Toronto’s Class Clown Returns Home For JFL42.
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.