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My Favourites of Toronto Comedy 2011

So I just read through everything I wrote here again and man, I am a big fanboy nerd. How do you guys put up with me? Is this embarrassing? Am I embarrassing myself? I’m not sure. All I know is that I’m a big fan of comedy and I really enjoy what local comedians are doing. Writing this blog this year has had it’s ups and downs, but over all I’ve enjoyed it and all the comedy I’ve discovered because of it. But of course some stuff I like more than others.

This is not meant to be a ranking of what I believe to be the best. This is simply a list of my favourite funny stuff from the past year. That’s all this is. So don’t think about it too much, okay?

Favourite Video: Shit Girls Say

After spending a year rounding up the finest locally produced comedy shorts in the hopes of bringing together an often disparate audience, it was with a sense of awe (and a hint of jealousy) that I watched Shit Girls Say explode across the internet like H1N1. After popping up on Reddit, Buzzfeed and countless other eyeball heavy web hubs, Graydon Sheppard and Kyle Humphery‘s tonally perfect video-via-twitter joke didn’t need my humble bump. Shit Girls Say has all the makings of a viral hit: universal theme, high production value, rapid-fire joke delivery, spot on social awareness, celebrity cameo and, most importantly, it’s really fucking funny. Over-analysis aside, it’s the new gold standard for local funny makers. Just so we’re clear, I want to post more videos like this.

Favourite Twitter Feed: Michael Balazo @mbalazo

Right now Michael Balazo has 283 followers and that’s really too bad. His silly, whimsical tweets read like the musings of a hobo philosopher king. Balazo’s feed successfully walks the fine line between a day planner and a straight joke machine. His comedic voice comes through so loud and clear that I can hear his trademark inflection when I read his tweets.

Honourary Mention: Glenn McAuley @glennmacaulay

Favourite Open Mic: The Famous and Heinous Show at Pour Boy
Pour Boy

Oh my god. Open Mic night at Pour Boy is ridiculous. Since I started going to Will Smeaton’s circus in search of stage time this summer I’ve seen packed rooms, empty rooms, heckling Rolly Derby teams, unresponsive birthday parties, fights, near-breakdowns, killer sets, borderline hate-crime jokes, vomit in the bathroom, beautiful weather on the patio, groupies aggressively hitting on comics and lots and lots of drinking. But through all the hoopla and weirdness, every Tuesday (and later Sunday) night, Pour Boy gave comics the chance to perform in some of the strangest circumstances the world could throw at them. And as hard as it was some nights, everyone who grabbed that mic in the corner by the bar is a stronger performer for it.

Favourite Show: Comedy At The Ossington

For my money, a comic is looking for three things in an audience: 1) Respectful 2) Smart 3) Ready to laugh. Comedy at the Ossington proved itself time and again to be my favourite show in the city this year because the hosts delivered ideal audiences every time. The four affable hosts – Sara Hennessey, Steph Kaliner, Greg Alsop and Jeremy Mersereau – deserve kudos for cultivating a dedicated following of fans that were always with it and on board. It helps that the hosts themselves are extremely likeable and set the tone of each show perfectly with their mix of banter and themed jokes. Plus they have an open mic lottery. It’s a comedian’s dream.

Favourite Import: Picnicface

picnicface

When their eponymous sketch series debuted on The Comedy Network this September, Picnicface invigorated the too often uninspiring world of Canadian TV comedy. But when these Haligonians decamped to Toronto for post production and promotion they also invigorated the local performance scene. The idea that you could bump into Mark Little, Brian McQuarrie or Bill Wood at an open mic injected an aura of excitement into what can sometimes be an arduous task for comics. Seeing Evany Rosen host Sunday Night Live or Andrew Bush perform at The Ossington reminded us (or at least me) that there is only a few steps separating emerging performers from tangible success in this country. This year, Picnicface gave us a shot of hope.

Favourite Export: Nathan Fielder

After spending time at This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Laugh Sabbath alumni Nathan Fielder made the jump to LA where he wrote and directed segments for Important Things with Demetri Martin. This year he was a writer and part of the supporting cast for Comedy Central’s Jon Benjamin has a Van and was subsequently part of one of the funniest Funny Or Die videos of the year. While it remains to be seen whether JBHV will get picked up for a second season, Fielder has landed a development deal with Comedy Central and his future looks very promising. This guy is from here but he is definitely going places.

Favourite Big Time Visitor: Rob Delaney

The obvious answer to this one would be Louis C.K., but I didn’t go to that show. I wish I had. But I didn’t. And if I learned anyhthing this year it’s that it’s not a great idea to write about something you didn’t go to. But I digress. Rob Delaney is a rising star from Los Angeles who is mostly known for being really funny on Twitter. But while I might have discovered him in the virtual realm, it’s Delaneys’ attachment to all that is physical that makes him so endearing. He can talk about bodies, touch, smells, hair, sex and urges for hours.

Honourable Mention: Kyle Kinane

Favourite Joke: Tim Gilbert’s “La Famiglia”

Tim Gilbert crafts perfect one minute sagas that build up tension around real life insecurities and absurdities and then brings them crashing down by pulling the rug out from under everything with ridiculous imagery and true nonsense. His joke about “The most important thing” to him was my favourite this year. There’s no video of it and I don’t want to tell it here, because that would ruin it, So if you haven’t seen it, you’re just going to have to trust me on this one.

I guess in it’s place you can watch this one about High School

Favourite Set: Chris Locke “Do You Love Life Or What?”

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Chris Locke. I’ve written about him before. The dude is mint. It astounds me that he is not better known outside this city. So it was with great excitement that I attended the taping of his pending comedy special “Do You Love Life Or What?” at the Garrison in September. Chris came on stage, coughs into the mic and asks the whole audience if they “want to get out of here” and go someplace else. It’s like he’s daring you to root for him – and it works. Draped in sweat and worried about whether or not we could see him very well, Locke barrages the audience bizarre hypotheticals and convinces us to see the world his way for 60-plus minutes. He is so in touch with our concerns of how we’re perceived by others and he channels those feelings into jokes about murdering spiders and having your every move posted on YouTube. Despite his sometimes over-the-top social paranoia, you empathize with him as soon as he chuckles and clutches his stomach. Suffice it to say I can’t wait for the special to come out.

Oh yeah and this is also great.

So there you go. So long, 2011. You were pretty great.

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About Mikey Kolberg

I'm a comedian and a university graduate who couldn't find a job so I started a blog.

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