Stage Door News

Toronto: The Theatre announces “Comedy Is Art” running October 1-5

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

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, we began asking “what can we do? What do we have to offer?” Aislinn Rose, our 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 we could see members of our community without access to space, funding, career development opportunities – the essentials for building strong artistic communities – we returned to the question we’ve been exploring for the last year or more: how can we be more reckless with our generosity? We reached out to Battaglini to ask how we could help, and COMEDY IS ART is just the beginning.

Liza Paul, our 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.”

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 our commitment to comedians in consultation with the comedy community. More to be announced on opening night of COMEDY IS ART: October 1, 2019.

The Lineup

TallBoyz II Men Live in Concert 
Tuesday, October 1

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 
Courtney Gilmour
Wednesday, October 2

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.

Drop the Mic Comedy: Joke or Choke 
Presented by Trofoni Claxton
Wednesday, October 2

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 of the stage after a poor performance by our definition. In our opinion, a comics life is simple: JOKE or CHOKE are the only options a comic has on stage.

Amigas Cheetahs 
Brandon Ash-Mohammed & Ben Sosa Wright
Thursday, October 3

Amigas Cheetahs is 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!!

Yas Kween 
Presented by Nelu Handa
Thursday, October 3

YAS KWEEN is blowing the roof off The Theatre Centre for our 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

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!

Deez Laughs 
Friday, October 4

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

SHADE is a comedy show that represents + celebrates performers of colour, performers from the LGBTQ2S+ community, and women. SHADE has been sold out monthly for nearly 3 years and has been featured in: Fashion Magazine, Vice, CBC + More. The show is produced and hosted by Anasimone George.

For tickets, visit