch female boxer featured in the documentary Shadow Boxer.

3. My best friend Amy Shostak
the artistic director of Rapid Fire Theatre. Comedy is often a boys’ club. Amy weaves through the nonsense with such a positive and generous attitude.

4. My eldest sister
She’s a pediatric neurologist. She has amazing perseverance in the face of constant tragedy.

5. My Grandma!
She’s 90 and still pushes herself to learn new things every day. She always says, «You got to be TOUGH to get old!»


Montreal Fringe Festival
June 4 to 24