TORONTO Tuesday, September 10, 2019 – The Theatre Centre announces COMEDY IS ART, a new Festival in support of comedy and comedians. Celebrating comedy as a recognized art form, COMEDY IS ART takes place from October 1 – 5, 2019 at The Theatre Centre (1115 Queen Street West). The Festival launches on Tuesday, October 1 at 7:00PM with a special announcement from The Theatre Centre followed by a performance by TallBoyz.
Canadians are responsible for exporting some of the world’s greatest comedic talents. Today we’re looking at you, Schitt’s Creek! (Congrats on being named the best show on TV right now by TV Guide!) Yet Sandra Battaglini, co-founder of the Canadian Association of Stand-up Comedians, describes being a comedian in Canada – for most artists – as a “circle of entrapment”. This means limited opportunities to earn a living, almost no access to funding to make work, and the need to leave Canada to make that work, all while watching content from outside of Canada dominating our stages and screens. Comedy isn’t even a recognized art form by most public arts funders, and while comedians are invited to apply as theatre artists, they’re immediately at a disadvantage, shoe-horning themselves into definitions that don’t fit.
Seeing these issues being raised in the community, The Theatre Centre began asking “what can we do? What do we have to offer?” Aislinn Rose, The Theatre Centre’s Artistic Director hopes to help address this issue: “I saw the incredible work that my friend and comic Sandra Battaglini was doing in terms of advocacy for comedians and the issue struck us as obvious – of course comedy should be eligible for funding. And while the tendency in the not-for-profit world might be to suggest there’s not enough to go around as it is, we’re more interested in sharing our resources to see them go further. And comedy is one of the greatest art forms available to us as we grapple with how to address this world around us – thank you Samantha Bee!”
As The Theatre Centre could see members of the community without access to space, funding, career development opportunities – the essentials for building strong artistic communities – they returned to the question they’ve been exploring for the last year or more: how can we be more reckless with our generosity? They reached out to Battaglini to ask how they could help, and COMEDY IS ART is just the beginning.
Liza Paul, The Theatre Centre’s Café/Bar Curator & Manager was the obvious choice for programming this festival. Having already lain the groundwork for comedy at The Theatre Centre, through developing regular late-night events over the last few years, Paul was thrilled to have an opportunity to support comedy and comedians in a more fulsome way. “The artists I’ve programmed for the festival are all pushing the boundaries of comedy, and we are so pleased to have them here for what we hope will be the first of many initiatives.”
Programming includes: TallBoyz; Congratulations! (Courtney Gilmour); Drop the Mic: Joke or Choke (Crystal Ferrier); Amigas Cheetahs (Ben Sosa Wright + Brandon Ash Mohammed); Yas Kween (Nelu Handa); Good Morning, Tonight (Aidan O’Loughlin + Karis Anderson); Deez Laughs (Derryck Birch); SHADE (Anasimone George).
COMEDY IS ART is a declaration as much as a festival; in addition to programing 8 shows and 40 artists over 5 days, along with a number of events and parties, The Theatre Centre will work to continue its commitment to comedians in consultation with the comedy community. More to be announced on opening night of COMEDY IS ART: October 1, 2019.
COMEDY IS ART. lineup
TallBoyz II Men Live in Concert
Tuesday, October 1 at 7:00PM
TallBoyz II Men will perform improv so well that you won’t believe it’s not scripted!TallBoyz II Men is a group of diverse comedians doing diverse things diversely. The troupe was formed after the boyz met each other in the Toronto stand-up comedy scene and agreed to combine forces for the greater good.
Congratulations! Stories of Achievement, Embarrassment & Self-Worth
Wednesday, October 2 at 7:00PM
Congratulations! is a story of achievement, embarrassment, and self-worth told through the milestones of comedian and multiple limb amputee Courtney Gilmour. From childhood to present day, Courtney explores the common thread between her wins and losses, reveals the lows of insecurity and depression while at the height of success, and shares her bumpy journey towards finding self-love. As she navigates emotional meltdowns in McDonald’s to a mortifying encounter after buying a cat stroller, Courtney uses a variety of humorous and heartfelt experiences to share what “congratulations!” accolades really mean to her. Congratulations! won Best of Fringe, Patron’s Pick, and received rave reviews from NOW Toronto (NNNN)
Drop the Mic Comedy: Joke or Choke
Presented by Trofoni Claxton
Wednesday, October 2 at 9:00PM
Drop The Mic Comedy is more like training day for comics. The popular phrase is a gesture of intentionally dropping one’s microphone at the end of a performance to signal triumph. Our goal is to make people all over the world laugh daily by pushing comics to give their absolute best performance on stage.
Drop the mic also means a performer being told by the crowd response (LOUD BOOING) to drop the mic and get the hell off the stage after a poor performance by our definition. In our opinion, a comic’s life is simple: JOKE or CHOKE are the only options a comic has on stage.
Brandon Ash-Mohammed & Ben Sosa Wright
Thursday, October 3 at 7:00PM
Amigas Cheetahs is a comedy showcase hosted by Caribbean comedy queen Brandon Ash-Mohammed (J4L, JFL42, Bob Curry Fellowship) and Latinx sensation Ben Sosa Wright (JFL42,Limestone Comedy Festival, Bruce McCulloch’s Young Stars Showcase). Amigas Cheetahs is a safe space event with an emphasis on showcasing LGBTQIA2+ and POC talent!!
Presented by Nelu Handa
Thursday, October 3 at 9:30PM
YAS KWEEN is blowing the roof off The Theatre Centre for their 4th ANNIVERSARY party!Come through for laughter and realness at Toronto’s longest-running comedy night featuring Women of Colour. It’ll be a mix of stand up, improv, and other special hot fire performances by the top comedic minds in town. You’re going to want to be there, trust.
Good Morning, Tonight
Karis Anderson & Aidan O’Loughlin
Friday, October 4 at 7:00PM
Good Morning, Tonight! is a stand-up comedy showcase produced & hosted by Karis Anderson and Aidan O’Loughlin. The only morning show that happens at 7PM – think Regis & Kelly, but gayer. A comedy show formatted like a morning talk show? We know what you’re thinking: is this a podcast? NOPE – this is for your eyes, ears and heart, so take out your AirPods. Grab your drinks and strap in for some of the best comedy Toronto has to offer!
Friday, October 4 at 9:00PM
Deez Laughs Presents a showcase of some of the best touring stand up comedians in Canada.
Hosted by Noor Kidwai and headlined by Arthur Simeon (HBO, the Comedy Network, Just for
Laughs), the show also features guest appearances by Glasgow’s own John Mostyn and the
hilarious Rebecca Reeds.
Saturday, October 5 at 9:00PM
A show that celebrates women, the LGBTQ2S+ community, and performers of colour. More details to be announced soon!
The Theatre Centre is a nationally recognized live-arts incubator that serves as a research and development hub for the cultural sector. They are a public space, open and accessible to the people of their community, where citizens can imagine, debate, celebrate, protest, unite and be responsible for inventing the future.
The Theatre Centre’s mission is to nurture artists, invest in ideas and champion new work and new ways of working. The company fosters a culture of innovation by embracing risk and questioning traditional notions of failure and success.
TICKETS: $10-25 | Performances are at THE THEATRE CENTRE, 1115 Queen St. West, Toronto, Ontario.
To purchase tickets please visit www.theatrecentre.org or by phone at 416-538-0988
Performances run from October 1 to 5 (showtimes vary) with an opening night announcement scheduled for October 1 at 7:00PM.
For all media inquiries, contact Ashley Belmer, B-Rebel Communications, Ashley@b-rebelcommunications.com / 416 617 8934