The oldest of three children born to Lebanese immigrants, Shamas left home at age 17 and moved to Toronto, where she held a variety of jobs before a workshop at The Second City inspired her to pursue a career in performing arts. She acted with Second City and Theatresports, and worked as a puppeteer on the children's series Fraggle Rock before deciding to strike out on her own.
In 1987, she applied to the Edmonton Fringe Festival to perform her first show, My Boyfriend's Back and There's Gonna Be Laundry. The show, a mixture of personal stories drawn from her own life and observational humour about dating and relationships, was accepted and became the smash hit of the festival, and soon Shamas was on tour performing the show across the country.
In 1989, Shamas began performing the sequel, My Boyfriend's Back and There's Gonna Be Laundry II: The Cycle Continues. A third show, Wedding Bell Hell, dealing with wedding rituals such as the bridal shower and selection of the wedding rings and dress, made its debut in 1991.
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