Sab­rina Jalees

Toronto’s Class Clown Re­turns Home For JFL42.

Real Style - - Culture News - BY FAT IMA SYED

Just for Laughs 42 brings 42 dif­fer­ent things to do over 10 days in Toronto and fea­tures some of the best comics from to­day and yes­ter­day all in one city. Head­lin­ers in­clude Demetri Martin, Anthony Je­sel­nik, Tig No­taro, Trevor Noah, Jim Jef­feries, Roseanne Barr and more. This is Toronto’s top com­edy fes­ti­val, and each year it con­tin­ues to grow and at­tract big­ger and big­ger names who come here to per­form.

This year, Cana­dian-born and New York City-based come­di­enne Sab­rina Jalees is on the ros­ter of comics. The 29-year-old fun­ny­woman, who launched her com­edy ca­reer at the ten­der age of 16, spoke to us about her up­com­ing gig. As a na­tive Toron­to­nian, Jalees ex­pressed nos­tal­gia at the thought of re­turn­ing home for JFL42.

“Just For Laughs is some­thing that [Cana­di­ans], and es­pe­cially co­me­di­ans in Canada, are su­per proud of be­cause it’s rec­og­nized in­ter­na­tion­ally as the best com­edy fes­ti­val in the world,” she said.

Jalees, who is half Swiss and half Pak­istani, of­ten draws in­spi­ra­tion from her own di­verse back­ground, em­brac­ing her mul­ti­cul­tural roots. In her true brash yet en­dear­ing man­ner, her web­site’s tongue-in-cheek motto is “If you don’t like me, you’re prob­a­bly racist.”

The quirky comic’s sassy sense of hu­mour com­pels her to ti­tle her­self the child of “Amy Schumer and Rus­sell Peters.” How­ever, she also counts fel­low fe­male comics Liza Treyger, Ali Wong, Nikki Glaser and Chelsea Peretti as ma­jor in­flu­ences.

Jalees’ unique life ex­pe­ri­ences are key mo­ti­vat­ing fac­tors that fuel her comedic ma­te­rial. In her own words, her com­edy “sort of cir­cles around sex­u­al­ity.” The proudly queer comic is mar­ried to stylist Shauna McCann, whom she met in 2009. “Whether it’s my sex­ual- ity or my race, those are all as­pects of me that bleed into my per­spec­tive,” she told us.

Jalees’ pas­sion for com­edy be­gan with a self-de­scribed yearn­ing for at­ten­tion, which pushed her to the stage. While the fiery en­ergy is still there, Jalees has grown from her days of want­ing to be the class clown. “Thank­fully I found standup, or I would have been the most ob­nox­ious of­fice lady at some bank, stand­ing up on a stack of cu­bi­cles and con­stantly on the verge of get­ting fired,” she shared.

Clearly, Jalees won’t be fired any­time soon. She is a writer for the new NBC show Pow­er­less, an ex­pe­ri­ence that brings her from the spot­light to the writ­ers’ room. Pre­vi­ously, Jalees worked on Suzanne Martin’s com­edy se­ries Crowded, mak­ing the leap to comedic writ­ing. The ris­ing star is also in Sea­son 3 of Trans­par­ent, which airs on Ama­zon Prime.

Other than hav­ing the power to sum­mon ap­plause, Jalees thinks hu­mour is also a cop­ing mech­a­nism that can unite au­di­ences and bring global is­sues to light. “I think we have this huge op­por­tu­nity when we have peo­ple in front of us laugh­ing to also bring up things that are un­com­fort­able,” she said.

One thing is for sure, Jalees is com­fort­able in her own skin—both in front of the crowd and be­hind the scenes, pen­ning scripts. Fans can catch her on Septem­ber 23 and Septem­ber 25 at JFL42. We’ll be watch­ing, wait­ing for the punch line and laugh­ing right along. JFL42 takes place in Toronto from Septem­ber 22 to Oc­to­ber 1.

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