The lat­est crop of April fools

Mark Bres­lin on the top up-and-com­ing comedic minds in the city

Richmond Hill Post - - Arts -

Mayor John Tory has floated the idea that Toronto could be branded as a “mu­sic city” with all the great mu­si­cians who per­form here and the many (though shrink­ing) live mu­sic venues. But the case could equally be made to brand Toronto a “com­edy city” with our long his­tory of standup, sketch and im­prov greats.

There’s never been such a pro­lif­er­a­tion of comic tal­ent. The vol­ume is stag­ger­ing; the qual­ity equally so. Young, fresh tal­ent is ev­ery­where, in ev­ery medium. I’m go­ing to pick out 10 young comedic minds to watch, but the list is deep, and my picks just scratch the surface. This list is in no par­tic­u­lar or­der; don’t want to be caught in that trap!


The Globe and Mail called Ann Pornel “a right hot blast of funny” af­ter her de­but on the Sec­ond City main­stage. And this stand­out per­former was once a mem­ber of the Cana­dian Com­edy Award–win­ning troupe the Sketch­er­sons and is still a reg­u­lar sketch artist with the Flirty Boys. She just opened her sec­ond re­vue with Sec­ond City, Ev­ery­thing’s Great

Again, in which I’m sure she once again shines above the rest.


This young Toronto comic does the best Adam Du­ritz im­pres­sion you will ever see. Why this ac­tor, pro­ducer and di­rec­tor is now do­ing what may seem like a dated Count­ing Crows ref­er­ence is moot, as the YouTube con­tent he reg­u­larly pro­duces is top notch. Fer­nan­dez-Stoll con­sis­tently puts out new, hi­lar­i­ous and of­ten bizarre videos. Noted and more main­stream is his short film Job In­ter­view, which was se­lected for the Cana­dian Film Fest, North West Com­edy Fes­ti­val and the LA Com­edy Film Fest, and which won the Cana­dian Com­edy Award for Best Short (2015).


You may not know her name, but Nelu Handa wears many hats. In ad­di­tion to be­ing an ac­tress, im­pro­vi­sor and writer, she is also the cre­ator, pro­ducer and host of Yas Kween, a ground­break­ing monthly night of com­edy that show­cases eth­nic women. In the age of Trump, Yas Kween cre­ates a safe space for women from dif­fer­ent cul­tural back­grounds to share their voices and de­velop their craft through standup, sketch, im­prov and sto­ry­telling. The next Yas Kween show is sched­uled for April 6 at Bad Dog Theatre.


An­other mem­ber of the Sec­ond City, this time with their na­tional

tour­ing com­pany, Na­dine Djoury is no new­comer. She was pre­vi­ously a mem­ber of the pop­u­lar sketch troupe the Weaker Ves­sels, but new ad­di­tions to her list of cred­its in­clude Cana­dian Screen Award nom­i­nee and win­ner of the Just For Laughs Web Pitch Pro­gram (2015) for New­born Moms, which she co-cre­ated, wrote and stars in, along with Aurora Brown ( Baroness von Sketch Show).


Clearly a leg­end in the mak­ing, Singh has be­come suc­cess­ful on her own, work­ing tire­lessly on YouTube and other so­cial me­dia plat­forms to reach wide au­di­ences around the globe. With a new book out this month, How to Be a Bawse, and many main­stream movie ap­pear­ances, it looks like 2017 could be the year Singh achieves main­stream suc­cess. Un­til then, play catch-up by bing­ing on her YouTube com­edy skits or her first fea­ture film, A

Trip to Uni­corn Is­land. Yeah, it’s kooky like that. Check out Singh as part of TIFF Next Waves on April 5.


An­other win­ner of Just For Laugh’s Web Pitch Pro­gram (along­side writer Jon Blair) is ac­tor and writer Alice Mo­ran. From her hum­ble be­gin­nings as a mem­ber of Sec­ond City’s Tour­ing Com­pany, Mo­ran found “fame” with her vi­ral video Hog­warts:

Which House Are You? and ul­ti­mately went on to win a Cana­dian Screen Award for Best En­sem­ble for her work on the pre­ma­turely can­celled Sun­ny­side.


Soul De­ci­sion Com­edy Duo is the brain­child of Kevin Vi­dal (Sec­ond City, CBC’s Workin’ Moms and CTV’s Sun­ny­side) and Chris­tian Smith (Sec­ond City and award-win­ning sketch troupe the Riot). Both Vi­dal and Smith come from di­verse back­grounds of sketch and im­prov per­for­mance, which make their comedic stylings seem ef­fort­less. It’s no won­der Soul De­ci­sion was named Best of the Fest at Toronto’s Sketch Com­edy Fes­ti­val this past month.


Now a reg­u­lar on the Yuk Yuk’s scene, a con­tribut­ing writer for CBC’s Punch­line and a per­former with the hip-hop col­lec­tive Run­nin’ at the Mouth, Brown made her head­lin­ing de­but at Kenny Robin­son’s long-run­ning Nu­bian Dis­ci­ples All Black Com­edy Re­vue. In 2016 she made her de­but at Just For Laughs, with not only a TV tap­ing, but also as a part of Kevin Hart’s Laugh Out Loud Net­work. Brown’s blend of sweet- yet-whip-smart quips on re­la­tion­ships and po­lit­i­cal ob­ser­vances make her one to watch for the fu­ture. Brown per­forms as part of Alt Dot Com­edy Lounge on April 10 at the Rivoli.


Nigel Grin­stead looks like the guy ev­ery­one grew up with “back home.” His hi­lar­i­ously imag­i­na­tive take on life and un­de­ni­able charm have won over au­di­ences at nu­mer­ous com­edy fes­ti­vals across the coun­try as well as com­edy com­pe­ti­tions, such as SirusXM’s Top Comic. Most no­tably, he was win­ner of the Just For Laughs Home­grown com­pe­ti­tion last sum­mer. Grin­stead is on his way to be­com­ing the next house­hold name in the standup world.


McCarrol and John­son started up a lit­tle web se­ries in 2008 called Nir­vanna The Band The Show, which built up a small cult fol­low­ing. Nearly 10 years later, the show has found new life on Viceland as the edgy tele­vi­sion com­pany’s first orig­i­nal scripted se­ries. This seem­ingly im­pro­vised (but not) se­ries fol­lows the guys through Toronto with guerilla-style film­ing as they try to get booked at famed Toronto mu­sic venue the Rivoli. As ex­pected, hi­jinks en­sue. New episodes air Thurs­days at 10 p.m. on Viceland.

Clock­wise from top left: standup Aisha Brown, YouTube sen­sa­tion Lilly Singh and the Soul De­ci­sion Com­edy Duo

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