This post is a long-time coming because I've always wanted to wax poetic on the many many talented comedians in Toronto. From the improv to the stand-up to the sketch scenes, comedy is alive and well in Toronto, and almost every night of the week offers the city a chance to catch these jokesters in action.
If you ever see these names on a comedy set list, no matter where or when, GO THERE! I'm a big fan of: Kayla Lorette, Becky Johnson, Bob Banks, Peter Stevens, Ryan Belleville, Templeton Philharmonic, Peter & Chris, Alex Tindal, Evany Rosen, Kris Siddiqi, Pat Thornton, Sean Tabares, Ron Pederson, Jason DeRosse, Sara Hennessey, Mark Little, Naomi Snieckus, Matt Baram, Mark Andrada.
And hat-tip to Bad Dog's Julie Dumais and Comedy Bar's Gary Rideout for making spaces available to comedians of all talent levels.
I posted this roll call because I've long thought the artists above (and beyond) deserve more recognition, more opportunities. These comedians are playing with the art form, and look like they're having mad fun doing it.
Like in slam, audiences have to dig and work to find these underground shows boasting the risk-takers and trailblazers in the arts. I didn't read about Comedy Bar's Catch23 improv show in the paper; I found out it existed more than a decade ago when it was rocking the back room of Clinton's, thanks to the Art Bar Reading Series also taking place at the same venue. Sure, you'll see ads for Second City and Yuk Yuk's but those are, to put it kindly, easy choices for a night out. I'd recommend going a step further and tunnelling deeper into the comedy scene to find those weird shows you won't soon forget (e.g. Rap Battlez. Throne of Games, Network Notes).
Live comedy, in all its myriad forms, lets us see the glory and ugliness in humanity via a prism of humour that often can't be replicated on film or TV. You're laughing with dozens or hundreds other people, and you are at the behest of the comedians on stage. They can take you anywhere they like, much like the rollercoaster ride of a slam poem where you aren't in control - the artist is. And there's something deliciously exhilarating about letting go the reins and being taken on a ride.
So I'd recommend seeking out Toronto's bustling and fun and funky comedy scene. Winter is coming. Laughter is needed.
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